Guide to Baseball Novels: D
- Daniel, David, and Chris Carpenter. Murder at the Baseball Hall of Fame. New York: St. Martin's, 1996. Apparently accidental death of ex-major-leaguer in Cooperstown attracts attention of maverick PI.
- Davies, Valentine. It Happens Every Spring. New York: Farrar, 1949. Young scientist invents formula that makes him an unbeatable pitcher, the better to gain wealth and fame and marry the college president's daughter.
Novelization of the screenplay Davies wrote for the film starring Ray Milland; a breezy, slight effort that delivers an oddly crude look at the interplay between money, sex, class, academics and athletics; the novel is less urbane than the screenplay.
- DeAndrea, William L. Five O' Clock Lightning. New York: St. Martin's, 1982. A murder in the stands at Yankee Stadium draws a minor-league catcher into a nasty web of conspiracies.
Just a plain exciting detective story with well-written action scenes.
- Deford, Frank. Casey on the Loose. New York: Viking, 1989. Elaboration of Deford's Sports Illustrated story "Casey at the Bat", which is in turn an elaboration of Ernest Thayer's poem. Handsomely illustrated and produced.
- Deford, Frank. The Entitled. Naperville: Sourcebooks, 2007. Journeyman manager Howie Traveler, finally in the bigs, sees his job endangered by a spoiled star.
Testimonials from players and managers festoon the dust jacket of this rather ordinary novel, vouching for its keen insider realism, but the basic premise doesn't ring true. "If Juan Francisco Alcazar, El Jefe—The Chief—could not put out his best for Howie (which this season he evidently chose not to) then it would be just a matter of time before Diaz was brought in" (3-4). Perhaps some observers think that this must happen, but you can't point to any real-life parallels: who outlasted who in Boston, after all, Terry Francona or Manny Ramirez?
- DeLillo, Don. Underworld. New York: Scribner, 1997. The ball that Bobby Thomson hits off Ralph Branca to win the 1951 pennant unites scores of characters as it passes from hand to hand over the next 45 years.
Perhaps better characterized as memorabilia fiction than baseball fiction, this novel is nonetheless an outstanding use of baseball themes in postmodern American writing.
- DeLillo, Don. Pafko at the Wall. New York: Scribner, 2001. Drawn together at the Polo Grounds to watch the final playoff game in 1951, several real and invented characters find their lives intertwined with baseball and with world-historical events.
Compelling hyperrealist fiction, though you may feel less than compelled to buy this book, which is basically a reprint of the first chapter of Underworld packaged separately for $16.00. First published in Harper's in 1992.
- Dinger, Ed. A Prince at First: The Fictional Autobiography of Baseball's Hal Chase. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002. The memoirs of one of baseball's most sinister characters, imagined vividly here.
- Donohue, James F. Spitballs & Holy Water. New York: Avon, 1977. Negro-Leagues legend tells the story of how Sister Timothy, a black nun with supernatural abilities, pitched the Chicago American Giants to victory over the 1927 Yankees, in the process humiliating the KKK and facing down both Satan and Al Capone.
That plot outline has the potential for sheer dreadfulness, but this is a very pleasant surprise, an intelligent, quirky, energetic manhandling of American history. Read more at lection.
- Duncan, David James. The Brothers K. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Family saga of an ex-minor-leaguer and his sons, sprinkled with observations on Baseball and Life.
A highly-regarded novel; I just find it interminable.
- Dyja, Thomas. Play for a Kingdom. New York: Harcourt, 1997. During the Wilderness campaign of 1864, a detachment of Union troops plays a series of baseball games against a similar Confederate detachment; the series is a cover for a desperate espionage mission.
The battle scenes and the baseball scenes alike are fairly tedious, but the spy story is exciting. Ultimately Dyja's novel has too many characters, but develops some interesting themes, is well-researched, and well-written.