This is a really good book. Notwithstanding the obvious name similarity to that of THIS website (the book is titled “A Day in the Bleachers”), I recommend it most highly to fans of baseball as it once was. “A Day in the Bleachers” was written by Arnold Hano in 1954, although I read the 50th Anniversary Edition.
Ostensibly, the book is about one ball game, the first game of the 1954 World Series, with the Cleveland Indians visiting the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in Harlem, New York City. But there’s a lot more to it.
Roger Kahn wrote the Introduction to the current edition in 1981, 25 years after the book itself was originally written. I want to quote a few passages from his Introduction, because they describe what is so unique about this book.
- “The first and, I believe, the best of all the baseball books written from the point of view of the man in the stands.”
- “The writing is what amateurs call effortless.”
- “Reading ‘A Day in the Bleachers’, you concentrate on the day, the game, the ball players, the fans…”
- “…this is how it was to go to a ball game once.”
- “Without knowing it, Hano was catching a team at the peak moment of its existence.”
- “Mr. Hano, something of a purist, even expresses quiet contempt for those who brought portable radios into the Polo Grounds.”
- “…television works against the old magic of the World Series. You no longer have to struggle to find a ticket, part with cash, worry about the location of your seat, and hope passionately that it does not rain. Pull a knob and a replica of the game appears in your living room. Children now grow up on electronic baseball.”
- “…it is important to recognize that technological innovation creates not only progress but a kind of loss.”
I’ve read books which break baseball down into one season at a time. Or one game at a time. Even one play at a time. Occasionally one pitch at a time. But this book chronicles one thought at a time. Stream of consciousness. A shared consciousness.
Here are some observations from the book:
- “Keep the curve low and the fast ball high.”
- “I cannot abide stupid Giant fans. Thank goodness there are so few.”
And here are a few quotes from the “Afterword To The 2004 Edition – Extra Innings”:
- “On May 8, 1973, nineteen years after the first game of the 1954 World Series, Chicago Cubs manager Whitey Lockman argued with the plate umpire, who thumbed him from the game. Lockman told coach Ernie Banks to manage the rest of the game. Thus Lockman appointed the first black to manage a major league baseball team.”
- “I can’t field and I’ve got a lousy arm, but I sure love to whack at that ball.”
- “Westrum’s career batting average was .217. Some pitchers hit higher than that.”
- “…a glove once described as ‘the place where triples go to die’.”
And one last quote, this one from the back cover: “I loved this book…anyone who likes baseball will like this one.” -Groucho Marx
For me personally, “A Day in the Bleachers” recreates Cubs baseball with my dad at Wrigley Field. Day games. Bleachers. The community of like minded Cubs fans.
What a great book.