My Life as a Fan

Wilfrid Sheed, Author Simon & Schuster $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-76710-5
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)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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