Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 1897 Cleveland Spiders were a talented baseball team, and Salisbury’s vividly rendered first novel captures the players, the memories surrounding them and the American public’s burgeoning obsession with baseball at the turn of the century. Salisbury focuses on the fictional relationship between narrator Henry Harrison–the team’s lawyer and a self-described “Krank,” as fans were called in those days–and the charismatic King Saturday, the club’s raucous, unpredictable and doomed American Indian superstar. Modeled after Lou Sockalexis–considered the first Native American major-leaguer and a real star for the Spiders in 1897 (you can look it up)–Saturday is rendered as a magisterial but unknowable figure of tremendous physical skills and enigmatic motivations. The character of 19th-century baseball–the aggressive tactics, hard-drinking players and pervasive gambling–is wonderfully depicted, as are the political tensions and social strictures of the period. Harrison’s earnest, crisp narrative voice is appealing. There are some flaws: certain sections–Harrison following Saturday to the steaming jungles of Cuba, for example–seem almost a parody of the adventure novel. It’s also unfortunate that we get to know the extraordinary King Saturday only through his schemes and his awesome deeds, and never through the articulation of his inner life.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A Penobscot Indian with a terrific arm and flexible morality takes Cleveland’s baseball team briefly to the top of the league in the 1890’s. The salaries were a tiny fraction of today’s, and Cleveland was in the National League, but even then there were gifted players who gambled and lawyers who would rather sit in the grandstands than in a courtroom. Henry Harrison is among the latter, a well- born but impoverished Ivy League graduate dazzled by the throwing arm, hitting skills, and romantic talents of Louis King Phillip Saturday, a half-ugly half-Indian from Maine. Saturday is signed by the Cleveland Spiders, who also hire Harrison as their lawyer. Harrison’s primary duty is to keep an eye on his wild friend–an assignment that introduces him to the seamier side of the Cuyahoga River. It does not take Harrison very long to discover that Saturday sees nothing wrong with betting on baseball, including his own games, and Henry finds himself willingly holding the bag and becoming Saturday’s business partner. Saturday’s such a good player and such a good gambler that the bag begins to fill up fast, and Harrison’s ambition to own his very own professional team begins to seem possible. Another similarity to today’s sport: worshipful women. In addition to managing the money, Harrison must keep Saturday’s admirers in order. Alas, Harrison himself fancies at least one of the ladies. When the glorious season with the Spiders spectacularly ends, Saturday, whose gambling has become an open secret, must take it on the lam to Cuba, Mexico, and Colorado. Standard Oil, of all things, figures into the action at every turn. Salisbury (the nonfictional The Answer is Baseball, 1989) offers brisk fun for the Bart Giamattis of this world. — Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Essentially a book of baseball trivia arranged in question-and-answer format, this poses enough baffling queries that fans will find themselves caught up in the contest. For instance, what pitcher has enjoyed the highest winning percentage against the New York Yankees? (The answer will astound every follower of the sport.) What was the claim to fame of Louis Sockalexis and why did his promising career end so suddenly? Which brothers hit the most home runs in major league history and which brothers were second? Salisbury uses his queries to introduce brief essays on the game and has his say about the tragedy of Tony Conigliaro (the author is a Red Sox fan), the advent and collapse of the Players League and baseball card mania. About Salisbury we are told only that he “has a great author’s name, America is his heart, and baseball in his blood.”
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Three offbeat books help open the 1989 season. Trivia expert Salisbury’s intriguing questions tease fans before he gives answers about pitching, batting, rookies, streaks, and other records. Meanwhile, he weaves in diamond history, baseball cards, baseball families, and the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. His book is a challenging test and happy browsing. Okrent (co-editor of The Ultimate Baseball Book, LJ 11/15/79) and Sports Illustrated editor Wulf step in with humorous tales–new and time honored. They carry their readers from baseball’s birth–not attended by Doubleday–to the 1986 Series in accounts that are happy fuel for the Hot Stove League. In Oddballs TV writer Shlain engagingly portrays the pranksters (e.g., Roger McDowell) eaters, and drinkers (Ruth, Boog Powell et al . ), along with assorted showoffs, hotheads, stuntmen, and even eggheads. His close-up portraits of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Oil Can Boyd, and Bill Lee are winning touches. The best of these three is Salisbury’s, while the others rate consideration.
– Morey Berger, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.