Saturday, June 6, 2015

Field of Fantasies a Collection of Baseball Short Stories

Picture by Stephanie Maatta, The Quiet Image
We are well into the baseball season, and the boys of summer have worked loose their winter kinks. I usually have a baseball blog or two by this point, but his year I’ve been remiss. I recently finished reading a baseball anthology pulled together by Rick Wilber and Night Shade Books.

Wilber has written a number of short stories and books. His two main themes concentrate on science fiction and baseball. This made him an excellent choice as editor for this anthology, Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural.

It is a collection of short stories fusing baseball, fantasy and the supernatural. Authors on the fantasy and supernatural side include Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Harry Turtledove. Among the baseball notables assembled are Cecilia Tan and W.P. Kinsella.

The book opens with a story from Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan. They pen a supernatural story based at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. The protagonist, Dean Evers witnesses specters from his past sitting in the stands behind home plate as he watches games on television. Dean does not remember the good things about his life only the bad. It’s a combination of Charles Dickens, Twilight Zone and baseball.

In John Kessel’s “The Franchise,” he asks us to consider what if Fidel Castro and George H.W. Bush never went into politics. Instead they played baseball, and played against each other in the World Series. It’s an interesting mix of baseball and politics. Two other stories “Understanding Alvarado” and “The South Paw” also take a look at Fidel Castro playing baseball.

David Sandner and Jacob Weisman take us back in time with “Lost October.” A San Francisco earthquake causes a rent in time. Old, tired baseball fan DeRosa and his young friend, Eugene watch DiMaggio playing in old Seal Stadium of the Pacific Coast League.

My favorite story is by Cecilia Tan, “Pitchers and Catchers.” Spring training has always been a magical time. Dreams are made and lost during the month of March in Florida. She tells us a story of spring training in the Boston Red Sox camp. A rookie catcher hopes to make the Boston Red Soxs. He is teamed up with Roger Clemons. She does a good job of capturing the antics of spring training and the chemistry between pitchers and catchers before the rest of the team shows up.

Baseball has been around for at least 170 years. In 1845 The New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club published their rules and regulations. Since then the rules have changed, and it’s had many controversies and surprises. It is an integral part of our society and local communities. The short stories contained in the anthology try to capture that emotion and history as well as entertain. I used the ebook version for this review. 

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