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“I cannot abide stupid Giant fans. Thank goodness there are so few.”
Arnold Hano, A Day in the Bleachers

Arnold Hano was a writer and Giants fan who, for one day at least, enjoyed exquisite timing. On September 29, 1954, he decided to head to the Polo Grounds and see if he could score a general admission seat for the first game of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The initial tension in the book comes from his worries that they'll sell out before reaching his place in the queue, the final when pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes hit his famous walk-off homerun off of Bob Lemon in the 10th inning. In between, of course, came The Catch; the archetypal Willie Mays play when he raced to the distant centerfield wall to haul in a drive by Vic Wertz, then spun and fired to second, preserving a 2-2 tie in the 8th.

By the time one of the most memorable moments in all of sports occurred, Mr. Hano had already filled his scorecard and the margins of that day's NY Times with notes about the proceedings. He turned them into what has managed to become one of best-loved and least-remembered of baseball books. It appears often on "best of" lists yet is also often out of print. If you can find a copy--I got mine on the great Paperbackswap.com--you should grab it. The author is a hilariously cranky bleacher bum, exchanging comments, questions and insults with the rest of the surrounding crowd and he has a wonderfully opinionated take baseball generally and the players and plays in the game in particular, combined with an encyclopedic memory of games, plays and players past.

Many baseball fans will have read Daniel Okrent's classic, Nine Innings, which resembles Mr. Hano's book. But where the former takes a single game as a jumping off point to explore the backgrounds of the participants, the latter is very much focused on the doings of this one game and of the way it was experienced in the bleachers. It's hard to imagine such "bums" even being able to afford tickets to a modern World Series game, nevermind managing to obtain them.

It also occurs to me that Don DeLillo must have used this book as the model for his opening section of Underworld--the only outstanding portion of the book. But it pales in comparison to Mr. Hano's extended account of the game that will forever be known for The Catch.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

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Sports (Baseball)
Arnold Hano Links:

    -Arnold Hano (Baseball Reference)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Catch
    -BOOK SITE: A Day in the Bleachers by Arnold Hano (Arion Press)
    -GOOGLE BOOK : A Day in the Bleachers by Arnold Hano
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Roberto Clemente, Batting King by Arnold Hano
    -ILLUSTRATOR PAGE: Mark Ulriksen
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Arnold Hano (Starkhouse Press)
    -ESSAY: A look back at A Day in the Bleachers (Arnold Hano, Arion Press)
    -ESSAY: A Family Affair: Sports Illustrated, a Johnny come lately, sends a member of the immediate family to cover the New York Giants' last rites at the Polo Grounds (Arnold Hano, 10/07/1957, Sports Illustrated)
    -ESSAY: Je-Ne-Sais-Quoits or Horseshoes? (Arnold Hano, September 13, 1964, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: The Battle of Mineral King (Arnold Hano, August 17, 1969, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY: Our Raymon, Our Friend (Bonnie and Arnold Hano, 5/19/2010)
    -REVIEW: of BASEBALL IN AMERICA. By Robert Smith (Arnold Hano, September 24, 1961, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE SECOND FIRESIDE BOOK OF BASEBALL. Edited by Charles Einstein (Arnold Hano, November 09, 1958, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE DAY AFTER THE FOURTH. By Turnley Walker (Arnold Hano, June 01, 1958, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: Back to the Bleachers: Fifty years after his landmark baseball book, writer Arnold Hano still enjoys the game among Dodger Stadium's distractions (Chris Epting, 8/27/2006, LA Times)
    -PROFILE: Hazy Sunshine, Vivid Memory (GEORGE VECSEY, 929/04, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: Some Diamonds Really Are Forever (Heidi Benson, 9/17/06, SF Chronicle)
    -INTERVIEW: Arnold Hano: A Career Retrospective (Behind the Book, 9/25/09)
    -INTERVIEW: Bronx Banter Q&A: Arnold Hano (Bronx Banter, 9/29/09)
    -PROFILE: Arnold Hano & Baseball (Reenie's Reach, 8/29/06)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: The Bookshelf Podcast: Arnold Hano (Ron Kaplan, July 8, 2012, Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf)
    -INTERVIEW: In search of a lost ballpark (Imran Vittachi, June 21, 2012, Coastline Pilot)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: A conversation with Laguna Beach treasure Arnold Hano (One Laguna, 6/07/14)
    -PROFILE: Our Laguna: Family, friends turn out for Hano's 90th (Barbara Diamond, 3/29/12, Coastline Pilot)
    -
   
-ESSAY: In Willie's time, he was No. 1 (Rob Neyer, ESPN.com)
    -BOOK LIST: The Top 25 Baseball Books for Your Desert Island (Jeff Polman, 03/ 6/2012, Huffington Post)
    -BOOK LIST: My All-Time Top 10 Favorite Baseball Books (James Preller Blog)
    -BOOK LIST: 20 Best Baseball Books Ever (Esquire)
    -BOOK LIST: THe World Series (Allen Barra, bookforum)
    -ARCHIVES: Hano (Sports Illustrated)
    -ARCHIVES: "arnold hano" (NY Times)
    -ARCHIVES: Arnold Hano (Unz.org)
    -REVIEW: of A Day in the Bleachers by Arnold Hano (Kirkus Reviews, August 8, 1955) Blockquote>[A]long with the score card on this particular game, inning by inning an out by out, there's a running reminiscence on other players and plays which is for the most part a genial (a little churlish when it comes to the supporting cast of other teams) and knowing appreciation. Still and all, it's not much more than a little pop fly- which isn't going to carry too far out of the infield.
    -REVIEW: of Day in the Bleachers (James T. Farrell, 8/07/1955, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Elaine Simpson, 11/12/1955, Saturday Review)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Michele Schiavone, Department of English, Marshall University)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Mark Hinton, Climbing Sky)
    -REVIEW: of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers ()
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Dodger Blue World)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (Jaybird's Jottings)
    -REVIEW: of of Day in the Bleachers (cubbiedude, View from the Bleachers)
    -REVIEW: of Sandy Koufax: Strikeout King by Arnold Hano (Ron Kaplan, NJ Jewish News : Kaplan's Korner)
    -REVIEW: of Roberto Clemente: Batting King, by Arnold Hano (Edward Grossman, Commentary)
    -REVIEW: of Flint by Arnold Hano (Dan Stumpf, Mystery File)
    -REVIEW: of Flint (James Reasoner, Rough Edges)
    -REVIEW: of Flint (Woody Haut)

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