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Home Run

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An all-star collection of the best fiction and nonfiction writing about baseball's most exciting moment

The game of baseball is full of moments of greatness. But no moment during a game elicits the roar of the crowd as does the hitting of a home run. And, as witnessed during the past few seasons, home-run fever has swept the fans and the players. Now George Plimpton, famed sports amateur and chronicler of the game of baseball-among many other sports-collects the best writing ...

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Overview

An all-star collection of the best fiction and nonfiction writing about baseball's most exciting moment

The game of baseball is full of moments of greatness. But no moment during a game elicits the roar of the crowd as does the hitting of a home run. And, as witnessed during the past few seasons, home-run fever has swept the fans and the players. Now George Plimpton, famed sports amateur and chronicler of the game of baseball-among many other sports-collects the best writing about the moment a home run is hit. From a memoir of Ted Williams's 1946 All-Star game homer to a fictional visit Babe Ruth made to Lake Wobegon, from Mark McGwire's 69th and 70th home runs to Hank Aaron's pursuit of the Babe's record to Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World," we see the effects on the athletes and the fans of that ineffable moment when wood hits leather and the ball sails out over the stands.

This delightful and absorbing collection is the most complete, most authoritative, and most compelling assemblage of home-run writing ever put together.

Includes glorious prose by John Updike, Don DeLillo, Roger Angell, Paul Gallico, Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Robert Creamer, Garrison Keillor, Donald Hall, Rick Reilly, and Rick Telander, among others.

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Editorial Reviews

Mark Hale
For pure baseball joy, look no further than Home Run.
New York Post
From The Critics
The diamond, the grass, the oft-repeated stories about the titans of yesteryear: They all send the ink flowing from writers' pens in the way that football and basketball never have. Editor and onetime sports journalist Plimpton put together this assemblage of writings about not just the sport of baseball, but the sport's pivotal moment: the home run. Since a home run is the kind of cherished event that becomes transformed into myth even as it's happening, the selections included here are often characterized by hyperbole. Plimpton's chronology of the home run opens the collection (Ross Barnes of the Chicago White Stockings hit the first one in 1876). Unfortunately, the writing quickly gets bogged down with nostalgia for the sport's golden years. John Updike's piece on Ted Williams' final game covers all the bases but is cool to the touch, as is a selection from the opening of Don DeLillo's Underworld. The highlight of the book is a pair of far-too-brief essays by Red Smith, the Lester Bangs of sports writing. In a brief moment of emotional flurry, Smith seems to tell us everything we need to know about the wonder of baseball.
—Chris Barsanti

(Excerpted Review)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the late poet Gregory Corso's "Dream of a Baseball Star" to pitcher Sadaharu Oh's "A Zen Way of Baseball," New York's honorary commissioner of fireworks, George Plimpton (who has also written a score of books and cofounded the Paris Review), has assembled the full-swinging Home Run, with pieces devoted to that fence-transcending moment. Don DeLillo's fictionalized "Pafko at the Wall" watches Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard `Round the World" sail over his head; Garrison Keillor takes "The Babe" to Lake Wobegon; and Roger Angell (A Pitcher's Story; Forecasts, Apr. 16) chimes in with "Homeric Tales" of the mythically showstopping impact of home runs: "Even when one goes out in mid-game, it stops the story. Nothing ensues." These 18 essays revel in such moments as Maris's 61st, McGwire's 69th and 70th and Hank Aaron's all-time record.Plimpton (who contributes two essays) presents all with signature panache in introductory notes. ( June 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
From the roar of the crowd to the activity in the dugout, there are many parts of a typical baseball game—each with its own special character. One of the most dramatic is the home run. Plimpton has gathered a comprehensive collection of short stories and poems profiling the home run. Each work incorporates baseball's rich history and gives a glimpse of some of baseball's more notable home run events and the people associated with them. Some of the names will be familiar to most readers—Ruth, Williams, Maris, McGuire. Others, like Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays, a Negro Baseball League team, are not as familiar—but great discoveries. In addition, notable authors like John Updike and Garrison Keillor contribute interesting stories and give the collection mass recognition appeal. Profiles of the authors make this work ideal for use as a teacher's supplement for individual author units or as an introduction to genres not typically associated with a particular writer. Furthermore, the selections are useful as free reading for the advanced reader, with excellent interest-sustaining appeal. Unfortunately, there's no index. That's the only "strikeout" on an otherwise "home run" effort! KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Harcourt, 278p., $13.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Tom Adamich; Cataloger, Tech. Serv., Stetson Univ. College of L , September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
Library Journal
This anthology of some of the best writing on home runs and home run hitters covers all the bases. In this lineup are the biggest sluggers ever to sock one into the stands, e.g., Babe Ruth, Josh Gibson, Hank Aaron, Sadarharu Oh, Reggie Jackson, and Mark McGwire. They are described by a murderer's row of writers that includes Grantland Rice, Bernard Malamud, Red Smith, Roger Angell, and Rick Telander. Plimpton's selection of pieces is very astute. John Updike's familiar rendering of Ted Williams's final round-tripper is balanced with the equally fascinating contemporary commentary by Daniel Paisner on the journey followed by the ball McGwire hit for his 70th home run in 1998. This book takes us on a similar blast of a journey: from Malamud's mythological fiction, to Smith's newspaper account of the 1951 Bobby Thompson pennant winner with the unforgettable lead "The art of fiction is dead," to Don DeLillo's fictional retelling of that same reality. Highly recommended. John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A winning anthology devoted to that most satisfying of moments—smacking a baseball out of the park. "A home run is by no means an easy thing to describe, no more or less than a military historian can wax fondly over the flight of a mortar shell," writes publisher, author, and professional amateur Plimpton (Pet Peeves). Yet, whereas loving descriptions of artillery trajectories are few, American literature abounds in glorious works in which baseball plays some part. Plimpton gathers minor classics such as Grantland Rice's 1888 poem "That Man from Mudville" (a happy-ending response to Ernest Lawrence Thayer's spirit-crushing "Casey at the Bat") and Bernard Malamud's The Natural, mixes in excerpts from modern novels and the better class of baseball reportage, and seasons the lot with knowing headnotes and a worth-the-ticket-price chronology of home-run history from 1876 to 1999. Although Plimpton's choices are sound, some of the pieces (such as Paul Gallico's "His Majesty the King" and John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu") have been heavily anthologized. The collection is thrown a little off-balance, too, by a 40-page excerpt from Don DeLillo's Underworld, which, though worthy enough, might have been abbreviated to make room for other pieces. Still, these are minor flaws, for which Plimpton more than atones by tossing in some pleasant surprises—including Gregory Corso's poem "Dream of a Baseball Star" and a wonderfully curious memoir by Sadaharu Oh (possibly the greatest player in Japanese baseball history), who writes: "As the ball makes its high, long arc beyond the playing field, the diamond and the stands suddenly belong to one man. In that brief, brieftime, you are free of all demands and complications." The home run as nirvana: a pleasant thought that echoes throughout these pages, which, all in all, are a real treat for baseball fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156011549
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

George Plimpton is the author of many books including Paper Lion. Founder and editor of the Paris Review, he is New York City's Honorary Commissioner of Fireworks.

Biography

The scion of New England bluebloods who traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower, affable WASP George Plimpton was one of the 20th century's most beloved literary figures. Raised in Manhattan and educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard University, and King's College, Cambridge, Plimpton co-founded The Paris Review in 1953 and served as its editor and guiding light for the next half century. Under his stewardship, the journal became a showcase for serious fiction and poetry by new and emerging writers. It also introduced a new style of author interview emphasizing the creative process and the writer's craft. Called by Salman Rushdie "the finest available inquiry into the 'how' of literature," the Paris Review interview remains an integral part of the magazine.

In addition to these highbrow pursuits, Plimpton is also responsible for originating a popular literary genre. Gregarious and adventurous by nature, he followed his intellectual curiosity into Walter Mitty-like arenas, then chronicled his exploits—most of them noble failures—in works that came to be categorized as "participatory journalism." He sparred with heavyweight champ Archie Moore, pitched in an all-star exhibition baseball game, played percussion for the New York Philharmonic, and tried out for the circus. And although he was famous for lighthearted reportage (most notably Paper Lion, his sidesplitting 1966 account of training with the Detroit Lions football team), he proved his literary chops with well-received oral biographies of Edie Sedgwick and Truman Capote.

Instantly recognizable for his tall, lanky frame and upper-crust Brahmin accent, Plimpton was a popular fixture of the Manhattan literary and social scene. Upon his death in September, 2003, The New York Times recalled his "boundless energy and perpetual bonhomie." Five years later, Random House published George, Being George, an affectionate oral biography composed of anecdotes from more than 200 people who knew Plimpton in his many capacities. Editor and longtime Paris Review colleague Nelson Aldrich described the book as a "kind of literary party, George's last."

Good To Know

Like his grandfather and father before him, Plimpton enrolled in the prestigious New Hampshire prep school, Phillips Exeter Academy. He spent most of his time either in detention or on probation, and was finally expelled several months shy of graduation. The family was chagrinned, and Plimpton spent many years trying to atone for his failure. By the way, he graduated right on schedule from Daytona Beach High School!

Plimpton loved athletics, and much of the "participatory journalism" for which he's famous revolves around sports. He wrote books about his less-than-successful exploits in professional baseball (Out of My League), football (Paper Lion; Mad Ducks and Bears), golf (The Bogey Man), and hockey (Open Net).

He also loved fireworks and spent a lot of time with the Grucci family, whose Long Island-based company produced spectacular displays. He chronicled his longtime passion in the 1984 book Fireworks, and Mayor John Lindsay appointed him Fireworks Commissioner of New York, an unofficial title totally unrelated to government.

Plimpton made occasional forays into film, usually as an extra or in cameo appearances as himself.

A longtime friend of the Kennedy clan, Plimpton was with Bobby Kennedy in 1968 when the presidential candidate was assassinated. He also was in Norman Mailer's apartment the night the writer stabbed his wife.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 25, 2003
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, NY
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English Literature, Harvard University, 1950; Master's degree, Cambridge University, 1952

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
A HOME-RUN CHRONOLOGY by George Plimpton
THAT MAN FROM MUDVILLE by Grantland Rice
From THE NATURAL by Bernard Malamud
JOSH by Robert Peterson
HIS MAJESTY THE KING by Paul Gallico
KALEIDOSCOPE: PERSONALITY OF THE BABE by Robert W. Creamer
THE BABE by Garrison Keillor
DREAM OF A BASEBALL STAR by Gregory Corso
HUB FANS BID KID ADIEU by John Updike
MIRACLE OF COOGAN'S BLUFF by Red Smith
PAFKO AT THE WALL by Don DeLillo
THE RECORD ALMOST BROKE HIM by Rick Telander
A MATTER OF RECORD by George Plimpton
A ZEN WAY OF BASEBALL by Sadaharu Oh
REGGIE JACKSON'S THREE HOMERS by Red Smith
HOMERIC TALES by Roger Angell
A PRETTY GOOD DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RESEARCH SCIENTIST by Daniel Paisner
HOT TO TROT WITH NO PLACE TO GO by Rick Reilly
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
CONTRIBUTORS

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