On the eve of the World Series, I figured it's time for talking baseball.....
HENRY WIGGEN & BRUCE PEARSON
AS SEEN IN:
'The U.S. Steel Hour'
"Bang The Drum Slowly"
Paul Newman as Henry "Author" Wiggen
Albert Salmi as Bruce Pearson
[BookWorld, Toobworld, Cineverse]
"Bang the Drum Slowly" is a novel by Mark Harris, a sequel to "The Southpaw" (1953). It was first published in 1956, and was later made into a 1956 'U.S. Steel Hour' television adaptation starring Paul Newman and a later film adaptation in 1973.
Harris' narrator Henry "Author" Wiggen, a star pitcher, tells the story of a baseball season with the New York Mammoths (a fictional team based on the New York Giants as noted in the author's book "Diamond - The Baseball Writings of Mark Harris") -- a season notable for the team's success but blighted by the Hodgkin's Disease of catcher Bruce Pearson. Wiggen tries to be supportive of Pearson while concealing his illness.
The title comes from the song "The Streets of Laredo", sung by one of the ballplayers (Piney Woods, a back-up catcher recently recalled from the minors) at a team gathering. The version of the song that he sings contains the lyrics, "O bang the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly...."
The novel is written in the vernacular, with idiosyncratic awkward writing by the "author" that Harris has "employed," pitcher Henry Wiggen.
The last line of the novel, "From here on in I rag nobody", was ranked number 95 on American Book Review's "100 Best Last Lines from Novels" in 2008.
In the New York City of Toobworld, the major baseball teams are now the Yankees, the Mets, and the Empires (from 'Clubhouse'). In the years since this production, the Mammoths have probably been sold and moved to a new location out of state. Perhaps somewhere out West and along the Canadian border. The name is a good fit for such a location.
Two for Tuesday!