This is a lovely book about baseball and how it has affected the lives of many Americans. These Americans are the ones who are gifted with the pen: nine writers who come specifically from the Northwest. Sherman Alexie, Bryan di Salvatorre, Timothy Egan, Lyndia Barry, Robert Leo Heilman, John Owen, Holly Morris and Larry Colton. Editor John Douglas Marshall ends this regional anthology with his own childhood memory of going to baseball games with his father.
These shorts are all well-written and evocative. From Sherman's memories of life on a reservation and admiring (yet ignoring) the Indian women there, to Timothy Egan's heartfelt memoir of coaching Little League for his daughter's team to my personal favorite by Linda Barry, "What Pop Fly Gave His Daughter," all these stories will evoke empathy from readers. Baseball affects us all in different ways, and this little book describes some of these ways.
This doesn't mean that the other stories are not good. The overriding theme of this anthology is the bound that baseball creates among us, between father and daughter, daughter and father, father and son, brothers and sisters and young men and women. Baseball is about love and belonging, and every now and then, about winning. This little book is a fine collection for baseball aficionados, especially those who reside in Seattle, the Northwest, Washington and Oregon.
This, however, is also the book's weakness. It doesn't cover enough writers from other parts of the United States. This book was initially published in 1997(!) Home Field: 9 Writers at Bat. Most of the writers in this anthology hadn't yet received any awards yet. Timothy Egan didn't win his Pulitzer until 2001 as a reporter for the New York Times. He has since then written a few more award-winning books. What this book needs is a larger collection of Americans across the country writing about how baseball affected their lives. What about writers in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas? What about the Cuban-, Puerto Rican-, Dominican Republican- Americans who came to this country with dreams of playing for the big leagues? How has the game of baseball affected their lives?
Another error is the credit given to Sherman Alexie by Amazon. Yes, his contribution is the first story of this book, but he is a contributing writer, not the sole writer. This compilation was edited by John Douglas Marshall. I say this only because fans of Sherman Alexie, a wonderful writer in his own right, will be disappointed in this book otherwise.
Enjoy this book for the stories it contains, but remember that there are still so many unwritten dreams waiting to be discovered. This book may be the door that opens that dream.