Dead Balls and Double Curves: An Anthology of Early Baseball Fiction

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Trey Strecker
SIU Press, 2004 - Fiction - 332 pages
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Dead Balls and Double Curves: An Anthology of Early Baseball Fiction collects twenty-two classic stories from baseball’s youth, presented in chronological order to capture the development of this most American of sports. Many of these tales have never before been reprinted, adding historical value to the rich literary merits of this anthology.

Editor Trey Strecker’s collection begins with an informal village match in an excerpt from James Fenimore Cooper’s Home as Found (1838), published the year prior to Abner Doubleday’s alleged invention of the game outside Cooperstown, New York, and concludes with the arrival of the superstar slugger that signaled the end of the dead-ball era in Heywood Broun’s The Sun Field (1923). The sampling of fiction from the eighty-five-year interim loads the bases with the humor, realism, and athletic gallantry of the sport’s earliest years. Not all grandstanding and heroism, these stories also explore cultural and class conflicts, racial strife, town rivalries, labor disputes, gambling scandals, and the striking personalities that decorated a simple game’s evolution into a national pastime.

Dead Balls and Double Curves presents a lineup of first-division writers, including Mark Twain, Frank Norris, Christy Mathewson, Edna Ferber, and the game’s poet laureate, Ring Lardner, plus legendary characters such as Baseball Joe, South-Paw Skaggs, Tin Can Tommy, and the sole artiste of the mythic double curve, Frank Merriwell. Throughout the volume, each author’s abiding affection for the game and its characters shines through with diamond-like focus.


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Dead balls and double curves: an anthology of early baseball fiction

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The summer game has provided background and plot lines for fiction writers since the 19th century, and this gathering begins with a selection by James Fenimore Cooper, carries the baseball theme ... Read full review

Selected pages


A Game of Ball from Home as Found
The Base Ball Match from Changing Base
Our Base Ball Club from Our Base Ball Club and How It Won the Championship
This Experiment Was Baseball from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court
At the Polo Grounds from The Plated City
This Animal of a Buldy Jones
Seeking the Secret of the Double Shot from Frank Merriwells Double Shot
The Alumni Game from Won in the Ninth
Joes Run from Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars
A Bush League Hero
FairWeather Hits
The Diamond Jester
The Jinx from The Double Squeeze
Back to Baltimore
The Redheaded Outfield
The Insignificant Dub

The Bride and the Pennant from The Bride and the Pennant
The Humming Bird
Mathewson Incog
An Odd Story of the National Game
Tin Can Tommy from Hearts and the Diamond
Mrs Tiny Tyler from The Sun Field

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About the author (2004)

An assistant professor at Ball State University, Trey Strecker teaches English and sports studies. He is the editor of The Collected Baseball Stories of Charles Van Loan, and his essays have appeared in Nine, Critique, and the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

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