Baseball, the quintessential American game, is the source of inspiration for many a writer. If I have single favorite short story on the sport, it likely is “The Thrill of the Grass” by W.P. Kinsella, who it just so happens is Canadian. Perhaps it’s that across-the-border perspective that allows him such keen insight into “our” game and how much it matters to all of us, no matter what our nationality.
In “Thrill,” Kinsella spins a yarn about a baseball fan discomfited during a strike that shuts down the game at mid-summer. The man hatches a scheme and secretively enlists the help of a corporate executive, who joins him in a late-night visit to the ball park. They cut out a chunk of artificial turf and replace it with a patch of sod.
The story, wonderfully revealing itself page by page, continues night by night as more and more fans arrive and replace the plastic carpet with real grass. It’s a splendid story that I’ve read a number of times and even have listened to as part of an audiobook compilation of baseball stories.
Curiously, I have not actually read the full “Thrill of the Grass” collection. But I have read other works of Kinsella, notably the marvelous “Shoeless Joe,” the book on which the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams” was based. More on the book and movie in future posts.
Until then, I highly recommend that all baseball fans seek out “The Thrill of the Grass.” I’m going to find myself a copy of the collection.