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THE GREAT AMERICAN ROOKIE
Philip Roth
March 12, 1973
"Call me Ishmael" wrote Herman Melville in one literature's famed opening lines. "Call me Smitty" parodies Philip Roth as he begins The Great American Novel, which will be published in May by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Smitty is a sportswriter with a whale of a tale to tell. The plot concerns the travails of an illstarred baseball team—and the morals are many. This excerpt describes the astonishing events of the' 33 season.
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March 12, 1973

The Great American Rookie

"Call me Ishmael" wrote Herman Melville in one literature's famed opening lines. "Call me Smitty" parodies Philip Roth as he begins The Great American Novel, which will be published in May by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Smitty is a sportswriter with a whale of a tale to tell. The plot concerns the travails of an illstarred baseball team—and the morals are many. This excerpt describes the astonishing events of the' 33 season.

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The first pitch was a fastball aimed right at the batter's mandible. In the stands, a woman screamed—"He's a goner!" But down went the Aceldama player just in the nick of time.

"That's one!" roared Mike.

The second pitch was a second fastball aimed at the occipital. "My God," the woman screamed, "it killed him!" But miracle of miracles, the batter in the dust was seen to move.

"That's two!" roared Mike, and calling time, proceeded to do some tidying up around home plate. Then he turned to the mound to chat awhile. "Ball get away from you?" he asked Gamesh.

Gamesh spat high in the air back over his shoulder, a wad that landed smack in the middle of second base, right between the feet of the Aceldama runner standing on the bag. "Nope."

"Then, if you don't mind my asking, how do you explain nearly taking this man's head off. two times in a row?"

"Ain't you never heard of the intentional pass?"

"Oh no. Oh no, not that way, son," said Mike the Mouth. "Not in the Big Time, I'm afraid."

"Play!" screeched Gamesh, mocking the umpire's foghorn, and he motioned him back behind the plate where he belonged. "Ump, Masterson, that's what they pay you to do."

"Now listen to me, Gil," said Mike, "if you want to put this man on intentionally, then pitch out to him, in the time-honored manner. But don't make him go down again. We're not barbarians in this league. We're men, trying to get along."

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