Picks and Pans Review: Ballpark
by Michael Schiffer
Ambitious and very busy, this first novel is by the author of 1980's Lessons of the Road, which recounted a college grad's tour of Europe and the Indian subcontinent. Ballpark's hero is Darryl Pardee, a shrapnel-scarred Vietnam vet and supreme third baseman. As the 1976 season begins, he has been signed by a fast-food king who has been granted an American League franchise in Ohio and is surrounding it with Ballpark, a complex he calls "the largest amusement park anywhere north of Disney." "Ballclub," as the team is called, goes through a story-book season, down to a deciding game with the Yankees. Besides megabuck free agents and megalomaniacal owners, Schiffer roams into discussions of Vietnam, fan violence, Boston's racial tensions, love, and magazine and TV politics. In fact, he handles the locker room, the boardroom and the bedroom flawlessly, skimping on the baseball action. As a reflection of how deadly serious men can get about a game, though, this book is minor league stuff compared, say, to Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.: J. Henry Waugh, Prop., published in 1968, or Tom Lorenz's 1980 novel about softball, Guys Like Us. (Simon and Schuster, $14.50)
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