On those nights when the Twins have an off day and there’s no ball game, there are some novels that are fine for that kind of time.  Here are three.

Shoeless Joe (Kinsella) You know it as FIELD OF DREAMS, which was its movie name, but here’s the story of how Ray Kinsella, his wife and their daughter tear out their corn crop to build a baseball field in order for Shoeless Joe Jackson to come back to life and play baseball once again. The book is a bit different in some ways, but it is just as magical as the movie – for example, in the movie we get James Earl Jones as Terence Mann, the controversial writer of ROCK THE BOAT. Well, Mr. Kinsella’s author in his version was none other than J.D. Salinger and his CATCHER IN THE RYE. The movie version was altered because Mr. Salinger wouldn’t allow his name to be used in the movie. In any case, it is a good example of the movie and the book being quite equally fulfilling.

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The Natural (Malamud) This story comes to us out of a real life situation. Back in the 1940s, a ballplayer names Eddie Waitkus finds himself stalked by a fan and is shot in a hotel room. Malamud takes that true story and weaves a good tale about a mysterious man who shows up in major league baseball and tears up the league with his hitting, bringing with him an air of a mysterious past. The movie version – a bit slow, but still good, stars Robert Redford and Glenn Close.

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Bang the Drum Slowly (Harris) I clearly have a penchant for novels that were turned into movies, and this one is no different. The novel and the movie deal with a pitcher who befriends a catcher, who is a bit on the dimmer side, and also has to deal with a secret that the catcher fears will get him thrown out of baseball if it comes out. The pitcher learns the secret and helps keep that secret under wraps from the team owner and the manager with interesting results. The movie has Michael Moriarity (later of LAW AND ORDER FAME) as the pitcher and a very young Robert DiNiro as the catcher.

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Any others? I would love to hear your favorites as well.

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