Well, nice to see YOU, October Baseball. You are the best thing ever. Right up there with the falling leaves, pumpkin pie, the Headless Horseman, and all the other lovely things we often forget about the other 11 months of the year.
Last night I found myself wondering about the great pantheon of American baseball novels. It must be hard to dramatize something like a nine inning game, although there is a novelistic like quality to a slow accretion of plot, pitches, unexpected homeruns, pitching changes, and the climactic ninth inning finale, where a star character (Clayton Kershaw) makes an unexpected return to save the game.
As we settle in for the next few weeks of history (Cubs? Indians?), here’s a brief list of excellent novels about baseball, followed by my favorite, by the legendary David James Duncan, who has another novel coming out next year.
SHOELESS JOE by W.P. Kinsella (inspired the film “Field of Dreams”)
MONEYBALL by Michael Lewis (inspired the film, well, yeah, “Moneyball)
THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach (about so much much more than just baseball; also filed under Great Midwestern Novels)
THE NATURAL by Bernard Malamud (not a happy ending, and not much like the film of the same name, but nevertheless an interesting read)
BASEBALL: an illustrated history by Ken Burns et al (re-read this book over and over and over again as a kid; the ur-encyclopedia of baseball history).
And my favorite the one for anyone who still dreams of playing, who still says: “I’m not too old yet, maybe there’s still time,” whereby the main character in this one actually does still have time, actually does get out there and picks up the mitt again.
THE BROTHERS K by David James Duncan. Enjoy! Go Cubbies 🙂