My Life as a Fan

Overview

Wilfrid Sheed arrived in this country as an English kid worried about his house being bombed and his country being invaded. Yet within a year he had become a typical 10-year-old baseball nut, with nothing worse on his mind than Bronx Bombers and Enos Slaughters and Bean-ball wars. Only in America - that year, anyway. His personal Ellis Islands were the ballparks of the 1940s, especially Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and any surface anywhere on which kids his age were trying to get a game ...
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Overview

Wilfrid Sheed arrived in this country as an English kid worried about his house being bombed and his country being invaded. Yet within a year he had become a typical 10-year-old baseball nut, with nothing worse on his mind than Bronx Bombers and Enos Slaughters and Bean-ball wars. Only in America - that year, anyway. His personal Ellis Islands were the ballparks of the 1940s, especially Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and any surface anywhere on which kids his age were trying to get a game together - and he has left his heart in all of them. With the skill and style that have made him one of our finest writers about America's games, Sheed brings back to life the aura that surrounded the games of his youth - and ours. Through this very fond, very personal memoir, Sheed captures the sights and smells of that bygone era: the surly hum of Shibe Park as another defeat was played out by the A's or Phils: the neighborhood tavern friendliness of Ebbets Field:, the droopy drawers of young Ted Williams and the godlike elegance of Joe DiMaggio; the imperious wave of old Connie Mack's scorecard as he shifted the Athletics' defense (the term is used loosely); and the agony of a Brooklyn Dodgers fan as the last strike of a World Series game slips through Mickey Owen's fingers. But while his reflections are of his time, they are also about all times, about the obsession with particular athletes that all fans felt as kids; about listening to games on the radio and eagerly awaiting the morning paper, and incidentally learning math from box scores, history from record books, and geography from imaginary road trips to the end of the world, which was St. Louis in those days. Nobody likes a nerd, but everybody liked a baseball fan, so Sheed felt free to take courses in abnormal psychology with Leo Durocher, the American language with the sports pages, and classical tragedy with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Parents who fear that their kids are wasting their time with
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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743217996
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 1/29/2001
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 7
1. Year One: The View from the Attic 16
2. Grandstands and Radios 36
3. Pain in Toyland 63
4. The Year of the Cardinals 82
5. Winter Baseball 104
6. The Pits 122
7. No More War, No More Baseball 148
8. Peace 159
9. In Which the Author Comes Perilously Close to Growing Up 175
10. After Many a Summer Dies the Dodger Fan 193
11. Born Again 216
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