Baseball is our national pastime and its stars, critics, and storytellers are no stranger to Fresh Air. Over the years, Terry Gross and frequent Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies have interviewed some of baseball biggest names, including Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson.
Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher Bob Feller. Some call him the fastest pitcher in history---taking the mound for the Cleveland Indians when just a teenager, Feller racked up 266 wins, struck out over 2500 batters, and pitched the only opening day no-hitter in major league history. In his new book, "Now Pitching, Bob Feller: A Baseball Memoir," he recounts his more 50 years in the game. (The book is co-authored with writer Bill Gilbert and published by Birch Lane Press).
The hitter had a swing so pure and flawless that Mickey Mantle would watch him take batting practice. But he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself. Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers a deeply personal account of Williams' life in The Kid.
Frank Robinson, Assistant General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles. In 1975, he became the first black manager in baseball, As a player, Robinson was legendary -- he is the only person to ever to win the Most Valuable Player award in both leagues. (Rebroadcast)
Satchel Paige was a dazzling pitcher with a scorching fastball. A decade before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in Major League Baseball, Paige helped integrate the sport by touring the country and playing exhibition games with white players. Larry Tye, the author of the biography Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, describes Paige's pre-game performance as the show before the show.
Baseball great Willie Mays, one of the most potent all-round players in the history of baseball. In his 22 seasons in the major leagues, Mays played in 21 All-Star Games, batted over .300 and hit 660 home runs. His autobiography, Say Hey, has just been published. (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)
New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey is currently the only knuckleball pitcher in the major leagues. His memoir, Wherever I Wind Up, explains how his life -- and career -- have mimicked the unpredictable trajectory of the difficult pitch he throws game after game.
Hailed as "the best baseball movie ever," Sugar follows one young man's journey from a village in the Dominican Republic to a minor league baseball team in Iowa. Filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck talk about creating the film.
A 1986 interview with former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton. In 1970, Bouton's memoir "Ball Four" was published. Those who wanted to maintain major league baseball's image as the home of heroes were scandalized by the book; others thought it was about time someone revealed that baseball is full of real people and real problems. "Ball Four" made an enemy for Bouton of baseball legend Mickey Mantle by reminiscing about Mantle's on and off-field drunkenness. (Rebroadcast of 12/8/1986)
It's hard to focus right now. So recommending a book can seem, well, out-of-touch. Unless, that is, the recommendation is for a novel that's so absorbing, so fully realized that it draws you out of your own constricted situation and expands your sense of possibilities. For me, over the past 10 days or so, the novel that's performed that act of deliverance has been The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel.