Guide to Baseball Novels: L
- LaBate, Jim. Mickey Mantle Day in Amsterdam. Illustrated by Brian Bateman. Clifton Park, NY: Mohawk River Press, 1999. The Comet's car breaks down upstate, and the town of Amsterdam spends a memorable summer's day with No. 7.
- LaFlamme, Mark. Asterisk. n.p.: Booklocker, 2006. In the not-too-distant future, a young fan learns why a famous ballplayer had his statue torn down and his memory disgraced.
SF novella that asks the question: what constitutes performance enhancement, and why do we fear it?
- Landers, Linda Stowe. A Season to Remember. New York: Avalon, 1989. Young ace sportswriter wins the love of a mega-star ballplayer.
One of Avalon's "Career Romances" series, which proceed in fairly typical paths toward a romantic resolution, while maintaining a strong interest in the professional success of the heroine.
- Lardner, Ring has his own page in the Guide.
- Lasser, Scott. Battle Creek. New York: Morrow, 1999. Michigan amateur baseball coach drives toward an elusive championship with the help of a young slugger sprung from prison and a crafty old spitballing pitcher.
This one collapses under the weight of its own clichés, which it offers with no apparent irony. Notable for having the largest body count (9 corpses) of any non-mystery baseball novel.
- Latour, José. Havana World Series. New York: Grove, 2003. Casino heist plays out against the backdrop of the 1958 World Series.
The Series is described in much detail, though it is mere background. Competent crime fiction with interesting historical and geographical material.
- Leavy, Jane. Squeeze Play. New York: Doubleday, 1990. Woman sportswriter for an imaginary Washington DC paper covers the (equally imaginary) return of the Senators to the capital.
A long, drawn-out team-of-misfits novel with way too much detail; the kind of book where every player on the team has a quirky character note and an impossible name.
- Lebowitz, Paul. Breaking Balls. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001. Junkball pitcher makes it from the lowest minors to the Show.
Step by painful step.
- Lefcourt, Peter. The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story. New York: Random House, 1992. Star double-play combination fall in love with each other, and are banned from baseball till a sportswriter named Zola champions their cause.
A thin attempt to be a feel-good book about gay romance; its humor is forced.
- Leonard, Sam. A Difficult Trade: The Baseball Mystery. San Francisco: Robert D. Reed, 2000. Would a Miami team owner, keen to break up a championship club, arrange for a hit man to shoot an overpaid and overinsured star?
Actually I'm sure the idea has occurred to Marlins owners more than once. In this fictional version, ace Miami detective Stanley Starfish tries to uncover the skullduggery.
- Levine, Peter. The Rabbi of Swat. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1999. Jewish pitcher from Brooklyn becomes a rookie sensation for the 1928 Giants.
A fantasia, narrated by Levine with counterpoint from the ghost of Babe Ruth. Nice evocations of 1920s New York help along a self-consciously familiar story.
- Littlefield, Bill. Prospect. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. The story of a young prospect's rise to the major leagues is told in counterpoint by his great-aunt and by the scout that she coaxes out of retirement to sign him.
Low-key novel with themes of rejuvenation, love, and interracial harmony.
- Logan, Kristina. Hometown Hero. New York: Silhouette, 1991. Fund-raiser strikes up a relationship with a swaggering, intensely masculine baseball star, and tries to rope him into helping with a celebrity cook-off.
Gauzy romance features the two main characters kissing, pulling away, circling in plot arcs for another few dozen pages, kissing more intensely, and so on, till Matt announces to Julie that he wants to marry her and have children with her: "I've been committed to baseball for so long that it was hard to believe that someone else was becoming more important to me" (185-186).
- Lombardo, Billy. The Man with Two Arms. New York: Overlook, 2010. A magnificent pitching prospect, trained to be ambidextrous by his father, develops clairvoyant abilities.
Numinous significance floats just beyond the reader's grasp in this peculiar magical-realist tale. Read more about The Man with Two Arms at lection.
- Looney, Mike. Heroes Are Hard to Find. Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2003. Magical-realist yarn features a veteran ballplayer turning boy again for another chance at life; loosely calqued onto the persona of Mickey Mantle.
- Lorenz, Tom. Guys Like Us. New York: Viking, 1980. Chicago softball star turns 30 and spirals deeper than ever into improvidence and unemployment.
A realistic comic novel that is sometimes too true to be funny. Lorenz's portraits of men giving up direction of their lives in everything except ballplaying are beautifully telling.
- Lupica, Mike. Wild Pitch. New York: Putnam's, 2002. Washed-up star, patched together by miracle doctor, gets a last shot at pitching in the majors.
Unfunny and notably foul-mouthed, riddled with ethnic stereotypes, this novel is stuck in a time-warp of clichés and plot formulas.