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My Life as a Fan

My Life as a Fan

by Wilfrid Sheed

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sheed ( Boys of Winter ) brings baseball back to life as everyone would like to remember it in this paean to both the national pastime and to his adopted country. Nine-year-old Sheed and his parents arrived in America in July 1941 to escape the London blitz. It was a year filled with names and places that made a kind of grotesque double play: from Hitler to Pee Wee Reese to Pearl Harbor. That summer began a love affair between Sheed and baseball: visits to Shibe Park in Philadelphia to see old Connie Mack; a summer to watch Ted Williams bat .406 and Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games; and a fall to watch the Yankees defeat the Dodgers as Mickey Owen chased that famous third strike. The summer of '41 was followed by the war years with baseball staffed by 4Fs, visits to New York ballparks long gone and Sheed being struck down by polio. Recovery came with Jackie Robinson and the 1947 World Series. Sheed marks his years by baseball: 1951, England, and Bobby Thompson hits a home run to beat his Dodgers; 1954, Australia, and Willie Mays's catch; 1955 brings Brooklyn its only championship; 1957, O'Malley takes the Dodgers to Los Angeles; 1963, the Los Angeles Dodgers--with plenty of Brooklyn still in them--take the Yanks; and 1969, when the Mets make it all worthwhile. With prose as smooth as a 4-6-3 double play, Sheed, the old Brooklyn stalwart, remembers `` . . . Walter O'Malley, against whom this book is dedicated. . . .'' and a simpler time when the author, America and baseball were younger, more innocent and, perhaps, happier. (June)
Library Journal
The English-born Sheed has a well-deserved reputation as a wry novelist and essayist of the highest caliber. Here, he studies the stranglehold the world of sport can exert upon a fan. Although touching briefly on football and cricket, Sheed focuses primarily on baseball, in particular, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940s and 1950s. Tempered by a playful, acerbic wit, Sheed's insightful prose rises above the wistful, reflective style typical of such personal baseball memoirs. The only shortcoming is that the frequently chronicled Dodgers of that period offer an overly familiar framework for the author's delightful observations. Still, this is not equal to Sheed's brilliant, original, extended essay on Connie Mack in Daniel Okrent and Harris Lewine's The Ultimate Baseball Book (Houghton, 1991. rev. ed.). Recommended for large sports collections.-- John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, N.J.

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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

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