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Thanks to the Hollywood movie, we're most likely to think of football when we remember George Plimpton and his participatory journalism. But several years before he suited up with the Detroit Lions, before he sparred with Archie Moore, before he played goalie for the Bruins or golf on the PGA tour, he began it all by facing Major Leaguers at the 1960 All-Star game. That's the story he recounts here.

The idea was that before the game he would face the eight starters for both teams and then write about it for Sports Illustrated. Of course, in those pre-ESPN days such a stunt was not subject to the kind of hype it would be today--he was introduced, somehow fittingly, as "George Prufrock" by the PA announcer and half of the platers seem to have had no idea what was going on. And, in those pre-free agency days, it's rather amusing to see how seriously the opposing squads take the opportunity to split a $1000, which will go to whichever league gets the most total bases off of Plimpton. But, this was also back in the day before we knew as much about pitch counts as we do today, and there's the rub. Plimpton hadn't asked for an ump or established many ground rules so guys just started waiting for something to hit. Having retired Richie Ashburn and Willie Mays he gave up a double to Frank Robinson and then Ernie Banks settled into the batters' box for a good long stay and eventually saw some 23 pitches before flying out. though he did face a few more batters Plimpton was essentially done for the day by then. Manager Ralph Houk had to come out and relieve him before he'd even gotten to the end of the NL line-up and when he trudged to the bench Whitey Ford and Billy Martin expressed their bemused concern for his health. Consider that modern managers limit most professional starters to about 100 pitches and that what Plimpton proposed was throwing about that many consecutively to the best players in baseball and you can see the makings of the disaster. Naturally, Mr. Plimpton took it all with his accustomed good humor and deserved humility, leaving behind this funny memoir.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

Sports (Baseball)
George Plimpton Links:

    -George Plimpton (Wikipedia)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: George Plimpton (
    -The Plimpton Project
    -Paris Review
    -New York State Writers Institute - George Plimpton
    -OBIT: George Plimpton: Fashionable American writer who founded the Paris Review and turned sports journalism into an art form (Eric Homberger, September 29, 2003, The Guardian)
    -OBIT: Author George Plimpton dies at age 76 (AP, 9/23/03)
    -OBIT: George Plimpton, Author, Dies at 76 (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/26/03)
    -OBIT: George Plimpton (Daily Telegraph, 27/09/2003)
    -ESSAY: The Curious Case of Sidd Finch: He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga -- and his future in baseball (George Plimpton, April 1, 1985, Sports Illustrated)
    -ESSAY: An Old Baseball April Fools' Hoax (ALAN SCHWARZ, 4/01/05, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: James Thurber: The Art of Fiction X-Excerpt (Interviewed by George Plimpton and Max Steele, Fall 1955, The Paris Review)
    -INTERVIEW: Trumpeting Truman: A conversation with George Plimpton about Truman Capote (Tanya Stanciu and Amy Nickell, June 1998, Gadfly)
    -ESSAY: Life begins at Mach 2 (GEORGE PLIMPTON, September 29, 2003, Popular Mechanics)
-READING: from Pet Peeves (Read by George Plimpton, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW: George Plimpton: "He probably thought that they wouldn't mind. After all, he was a writer, what did they expect?" (interviewed by Ron Hogan, Beatrice)
    -CHAT: George Plimpton on TIME 100 Hero & Icon Muhammad Ali (America Online Transcript from June 14, 1999)
    -INTERVIEW: E.L. Doctorow: The author tells George Plimpton about the trouble he has writing absence notes for his daughter and argues that it isn't necessary to go to war to become a writer. (Interview by George Plimpton, 12/19/00, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW: Hunter S. Thompson (Interviewed by the Paris Review) -INTERVIEW: Le Carré the spy: The author talks about working in the "secret world" during the Cold War and why he's a total bore. (Interview by George Plimpton, 12/08/00, Salon)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: with George Plimpton (Don Swaim, 1986, Wired for Books)
    -INTERVIEW: with George Plimpton: on Truman Capote (Bold Type)
    -TRIBUTE: Remembering George Plimpton: Writer, 'Paris Review' Founder Dies at Age 76 in New York Home (Mike Pesca, NPR: Day to Day)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Plimpton talks to NPR's Mike Pesca on the 40th anniversary of the publication of 'Paper Lion.' (Mike Pesca, Sept. 22, 2003, NPR)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: George Plimpton and 'The Paris Review': Famed Literary Journal Celebrates 50th Anniversary (Jacki Lyden, Aug. 24, 2003, NPR)
    -OBIT: Plimpton obituary on 'Morning Edition' (Bob Edwards and NPR's Frank Deford, Sept. 26, 2003, NPR: Morning Edition)
    -TRIBUTE: 'Paris Review' Co-Founder Remembers Plimpton (NPR, Sept. 26, 2003, All Things Considered)
    -TRIBUTE: Scott Simon Essay: George Plimpton (Scott Simon, Sept. 27, 2003, NPR: Weekend Edition)
    -TRIBUTE: Amateur Night on 72nd Street: George Plimpton ran the Paris Review, played with the Detroit Lions, wrote books, and interviewed Hemingway. (As told to Amanda Fortini and Meghan O'Rourke, Sept. 29, 2003, Slate)
    -TRIBUTE: George Plimpton, uber alles (Hunter S. Thompson,
    -TRIBUTE: In Memoriam: George Plimpton (Online NewsHour: , September 26, 2003)
    -TRIBUTE: GEORGE PLIMPTON (The New Yorker, 2003-10-06)
    -ARCHIVES: George Plimpton (Salon)
    -ARCHIVES: The New York Review of Books: George Plimpton
    -ARCHIVES: George Plimpton (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career by George Plimpton (Julia Reed, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of THE X FACTOR A Quest for Excellence. By George Plimpton (David Walton, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of THE PARIS REVIEW ANTHOL of THE CURIOUS CASE OF SIDD FINCH By George Plimpton (A. Bartlett Giamatti, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of OPEN NET By George Plimpton (Roger Simon, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of FIREWORKS By George Plimpton (Fred Ferretti, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of EDIE: An American Biography. By Jean Stein. Edited with George Plimpton (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of WRITERS AT WORK, FIFTH SERIES. Edited by George Plimpton (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of
-REVIEW: of Home Run: The Best Writing About Baseball's Most Exciting Moment Edited by George Plimpton (Paul Lukas, Village Voice)

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