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I have seen the movie version of this book in which Robert Redford's character hits a game winning homer to clinch the pennant, shattering lights, creating his own fireworks, with memorable music in the background.
The written version, unfortunately, is not a As baseball season heats up, I find myself gravitating toward baseball related books in order to enhance my love for the game when I am not listening to or watching a game.
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The written version, unfortunately, is not as upbeat, and has a dark undertone to it. It begins the same as the movie as young Roy Hobbs is traveling to Chicago with his scout and mentor Sam Simpson to have a tryout with the Cubs.
En route their train stops at a county fair and major league star The Whammer, resembling Babe Ruth, happens to be on the same train.
A newspaperman challenges the two to a baseball duel, and Hobbs strikes out the Whammer on three pitches. A legend is born. Yet, in Chicago, a disturbed woman obsessed with striking down star athletes guns down Hobbs in her hotel room, and he disappears from organized baseball.
Fast forward fifteen years, and Hobbs resurfaces as a thirty five year rookie on the New York Knights, albeit with a mysterious past that he wishes to keep secret. The book follows the same trajectory as the movie in that Bump Bailey is killed running into a wall, and Hobbs takes his place in the middle of the lineup.
Immediately he starts hitting, and two women take notice: Memo, niece of Knights long suffering manager Pop Fisher and Iris, a black haired young grandmother in Chicago.
The rest of the book includes Hobbs' internal battle as to which life course to follow and which woman he would rather be with, as much as his quest to give Pop Fisher the pennant and allow both men to end their careers on a positive note.
Whereas the movie ended on the positive note and neatly tied up loose ends, the book's final scenes are dark and paint a picture of a flawed, fallen hero.
We are left wondering if Roy chooses Iris or if he goes back to the shadows from whence he came never to play ball again. For those expecting the fireworks, they will be disappointed.
I was left with a slightly bitter feel when I finished this classic. I rated it as high as I did because it does contain some fun baseball scenes as well as Malamud's prolific prose.
I would still recommend this as a book that baseball fans should read in their lifetimes, yet it is one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the book. A perfect read for baseball season, 3.The thesis statement of a comparison/contrast paper should contain an idea or claim that unites a discussion of the texts.
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