Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, December 27, 2013

Barra: Norman Mailer, Sportswriter

Looking through Norman Mailer’s eyes…

Though he could never devote much time to the sport, Mailer loved baseball. But despite numerous references to the game in his work, he never wrote a long baseball piece.

According to Lennon, Mailer thought that 1947, Jackie Robinson’s first year as a Brooklyn Dodger, “was the most exciting year Brooklyn fans could remember.” He loved some players and was indifferent to others—Joe DiMaggio, for instance: In a piece collected in The Presidential Papers, he wrote, “His legend left me cold.” (Possibly because his idol, Ernest Hemingway, staked a claim to the Yankee Clipper first in The Old Man and the Sea.)

Another fascinating tidbit Lennon uncovered is that Mailer corresponded with one-time Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan, who had written baseball’s first tell-all, The Long Season. “I can’t pitch worth a ####,” Mailer wrote to Brosnan, “and you write like a dull whore with an honest streak, but if you ain’t afraid of a grand slam, which you is, come around when you get to New York, and we’ll have a drink or two.”

But Lennon leaves out that Mailer was an early supporter of Bill James, baseball’s sabermetrics pioneer. When James was putting out his first analytical newsletter in the late 1970s, Mailer heard about him through a friend and wrote to James asking how he could subscribe.

“I told him I’d be happy to send it to him for free,” James told me, “but he wanted to pay for it. He sent me a check for $5. I had Norman Mailer’s autograph on a $5 check. And I was so desperate back then, I cashed it.”

Repoz Posted: December 27, 2013 at 08:57 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4624653)
Thanks for posting this. I forgot to check Barra out this month after reading him religiously during the fall. FWIW, Jane Leavy's book on Mantle was better tan his dual bio of Mays and Mantle., but I still think he is one of the better writer's on sports out there.
   2. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4624670)
Check out the dedication in The 1983 Bill James Baseball Abstract. I have to say I was very much surprised when I saw Mailer's name there, as he had never written about baseball that I knew of.
   3. tfbg9 Posted: December 27, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4624742)
Looking through Norman Mailer’s eyes…


A ref to The Adverts!
   4. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 27, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4624799)
I didn't get that until you pointed it out, tfbg. That's a classic Repozian intro.
   5. esseff Posted: December 27, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4624827)
Or, from Kevin Godley and Lol Creme's remarkable "Somewhere in Hollywood":

Norman Mailer
Waits to nail her
He's under the bed
And he's waiting for her to be dead
He's out on the patio
With his polaroid and scenario
And he's armed and he's dangerously....
close was the weather ...


   6. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:26 PM (#4624909)
Truman Capote used to like to tell the story of how on the set of Beat the Devil he took Humphrey Bogart down in an arm-wrestling contest. According to Truman, he was the possessor of a genetic peculiarity in a muscle in his forearm or elbow or something (I wonder Malcolm Gladwell knows about this). Wouldn't you have loved for Mailer to have written a play by play of that?
   7. tfbg9 Posted: December 27, 2013 at 08:09 PM (#4624943)
Bogie was probably wheezing and hacking-up black phlegm after maybe 10 seconds.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Mike Emeigh
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogDesign Room: Top 10 Logos in MLB History.
(76 - 8:30am, Apr 19)
Last: RMc's desperate, often sordid world

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1681 - 8:13am, Apr 19)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogPirates Acquire Ike Davis From Mets
(24 - 8:11am, Apr 19)
Last: RMc's desperate, often sordid world

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(333 - 7:03am, Apr 19)
Last: NJ in DC

NewsblogRB: Carlos Beltran: more of a center fielder than Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb or Duke Snider. So what?
(34 - 4:54am, Apr 19)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(84 - 2:28am, Apr 19)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogMitchell: Now Playing First Base for the Yankees
(55 - 1:57am, Apr 19)
Last: Dan

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(901 - 1:38am, Apr 19)
Last: Rob_Wood

NewsblogOMNICHATTER FOR APRIL 18, 2014
(150 - 1:29am, Apr 19)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogNY Daily News: Secret Service Threatened To Shoot Mr. Met
(15 - 1:16am, Apr 19)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogOrioles launch D.C. invasion with billboard near Nationals Park
(27 - 12:57am, Apr 19)
Last: Belfry Bob

NewsblogA's, Doolittle agree to 4-year extension
(3 - 12:47am, Apr 19)
Last: Joyful Calculus Instructor

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(330 - 11:28pm, Apr 18)
Last: Select Storage Device

NewsblogEscape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers
(24 - 10:41pm, Apr 18)
Last: base ball chick

NewsblogOT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(143 - 10:25pm, Apr 18)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.1004 seconds
52 querie(s) executed