The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
October 7, 2019 5:57 PM - by Robert Coover - Subscribe

J. Henry Waugh is an accountant, albeit an unhappy one. However, each night after he comes home from work, Henry immerses himself in a world of his choosing: a baseball league in which every action is ruled by the dice.

The book asks interesting questions about theology, loneliness, power, control, and obsession. Ultimately, the baseball isn’t even important, although I do think this would be a difficult book to get through if you aren't a fan of the game.

The baseball in the book is a vehicle to think about what happens when fiction intrudes so completely that the line between fiction and real ceases to exist. Does it matter if generations later the fiction becomes fact, to the point it honoured and mythologized by its own holiday?

Also, this book was written in 1968. Strat-O-Matic baseball did exist, however the obsessive detail in Henry's league in this game foreshadows fantasy baseball and Moneyball by 20+ years. Also, the book contains the single greatest collection of baseball player names every recorded.
posted by COD (3 comments total)
OK, here's a book I never expected to show up here (and I won't be surprised if this is the only comment).

When I was being born, men weren't (commonly) allowed in the room where all the action was taking place. This is the book my dad read hanging out in the waiting room. So I've always felt a special connection to it. Becoming a big Strat-O-Matic fan in my teens didn't hurt either.

As with Gravity's Rainbow, I've read this enough times that I have tunes written to all of the songs in it. The players themselves are just about as real to me as actual historical MLB players. Time for another read, I think!
posted by dfan at 6:13 PM on October 7, 2019

I've always meant to get around to reading this, I should move it up on the list.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on October 7, 2019

Wow I completely forgot about this book. I barely recall it, so maybe it is time for a re-read.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:36 PM on October 9, 2019

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