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    Could an aim so worthy as denying the Yankees a tenth consecutive pennant be evil?
        -The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant

This is the question that Joe Boyd must face when Mr. Applegate offers him the chance to help his beloved Washington Senators (of Washington it was often said, first in Peace, first in War, last in the American League) defeat the hated Yankees.  It is July 21, 1958 and the middle aged Joe agrees to give Mr. Applegate his soul in exchange for two months of youth and vigor as Joe Hardy.  During those two months he hits over .450 with 48 home runs, but he is plagued by guilt over the way the team is winning and over leaving his wife behind.  To make matters worse NY Bugle columnist Luster Head sets about trying to expose him as a phony and Applegate places Lola, the most beautiful woman in the world, in Joe's path.

If all of that sounds familiar, you've recognized the plot of Damn Yankees (1958) which was based on this terrific novel.  It's hard for us to relate to the numbing experience that fans of opposing teams suffered in the 50's as the Yankees completely dominated the decade.  But the emotion of being willing to make a deal with the devil is one that all of us know well--especially Red Sox fans.

Nobody has ever satisfactorily explained why there are dozens of great baseball books and so few good ones about the other sports, but this book is another example of the classic literature spawned by America's pastime.


Grade: (A)


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Sports (Baseball)
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