Thursday, October 28, 2010




With the Boys of October turning into the Boys of November, I enjoyed a post on baseball books last week over at James Reasoner’s Rough Edges blog. The titles he mentioned there made me head to my shelves and pull down this gem from Frank O’Rourke, a pulp writer who made his name mostly in westerns and many, many, sports related short stories.

The Heavenly World Series collects the best of O’Rourke’s baseball fiction including the title short story, which gets all the greats to ever step up to the plate to set aside their halos and horns and square off against each other amongst the clouds.


During the 1940s and ‘50s, with a freshness and empathy unique in sports literature, Frank O’Rourke created a world of baseball fiction as evocative as a dusty rural diamond or Wrigley Field’s ivied walls. In this rich enjoyable collection of O’Rourke’s works, the first in nearly fifty years and including six stories never before in book form, his timeless heroes compete alongside such real baseball greats as Roy Campenella, Joe Dimaggio, Willie Mays, Leo Durocher, and Eddie Stanky, while confronting the all-to-human limitations of injury, age, ambition, and envy.

O’Rourke’s stories offer powerful morality tales as players, coaches, and reporters struggle with right and wrong, while dazzling descriptions of on-the-field action blend with compassionate off-the-field portraits of athletes whose livings were made in a sport that was often unappreciative of their efforts and unforgiving of their mistakes.

I was really glad to reread the stories collected here and quickly lost myself in their ebb and flow. While not my favorite sports writer, O’Rourke really won me over with his wordsmithing as I read through these stories again. If you love baseball, which seems to have a far greater hold on literature than any other sport, you’ll find plenty to enjoy within these pages.


pattinase (abbott) said...

My son would love this book. He still reads a lot of books about baseball.

George said...

I've read plenty of O'Rourke's westerns (my favorite is THE PROFESSIONALS), but I this book is new to me.

Todd Mason said...

Baseball is the only sport I'm aware of to have had its own non-virtual fiction magazine in the latter-day era, ELYSIAN FIELDS QUARTERLY...thanks for the continuing tips in this direction, and I'm sorry I missed James's post...will have to go fix that.

bv said...

Have you read Stephen King's novella "Blockade Billy" about a baseball player? Apples and oranges, I know, but as one who didn't come from a baseball family per se, I'm fascinated by the game's lore and effects on culture and literature. Timely choice -- thanks!

bish8 said...

bv ~ I did read Blockade Billy when it first came out. It was good, and I enjoyed it, but it was not spectacular. It clearly showed King's love of baseball, but was ultimately less fulfilling than many of his other works.