In the pantheon of great sports literature, not a few poets have tried their hand at paying tribute to their love affair with the game -- Walt Whitman, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams among them. This elegant volume collects Donald Hall’s prose about sports, concentrating on baseball but extending to basketball, football and Ping-Pong. The essays are a wonderful mixture of reminiscence and observation, of baseball and of fathers and sons, of how a game binds people together and bridges generations.
"Half of my poet friends," confides Donald Hall, one of America's best poets and essayists, "think I am insane to waste my time writing about sports and to loiter in the company of professional athletes. The other half would murder to take my place." Either way, aficionados--both of games and words--should simply be thankful.
Hall's lyrical voice, graceful craft, and spiritual bravado are evident throughout from the opening title essay--a first-person reminiscence of a spring-training sojourn with the Pirates--to a meditation on football that serves as the volume's final gun. In between, he offers lovely, finely tuned odes to Fenway Park, Old Timers' games, Ping-Pong, and former Celtic forward Kevin McHale. From a reader's perspective, "Proseball," a grand tour of baseball literature, is particularly poignant; as Hall goes down his line-up, your heart should break when you realize just how much good writing--from Roger Angell, Thomas Boswell, and Red Smith, for starters--is currently, and tragically, out of print. --Jeff Silverman