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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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"KILL THE MOUTH! MURDER THE BUM!"

"According to rule 9.4, section e, of the Official—"

"BANISH THE BLIND BASTARD! CUT OFF HIS WHATSIS!"

"—game shall be resumed prior to that pitch. Thank you."

"BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

In the end it was necessary for the General to step out onto the field of play (as once he had stepped onto the field of battle), followed behind by the Tri-City Symphony Orchestra. By his order, the musicians (more terrified than any army he had ever seen, French, British, American or Hun) assembled for the second time that day in center field, and with two down in the ninth, and two strikes on the batter, proceeded to play the national anthem again.

" 'O say can you see,' " sang the General.

Through his teeth, he addressed Mike Masterson, who stood beside him at home plate, with his cap over his chest protector. "What happened?"

Mike said, "I—I saw him."

Agitated as he was, he nonetheless remained at rigid attention, smartly saluting the broad stripes and the bright stars. "Who? When?"

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