Issue 34 of Creative Nonfiction is all about baseball. I have to admit, I’m a bigger fan of baseball writing than I am of the actual game, and this magazine does not disappoint. The essays cover many aspects of the game: its history, fandom, positions and paraphernalia. They include heavily researched articles and deeply personal memoirs, but all the essays reveal something fascinating about the game.
Yogi Berra writes the forward for this issue, pointing out that Americans will never run out of things to say about baseball: “I observe and follow and read about the game as much as ever. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever know all there is to know, and that’s the beauty.” After this, Kevin Baker describes the evolution of the baseball stadium from parks that were “little more than sandlots with rows of precarious wooden bleachers,” through big stadiums “that could be used just as easily for football games or rock concerts,” and back to parks with “quirky eccentric features” that attempt to recapture the past.
Among my other favorites was “My Outfield,” by J.D. Scrimgeour. Scrimgeour uses a second person perspective to give the reader the experience of being an outfielder, playing a position which is “a dumping ground for the weak-armed, the unskilled, the lefhanded.” I also enjoyed Caitlin Horrocks’ hilarious essay about the Finnish version of baseball, “Pesapallo, Playing at the Edge of the World.” As an American in Finland, Horrocks was expected to excel at this game. “Fins see pesapallo as a starter experience for foreigners, especially Americans,” she writes. “They bring it up when they aren’t sure if you’re ready for something like avantouinti, a single verb that means going-swimming-by-jumping-in-a-frozen-lake-through-a-hole-cut-in-the-ice.” This is one of three essays with a female author; the subject of baseball is not just for the boys.
This collection of creative nonfiction is informative, entertaining and diverse. Fans of baseball and fans of great writing alike will appreciate this magazine.