Nicholas Dawidoff, author of The Catcher Was a Spy, an intriguing biography of Moe Berg, has a roundup in the Wall Street Journal of five great works of baseball fiction. (David Carkeet‘s The Greatest Slump of All Time was news to me.) Sportswriters may be the last batch of journalists (who aren’t book reviewers) with an affinity for fiction. In the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, Derrick Goold hunts for a model for Rick Ankiel, the Cardinals’ hot pitching prospect turned hot slugging prospect. Goold turns to Philip Roth‘s junky baseball satire, The Great American Novel:
There’s also the lesser-known Luke Gofannon, from The Great American Novel. Gofannon is the best player ever to hoist a bat for the Port Ruppert Mundys in Philip Roth’s classic sendup, and he’s described purposefully Ruthian:
The iron man came up in 1916 as a kid pitcher, and then played over two thousand games in center field for the Ruppert club, scored close to fifteen hundred runs for them, and owned a lifetime batting average of .372 — the fella who was the Mundys to the three generations of Rupe-it rootas! … In his prime, they’d give him a hand just for striking out, that’s how beautiful he was, and how revered.