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Home Run

Home Run

by George Plimpton (Editor), George Plimpton

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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Mark Hale
For pure baseball joy, look no further than Home Run.
New York Post
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.
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.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
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.

Brief Biography

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

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