Guide to Baseball Novels: S
- Salisbury, Luke. The Cleveland Indian: The Legend of King Saturday. Brooklyn: The Smith, 1992. Young front-office man for the 1890s Cleveland Spiders befriends the larger-than-life title character.
Generous period detail, boldly-drawn characters, and interlocking romantic triangles liven this recreation of a salty era of baseball history.
- Santiago, Wilfred. 21. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2011. Roberto Clemente comes up from the sugar fields to Pittsburgh, stardom, and a date with tragic destiny.
Intense, difficult, oblique, and enigmatic graphic-novel bio of Clemente, stressing his energy and his heroism. Read more at lection.
- Sayers, Valerie. The Powers. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2013. A Brooklyn family lives through a stressful summer, while Joe DiMaggio embarks on a matchless hitting streak.
That rare Brooklyn-in-the-1940s novel where the Dodgers count for nothing. A convincing story of fandom and family, with an intriguing historical context, and distinctive aesthetic elements (such as the use of found photographs as illustrations). Read about The Powers at lection.
- Schiffer, Michael. Ballpark. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Star third-baseman who plays for a big-spending owner falls in love with sportswriter.
Brisk readable fare with no surprises; builds predictably toward a Big Game where our hero will get the decisive at-bat. Has some of the same themes that appear in Graham's Babe Ruth Caught in a Snowstorm, notably the idea of a team of oddballs built from scratch by a overweening owner; but the themes are turned toward melodrama rather than surrealism.
- Schilling, Peter, Jr. The End of Baseball. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2008. In a counterfactual 1944, Bill Veeck buys the Philadelphia Athletics and stocks the team with Negro League stars.
The "what-if" theme of Negro Leaguers taking the field alongside their Jim-Crow-era white counterparts has been popular in a number of counterfactual "historical" novels in recent years, including Rutkoff and King.
- Schuster, Joseph M. The Might Have Been. New York: Ballantine, 2012. Just up in the bigs, a veteran minor-leaguer loses his playing career to a knee injury; decades later, he's a veteran minor-league manager dealing with kids as clueless as he used to be.
Strongly-written realistic fiction that sidesteps formula and sentimentality. The central structural device – a gap of 32 years halfway through the narrative – almost breaks the book into a novella and its sequel.
- Scott, Harper. How I Helped the Chicago Cubs (Finally!) Win the World Series. Durham, NC: Aardwolf, 2005. In the year 2160, fed-up Cub fans resort to time travel to bring 1908 Cub stars to the present in hopes of (finally!) winning a Series.
- Seaver, Tom, with Herb Resnicow. Beanball. New York: Morrow, 1989. The reviled owner of a championship New York ballclub is found murdered, and a sportswriter must solve the crime.
Strictly by-the-numbers mystery, with much distracting and unrealistic inside-baseball detail.
- Shaara, Michael. For Love of the Game. New York: Carroll, 1991. Great veteran pitcher, upon learning that his team has traded him and his girlfriend is leaving him, goes out and pitches a perfect game.
Very weak in its baseball details, this novel was unpublished during Shaara's lifetime. It uses a stream-of-consciousness technique. Filmed without success in 1999.
- Shaw, Irwin. Voices of a Summer Day. New York: Delacorte, 1965. As a man turns 50, the sight of his son playing in an amateur baseball game causes him to reflect wryly on his life.
A deeply androcentric novel, deftly told and offering many insights into how sport forms personality.
- Shawn, Jim. When Everyone Loved the Game. Silver Spring, MD: Beckham, 2008. Pitcher makes comeback for Cubs.
- Shawver, Brian. The Cuban Prospect. Woodstock, NY: Overlook, 2003. Down-at-heels scout embarks on a redemptive mission: smuggle an ace-pitcher defector out of Cuba.
- Shefchik, Rick. Green Monster. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen, 2008. Red Sox Nation is shaken to its core by an allegation that the '04 postseason was fixed.
- Shilstone, Steve. Chance. New York: Breakaway, 1996. Career of star shortstop told in different voices and styles by a crusty old writer.
Sort of a Great-American-Novel lite.
- Shoemaker, Robert W., III. The Final Game. Sudbury, MA: Featherland Press, 1995. At Fenway Park, c1999: the seventh game of a World Series is the last in the old yard and the end of the line for a storied pitcher.
- Slattery, Marty. Diamonds are Trumps. Memphis: St. Luke's Press, 1990. Thirtysomething pitcher looks back over his life as he makes a belated try for pro glory with an A-league Dodgers' affiliate.
Mix in an elder brother killed in Korea, a failed marriage, and a crusty old manager who dies in the dugout, and you have a lot of stock elements to work with; but they are agreeably assembled. Slattery also writes under the pen name Edward Bear.
- Small, David. Almost Famous. New York: Norton, 1982. Ex-ballplayer, his career cut short by a car accident, wallows in memories and family dysfunctions for about 415 pages.
- Smith, H. Allen. Rhubarb. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1946. Rich old curmudgeon dies and leaves his major-league baseball team to his cat.
A smutty book from the days when it was thought clever to stay just on the safe side of blue material. Notable for its self-congratulatory bad taste. Filmed in 1951 with Ray Milland (the film is not available on video). See also similar stories about animals by McIlroy and Schramm.
- Smith, Mary-Ann Tirone, and Jere Smith. Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery. Kingston, RI: Hall of Fame Press, 2008. Abandoned in the clubhouse of the surging 2007 Red Sox, an orphan infant leads to a web of sinister dealings.
- Snyder, Don. J. Veterans Park. New York: Franklin Watts, 1987. Princeton-bred pitching phenom passes through low minors in rural Maine and falls in love with free-spirited daughter of local potato farmer.
In the momentous summer of '69, giving lots of opportunity for references to the moon landing, Vietnam, Woodstock, &c.
- Soos, Troy. Murder at Fenway Park. New York: Kensington, 1994. Mickey Rawlings, a rookie on the 1912 Red Sox, gets stuck in a web of gambling and murder.
The murder-mystery plot lacks forward momentum at times, but the historical baseball detail is interesting enough to keep readers pleasantly engaged. This novel is the first in a successful series of mysteries with old-timey baseball settings.
For an interleaved short story that has Mickey investigating a killing while on the 1913 Beaumont Oilers, see Soos's "Pick-off Play" (2001).
- Soos, Troy. Murder at Ebbets Field. New York: Kensington, 1995. Mickey Rawlings, utility player for the 1914 Giants, gets work as an extra in the movies – and finds the leading lady dead on a Brooklyn beach.
This sequel to Murder at Fenway Park is better for an ambiance that mixes baseball and the movies than for its mild mystery plot. Has some nice vignettes of baseball action, as Mickey does his best to please manager John McGraw.
- Soos, Troy. Murder at Wrigley Field. New York: Kensington, 1996. Mickey Rawlings, now with the 1918 Cubs, finds that baseball and wartime hysteria are a murderous mix.
Make a note--if you get to the big leagues, you do not want to room with Mickey Rawlings. This is the third in the series of baseball mysteries that finds the journeyman utility player in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Soos, Troy. Hunting a Detroit Tiger. New York: Kensington, 1997. Mickey Rawlings of the 1920 Tigers is framed for the killing of a union leader, and finds himself pursued by Wobblies, Feds, cops, and his own teammates.
Nicely wrought novel that takes an oblique approach to the storied 1920 baseball season. Soos works in about every possible aspect of the year's current events, and it's an interesting mix.
- Soos, Troy. The Cincinnati Red Stalkings. New York: Kensington, 1998. Mickey Rawlings of the 1921 Reds (now a crafty veteran) solves a set of murder mysteries – one in the present, one dating back to 1869.
Soos's Mickey Rawlings novels present a rare case of a series getting better as it goes on; this one has a nice twist and an interesting sense of what the history of the old Red Stockings might have looked like to contemporaries of the Black Sox. Soos acknowledges a debt to Brock in his preface.
- Soos, Troy. Hanging Curve. New York: Kensington, 1999. Mickey Rawlings of the 1922 St. Louis Browns plays in a semi-pro game against a Negro team – and later learns that the opposing pitcher has been lynched.
Intriguing historical fiction about segregation times. There's still plenty of baseball, too; but the plot device of having Mickey suspended by Judge Landis so he can stay home and fight crime is getting to be overused
- Spencer, Ross H. The Stranger City Caper. New York: Avon, 1980. Inept Chicago private eye is sent to case a one-horse-town baseball team.
Mix of hard-boiled and 1970s-zany styles.
Written in single-phrase paragraphs.
- Spoerl, Steve. Sut McCaslin: A Baseball Romance. San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2000. Journeyman benchwarmer muses on life, love, McCarthyism and baseball in the Senators' dugout in the 1950s.
- Standiford, Les. Done Deal. 1993. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Epigone Miami developer turns avenger when a baseball ownership group hungry for his land kidnaps his wife and starts killing his friends.
What some people won't do for an MLB franchise . . . despite its rather far-fetched premise, this South Florida hard-boiler has attractive characters (not least a profane hit-man). Baseball is less a topic than a pervasive background to the action.
- Stansberry, Domenic. The Spoiler. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987. Veteran journalist, running from his own past, gets embroiled in a mess of baseball and murder.
A mystery plot, but not a mystery tone, hero, or ending. And it's aggressively subtitled "A Novel," as if to say that this is serious fiction we have here, not just a crime thriller. Deserves some credit for trying.
- Stein, Aaron Marc [as George Bagby]. The Twin Killing. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1947. Rookie teammates caught in web of gambling and murder.
Better-than-decent lightly-boiled mystery.
- Stein, Harry. Hoopla. New York: St. Martin's, 1983. Lives of a sportswriter and a ballplayer converge on the 1919 World Series and its aftermath.
Splendidly detailed historical fiction, which can seem realer than non-fiction sometimes. Ultimately the lack of real plot and the stylized language of the narratives can wear on the reader, but the book is very intriguing.
- Stinson, David B. Deadball: A Metaphysical Baseball Novel. Rockville, MD: Huntington Park, 2011. Former minor-leaguer tours the sites of past or passing ballparks and becomes aware of echoes of the people who worked and played there.
- Stonecypher, A. L. A Day with Royalty. Omaha, 1901. Baseball in ancient Egypt.
Hokey proto-graphic-novel with a cover designed to look like the wrapper of an ancient papyrus manuscript; the central fold-out illustration is Opening Day translated into the age of the Pharaohs. A legend indicates that "Kimanli" (an avatar of President McKinley, perhaps) is ready to throw out the first pitch. A copy of this curiosity is on display in the Brooklyn Museum.
- Starr, Jason. Lights Out. New York: St. Martin's, 2006. Major-league star and ex-teammate from the old Brooklyn neighborhood fall out over a woman.
Acclaimed "neo-noir," though the prose is not taut enough for my taste.
- Strachan, Don. King of Diamonds. Middletown, CA: Penthe, 2004. "A lighthearted fable about baseball, sexual healing, biodiversity and parallel universes."
- Stratton, Jeff. Killing the Curse. New York: iUniverse, 2003. Detective is torn between solving a murder and seeing the Red Sox finally win the World Series.
- Sturm, James. The Golem's Mighty Swing. Montréal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2001. Graphic novel tracks the fortunes of the Stars of David, a team of Jewish barnstormers who take a promoter's advice and dress their enormous ex-Negro-League first baseman as a Golem.
Outstanding graphic fiction, a beautifully rendered, off-beat story.
- Sturm, James, and Rich Tommaso. Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. New York: Jump at the Sun / Hyperion, 2007. Graphic novel narrated by a fictional sharecropper who had a moment of glory batting against Satchel Paige, and many years later sees his son inspired by one of Paige's legendary pitching feats.
Succeeds by anchoring itself in sober realism, avoiding feel-good resolutions. Conveys the power of sport to establish the ideal of a level playing field that is in practice denied to the central characters in their economic and political lives.