Don’t mistake this heartwarming, evocative masterpiece for just another baseball story!
This novel is a historical and cultural revelation of 19th-century America, wrapped up in a marvelous story of life and love that you will never forget. In fact, the only regret you will have when reading At the Bat: The Strikeout That Shamed America is that the book ends long before you want to let it go.
If you are not familiar with Earnest Thayer’s 1888 poem “Casey At The Bat,” I can only say, “Welcome to our planet.” If you are very astute, you can probably quote part or all of the great ballad from memory.
Thayer’s poem focused on the unfortunate batter, but Del Leonard Jones’ novel tells the story of the brave umpire.
In 1888, when someone shouted “Kill the umpire” at a ball game, the crowd was ready to act on the suggestion. Like a divorce-court judge, the umpire was doomed to be hated by at least half the world, no matter what ruling he gave.
The baseball arena of 1888 was often populated by men who would be incarcerated except for their popularity as athletes. The umpire would be thrust into the yard of lawless men and expected to enforce the rules with integrity. Enter Jones’ unlikely hero, umpire Walter Brewster.
Jones weaves an enthralling and entertaining story that incorporates historical people, events, and places seamlessly into a fictional narrative that satisfies the reader’s mind and emotions.
This is not a book for male readers alone, nor one solely for females. This story uses baseball artfully, metaphorically, and historically to show all of us something about ourselves as we experience the life and times of Walter Brewster, umpire.
It comes as no surprise to learn that Del Leonard Jones, a former USA Today reporter, was once nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Jones is a master of humorous social commentary on a level with Mark Twain and Will Rogers.
Del Leonard Jones transports us to the 1888 world of baseball with the vocabulary, tone, and atmospheric nuance of his delightful prose.
I have featured some of my favorite highlights, without giving away the unforgettable and thoroughly entrancing story.
This is exactly the sort of book that makes a terrific gift for any friend or relative who loves to read. Or get a copy of At the Bat: The Strikeout That Shamed America for yourself. (You deserve the best, right?)
Get Del Leonard Jones’ The Cremation of Sam McGee to read next.
I highly recommend At the Bat: The Strikeout That Shamed America to readers of all ages and genders for its literary quality as well as for the entertainment value and tremendous reading pleasure.
Parents of pre-teens, be cautioned: some 19th-century vulgar language appears, and there is a criminal assault which, while not explicit by 21st-century standards, is intense.
Until next time, take care to stay safe and well, and
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