In this richly enjoyable collection of Frank O'Rourke's baseball fiction from the 1940s and 50s -- including six stories never before in book form -- a writer who belongs along-side Ring Lardner and Mark Harris captures the essence of baseball in elegiac, unsentimentalized fiction that blends dazzling descriptions of on-the-field action with compassionate off-the-field portraits. Pennant races, old veterans passing down their wisdom to rookies, and an unforgettable dash around the bases by a player modeled on the young Jackie Robinson highlight these unforgettable tales.
Ring Lardner's story of the ambitious young man from the sticks who comes to the big city to make his fortune became the seminal literary baseball narrative. Most baseball fiction veers toward the maudlin, but Lardner had a horror of sentimentality. This mordant book is as deft and shrewd as the protagonist, a hay-in-the-hair pitcher from the Indiana heartland named Jack Keefe, is boastful and self-deluded. It takes the form of a series of letters home from Keefe to his...