Arnold Hano

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Sometimes in his last years they’d take him out after maybe seven innings for defensive purposes. And we kids, we knew better, we knew the rule, but we’d yell “We want the Babe! We want the Babe!” from the 7th inning until the 9th inning. Once in a while he’d come out of the dugout and he’d lift up his cap or do something like that. We knew he couldn’t come back into the lineup, but that didn’t stop us. That’s the way we were. We loved him, and he loved us, which was very nice. A great combination.

as quoted in
"Bronx Banter Interview:
Arnold Hano
"
Alex Belth's Bronx Banter
Sept 25, 2009

Arnold Philip Hano (born March 2, 1922) is an American editor, novelist, biographer and journalist, best known for his non-fiction work, A Day in the Bleachers, a critically acclaimed eyewitness account of Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, centered around its pivotal play, Willie Mays' famous catch and throw.

Quotes[edit]

Sports-related[edit]

Chronological, by original publication date.


  • Finally Jones came in with a blinding fastball, the way Sad Sam used to throw ’em, and Clemente unloaded. The wind was blowing in from left field that day, and blowing hard. This was 1960, remember, before the fences had been moved in, and nobody was hitting home runs at Candlestick. Not Mays, not Cepeda, not anybody. Clemente’s bat hit the ball, and the result absolutely clubbed the crowd into awed silence for a long moment. Right into that wet whipping wind the ball carried. Right on through, hit 120 feet high in a long soaring majestic parabola that came down finally over 450 feet away. There is just no way of telling how far Clemente’s home run blast would have traveled had it not been for that wind. Suffice it to say partisan Giant fans suddenly broke their shell-shocked silence and let loose a gagantic roar. For two innings the stadium buzzed. For days the Giants talked about it. Even today if you slip up behind a Giant pitcher and suddenly whisper in his ear: ‘Remember the home run Clemente hit?’ he’s likely to jump as high as if he’d been caught putting spit on baseballs.
    • From "Roberto Clemente: Arriba!" in Baseball Stars of 1962 (March 1962), edited by Ray Robinson, p. 115


  • In that one moment, during an era in which sluggers threatened to take over the sport, Carl Hubbell had restored to pitching its true eminence. The man with skill in his arm, courage in his heart, and craft in his brain, could still set down the brute man with the club. It meant more than a man striking out great hitters; it stood for baseball's interpretation of man's growth. We have come away from men with clubs and dim brains. Hubbell's performance those five outs was baseball's way of representing all this, of representing the contest between brains and brawn. Never was brawn so thoroughly routed.
    • From Greatest Giants of Them All (1967), p. 82


  • When he quit, he grew cotton down South, tinkered in real estate, owned an auto dealership, and made enough money so that once he tried to buy the Giants, and on other occasions tried to buy into the Dodgers and other clubs. Nothing ever came of it. He kept a hand in baseball, though. In 1955 he became president of the Sally League, and then there was the time he showed up for an old-timers' game at Yankee Stadium, Terry now over fifty years old, gray and more hunched than ever. It was surely an odd place to find this man who never got any fun out of baseball, as they say, but there he was, and at least he would go through the paces. He came to bat just once, and the pitch was inside, shoulder high. Terry, who held his bat at his shoulder, a motionless man at the plate, let loose his short, sweet stroke, and the ball was a blur, drilled on a long, high line into the upper deck of the Stadium, for a home run. Reporters never said whether Terry gave a little joyous leap or whether he clapped his hands or even smiled. But you know pride was like blood pounding through him.


  • The impregnability of his stonewall defense rested on his ability to reach the ball, and then throw it. Now he could move less well; now he was not coming up with the ball with that "perfect technique" Eddie Brannick had once admired, his body beautifully balanced, the ball directly in front of him. Now it was a movement full of desperate lunges. Fortunately he had his great arm, so even off-balance, he was throwing out runners, and each time he'd throw—though it had happened hundreds of prior times—the fans at the Polo Grounds, or elsewhere around the league, would gasp at the low blur that streaked across the diamond, dead on target. But he had more than a powerful arm. He had courage. And on he played, in pain and out.


  • He had made one of the greatest catches in Polo Grounds history; he had played third base as no Giant before or since ever played it; he was a slashing hitter and a scientific hitter; he played baseball with courage and spirit. Yet, somehow, failure hovered about him; a pebble in a base line is remembered more than his 24-game hitting streak; his feud with McGraw is recalled more vividly than his 4 hits in a single game against Walter Johnson or the three times he made three hits in a single game all the same season. His spat with Hornsby and his disagreement with Terry come more quickly to mind than those five years he tore pitchers apart; more quickly to mind than the years he hit .358 and .379.

    It ought not to be that way. Two pebbles in a base line can cause a team to lose a World Series, but they can't wipe out the dazzling years, the .311 lifetime average. Two pebbles ought not persuade baseball men to say Devlin or Groh or Herzog, but somehow they do. So we put Lindstrom here, on this greatest Giant team, and we put the pebbles back where they belong—as part of a rocky past that littered his way, but in no way diminished the greatness of Fred Lindstrom.
    • On Fred Lindstrom, from "Lindy," in Greatest Giants of Them All (1967), pp. 196-197


  • When he died, he held fourteen baseball records, a little man with a bashful smile, a silken swing, baseball's legendary nice guy. His death was the worst that could have happened to baseball, but his playing career had been the best.


  • McGraw was an improviser, a teacher. He brought much to the game that keeps baseball fresh and suspenseful today—the hit-and-run play, the steal, the squeeze play, the uses of the bunt and the defenses against it. He helped turn the game into a thing of fluid beauty, infielders charging the plate or roaming far from their bases, outfielders moving with each pitch, racing in for base hits before them, backing each other in the outfield, entering the infield itself on rundown plays. Yet when the game changed radically, with the introduction of the livelier baseball, McGraw naturally shifted to a power emphasis, founding his team about such men as George Kelly, Bill Terry, Mel Ott. He knew, too, that the old pitching style of permitting a man to hit a deadened ball because it would then be caught in the big fields had to be changed, and his staffs led the league year after year in strikeouts, in earned-runs.
    • From Greatest Giants of Them All, pp. 248–249.


  • He wanted to win so badly it killed him. But before it killed him, it elevated the game of baseball, at the Polo Grounds, to a grim spectacle of play-war. The analogy fits McGraw. He reminds you more of a battlefield general than he does a sportsman, and if he reminds you of a general, it would be a man who combined the fury of a Patton and the spectacular, yet knowledgeable, flair of MacArthur. Perhaps this desire to win occasionally overflowed its normal limits and became an obsession; perhaps the grimness darkened the sport at times. This was his weakness, for McGraw was not infallible; McGraw was not perfect. Perfection is lifeless, mechanical, uncaring. McGraw was never uncaring. If he was anything, he was a man who cared.
    • From Greatest Giants of Them All. p. 250.


  • On the last Sunday in September in smoggy Los Angeles, announcer Vin Scully riffed through some notes as Willie McCovey came to bat for the last time that season before the Chavez Ravine folks. "Let's see," said Scully, "no home runs since September 11. . . .Well, it's been a long season. McCovey's got to be tired. Big as he is, he's probably worn out." So Scully was looking down at his papers when he heard the familiar crack. Worn-out Willie had just driven the ball over the right field fence, over the bullpen, and into Glendale. Scully did not see the pitch McCovey hit. It had been a palm ball lobbed up by Pete Mikkelson, the kind of pitch that floats up like a dead flounder, and usually goes about as far as dead flounders fly when you hit one. If you hit one. This one traveled a couple of miles or more, and Willie McCovey had home run number 45, to break his tie with Hank Aaron and win for McCovey his second consecutive National League home-run title.
    • From "Willie McCovey: Now No. 1 Willie," in Baseball Stars of 1970 (March 1970), edited by Ray Robinson, p. 19


  • He's not really a difficult interview. You just have to catch the essence and rhythm of what he's saying. I'd ask him how baseball has changed over the past 25 years and he'd start telling me about his life as a dental student in Kansas City.
    • On Casey Stengel, as quoted in "Loquacious Sportswriter: Arnold Hano Calls 'em as He Sees 'em in World of Sports" by Earl Gustkey, in The Los Angeles Times (April 23, 1970), p. D1


  • I enjoyed that interview. He's a guy who not only says what he means but backs it up, too. I'll never forget the night I interviewed him. It was a rainy night at his house in L.A. and I kept looking outside on the lawn. He had this big black Doberman he called Rommel, and it sat out there in the rain eating a chaise lounge.
    • On Deacon Jones, as quoted in "Loquacious Sportswriter: Arnold Hano Calls 'em as He Sees 'em in World of Sports"


  • A myth has it that in the Texas League some years back, Billy Williams hit a line drive so hard it broke the leg of a rival first baseman. The myth is total nonsense. Williams actually hit a one-bounce ground shot that broke the leg of a rival second baseman. When Billy Williams sets the record straight, he laughs, and tiny white lights glitter in his black eyes, like the tips of icepicks. You know," he says, "nobody likes to hurt anybody. But you have to think I hit that ball pretty good." This is the Billy Williams laugh. It is not a friendly laugh. It is the laugh of an arrogant hitter. Stan Musial used to giggle that way, and no one would confuse it with a girlish giggle. Ted Williams used to grin that way when he talked about hitting. Not a friendly grin; a wicked grin. That is Billy Williams' laugh. It is probably the way the legendary Billy the Kid laughed before he killed a man. Cold as the tip of an icepick. Not that Billy Williams is not a friendly man. He is. Very. He is one of the nicest guys in baseball. But he knows how to separate the two—nice guy, big league hitter.
    • From "Billy Williams: Invisible Iron Man," in Baseball Stars of 1971 (March 1971), edited by Ray Robinson, p. 106


  • Nolan Ryan is simply a flame-thrower. They call him The Express. Get it? Ryan's Express. Harmon Killebrew says if he ever gets hit by Ryan's express, he'll have the pitcher arrested for manslaughter. Oakland slugger Reggie Jackson says Ryan is the only pitcher he's afraid of, down-deep-in-the-guts afraid of. "If a pitch ever gets away from him, he will kill someone." Nolan Ryan pitches for the California Angels, in Anaheim, which you also wouldn't confuse with New York. Thus, few people really know what an exciting young man this is, perhaps the most exciting single performer in baseball today. Yes, I've heard of Hank Aaron. For years I beat the drums, by myself, for Roberto Clemente. I like the cool gall of Vida Blue, the hot moxie of Pete Rose. They all excite me. But not down deep in the guts, the way this kid does. He excites me. He frightens me. He puts me on that double-pronged fork of attraction and revulsion. When you watch Nolan Ryan rear and throw that screaming blur of white toward the plate, you don't know whether to watch or cover your eyes. Will he strike out the hitter, or will he strike him dead?
    • From "Nolan Ryan: The Untouchable," in Baseball Stars of 1973 (March 1973), edited by Ray Robinson, p. 92


  • When you think of natural ballplayers, only two come into mind, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.


  • Mantle played ball almost under a shroud of depression, because he always thought he was going to die an early death. But Mays probably thinks he's going to live forever. Mantle acted like a man who was doomed. Mays never did, even though he played long beyond his ability. I talked to Willie after the 1973 World Series, in which he looked terrible. I said, "What were you doing out there, Willie?" "Oh, I was having fun!" he told me. Mantle never had fun. Mays, on the other hand, seemed to be inoculated from all the pressure. He simply went beyond the usual frames of reference. If I were writing this, I'd say that he went beyond the usual frames of reverence. That's the way we all felt, and I think it was true for not only the press, but also for managers and other players. And this bled into the other pages of the newspaper.


  • One day I saw the combative Giants shortstop Billy Jurges confront umpire George Magerkurth, on a call Jurges violently objected to, the two men standing jaw to jaw, raging invective at each other. A faint spray of saliva emitted from Magerkurth's mouth; Jurges stepped back and uncorked his own oyster of spittle, right in the umpire's face. Magerkurth slugged Jurges, who slugged him back, and the two men rolled on the infield grass, clawing at each other until they were pried apart. Jurges, of course, was tossed out of the game and suspended for a spell, his place at shortstop taken over by the mild-mannered prematurely gray utility infielder, Lou Chiozza. The very next day, Chiozza ran out to short left field, chasing a pop fly, while in rushed Joe Moore, from his left field post. The result was a noisy collision, which sent Chiozza to the hospital, marking the first and only time one player's spittle had broken another player's leg.
    • From his Foreword to The Early Polo Grounds (2009) by Chris Epting


  • Nor was my attendance at the Polo Grounds limited to baseball games. I sat in the lower left field stands to watch the championship professional football game between the undefeated Chicago Bears led by Bronc Nagurski and the New York Giants. Because the field was so icy slick—the temperature dipped to four degrees above zero that Sunday afternoon—the Giants' owner Wellington Mara had a minion at halftime break into Manhattan College's gymnasium and steal the school's basketball sneakers. Clad in sneakers and suddenly able to keep from sliding all over the joint, the Giants turned a 13-3 deficit into a 30-13 victory. All this despite an advisory to his teammates from a former Chicago linebacker named George Halas, "Step on their toes! Step on their toes!"
    • From his Foreword to The Early Polo Grounds


  • He always threw to the right base. We say that about most outfielders. Ruth always threw to the right base. DiMaggio always threw to the right base. The others maybe did, maybe didn’t. Mays most of the time threw to the right base, but Ruth always threw to the right base.


  • So we went to see Babe Ruth pitch the last game of the 1933 season. The Senators had already clinched the pennant, the Giants had clinched in the other league, so this was just a nothing game. I thought maybe he’d make an appearance, pitch an inning or two or three – he pitched a complete game. He hadn’t pitched a complete game since 1930, and then he pitched a complete game. And before that he had pitched two four-inning stints for the Yankees, so he pitched four times. So he pitched a complete game, he gave up twelve hits, it was not a great pitching performance, but the Yankees won, 7-5. He didn’t strike out a soul. Years later I saw him on Broadway. I went up to him and said, “Hi, Babe.” He said, “Hi, kid.” That’s the way he treated everybody. I said, “You know, I saw you pitch your last game at the Stadium.” This was maybe eight years later or so. I said, “How come you didn’t strike out anybody?” And he said, “I wanted those other eight guys to earn their money!” And that was Ruth.


  • Sometimes in his last years they’d take him out after maybe seven innings and put in Sammy Byrd or some other right fielder for defensive purposes because he was getting pretty out of shape. And we kids, we knew better, we knew the rule, but we’d yell “We want the Babe! We want the Babe!” from the seventh inning until the ninth inning. Once in a while he’d come out of the dugout and he’d lift up his cap or do something like that. We knew he couldn’t come back into the lineup, but that didn’t stop us. That’s the way we were. We loved him, and he loved us, which was very nice. A great combination. I’d see him in his great polo coat on Broadway sometimes, with his jaunty cap, and his wife and daughter walking along. He was just wonderful.


Other Topics[edit]

Chronological, by original publication date.

  • She snorted. My wife has three ways of showing disapproval. She harangues loud and long when she is not very sure of her position. Or she may be entirely silent when she is terribly sure. This is usually an act of kindness on her part, as though she were dealing with a dumb animal. Or, lastly, she may snort. This means, I have at last learned, that she disagrees, that she thinks I am a dumb animal, and by God, kindness can go just so far.
    • On his wife's reaction to the notion (of showing up at the ball park without a ticket, for Game 1 of the World Series, and expecting to get in) that gave rise to this, his best known book, from A Day in the Bleachers (1955), p. 1


  • All the great people and great things in life are failures. It is in doing what we cannot do but must try to do that humans rise to their exalted fulfillment. Maglie had tried to do with an old man’s arm and back what a young man might not have been able to do as well. Of such failures is greatness made.


  • He reacts to many things bitterly, this pleasant, smiling young man, who is 32 years old, married now, with two sons, a sports hero here and back home in Puerto Rico. Clemente reacts to things bitterly because he is an honest man, and a feeling one. Baseball has become a game of automatons performing in mechanical ways. Scoreboards now tell you when to cheer. The words "Go-go-go" light up, and you obediently recite, "Go-go-go." A bugle sounds, and reflexively you murmur, "Charge!" Roberto Clemente is a throwback, as are many of his Latin cohorts—which means he has his flaws. Anger can twist him almost helpless with rage. But it has also made him not only a leader of men—automatons are poor leaders—but also a spokesman for his people. He spoke out, during 1966, in an Associated Press dispatch of August 23...
    • From "Roberto Clemente: A Flame in Pittsburgh," in Baseball Stars of 1967 (April 1967), edited by Ray Robinson, p. 51


  • The huge church is burrowed into ancient mountains. By elevator you rise up through the mountain to the foot of a giant cross that soars nearly 500 feet into an intense blue sky, its arms spreading 300 feet. The four Evangelists who crouched at the base are 28 feet high, carved out of stone. All Spain comes to the Valley of the Fallen for its moment of meditation. It is a wondrous work, but it never lets you forget that it marks one of man's most ghastly works—war. But war—like all pain—is soon forgotten. New generations are born. And in Madrid you see families together, voluble, chattering, touching each other, husbands, wives, children. They smile at each other, and at you. And you smile back. For that is the true Madrid. It embraces you. It loves you. Soon, you love it back.


  • You have seen bigger horses than his thirteen and a half, perhaps fourteen hands, his nine hundred pounds. You have seen handsomer profiles than this Roman nose, slightly convex. Burrs cling to his long sweeping tail. His coat is dark and unglossed. Yet look again, while he is still, for he will not be still long. Sense the vitality in those muscles, trembling beneath the skin; see the pride in that high head, hear the haughty command to his voice. For this is a wild horse, my friend. Once he claimed the western range. Then they took his range away from him. But nothing, no one claims him. He feels the wind and the air with his nose, with his ears, with his very soul, and what he feels is good. He tosses his head, once, quickly, and behind him his harem of six mares trot up to join him, and behind them, a yearling colt, a filly and two stork-legged foals. Coats dusty and chewed, tails spiked with bits of the desert, sage and nettle and leftover pine needles from winter climbs down from timberland. The Barb-nosed stallion led his family down to the waterhole. Not Barb from barbed wire, though perhaps the chewed skin was from barbed wire, but Barb from the Spanish horses from which he descended, brought to the New World over four hundred years ago, from the Barbary states of North Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Fez, Tripoli. Indians stole them from the Spaniards; the Barbs stole themselves free from the Indians. Running wild, a few still run free.
    • From Running Wild (1973) by Hano, p. 10


  • Click. The spare camera was now focussed and working. The lead mare—Barb Nose's—saw the drop. She cut her stride and wheeled and ran along the dangerous edge. Barb Nose ran in the vanguard, protecting the rear, driving the foals ahead of him. Blaze Face had long since cut and run, taking his beaten stallion flesh off to be nursed, to wait for another day, another elder to challenge. The other mares expertly and instinctively followed the leader as she rimmed the mesa, heading for the foothills of the El Gatos. One foal, too, made the cut, on stick-like legs, frightened but blindly following. The second foal had truly been blinded by panic. He strode to the drop-off and never stopped. He was a wild horse, and he had to run, and now he would run free forever. Plunging headlong over the drop, body whirling, his legs still flailing, as he fell through the desert air and past the serrated rock walls of the mesa, he knew nothing of time. He knew nothing of the eons that had gone before him, building this mesa of bluff and sandstone and archean rock. He fell through layers of time, to timelessness, a living thing for so little time. Once a living work of art, now a broken artifact. One foal. Dead. Murdered by man. Murdered by time. The drumbeat of the earth was lessened by one horse's tiny hooves. And all of us were lessened by this new silence. Click.
    • From Running Wild, pp. 14-15


  • "It was not always so," he said slowly. "When I was a boy—stealing horses was not a crime. It was the way of a brave man, a warrior. Horses then served the purposes of the tribe." He could tell them more, but what he could tell them would perhaps disgust them, confuse them. He had told them enough. Tomacito could have told how Indian tribes rode horses, and when the horses grew old and useless, or when the tribe grew desperate for hunger or for shelter, they drank their horses' blood, stripped their hides for teepees, ate the flesh. Cruel, yes, but necessary. They bought horses, traded for horses, and if they had to—and often they had to—they stole horses. The Spaniards came, and then the white man, and they had horses, and the Indians had none, in the beginning. The white man and the Spaniard, on horses, chased the Indian from his own land. The Indians, on foot, were easy to chase, to hunt down, and kill. With horses, the Indians could stand and fight and die, or run and hide and live a little longer. It was an unfair fight from the start, even with horses, but without horses, it wasn't a fight at all. It was a massacre.
    • From Running Wild, p. 105


  • Nobody ever wrote so well so fast as Jim. One year he wrote, and we published, nine novels. It was an obsession. Back in 1941, his father had been in an asylum in Oklahoma City, begging Jim to get him out. Jim needed money to get him out, so he said to his father, "Give me a month, and I'll raise the money." His father brightened, because Jim never went back on his word. Jim took a bus to New York City and went door to door to the publishing houses, asking for money for a hotel room, a rented typewriter and meals so he could write a novel. Finally, at Modern Age, they took a chance, and in 10 days he wrote a novel. But things being what they are in publishing, it was a month plus one day before Jim got his advance. The same day, a telegram arrived. His father had committed suicide, ripping the excelsior out of his mattress and stuffing it down his throat. When Jim would drink he would sometimes cry and say, "Why couldn't he have waited another day? Didn't he trust me?"
    • From "Jim Thompson, 1906 - 1977," in The Los Angeles Times (May 1, 1977), p. X3


  • Jim was a big sheepdog of a man, 6-feet-4, 250 pounds, softhearted, soft-spoken. I never heard him use a dirty word; I never heard him tell a salacious story. Yet his novels are full of such words and stories; he seemed to have a need to dig deeply into the dark depraved nature of man. Nobody did it better. But then, anything he did, he did better. Two years ago, crippled by strokes, he appeared in a film, "Farewell, My Lovely," playing the cuckolded judge. When his wife in the film, played by Charlotte Rampling, carries on with Robert Mitchum in front of him, there is a look on his face that is part bewilderment, part despair and all forgiveness. He was that way, turning up the dark corners of the soul with love and forgiveness.
    • From "Jim Thompson, 1906 - 1977"


  • Jim Thompson. Dead 14 years next month. The Academy Awards are upon us, and as I write this, I do not know what's been nominated for what. But I have a hunch this is the year of Thompson. I believe somebody famous will stand there to thank God and Swifty Lazar, if you can tell the difference, and then with a stifled sob, add a special thanks to Jim Thompson. And people will stand and cheer his name. I only hope Alberta is right, and that Jimmy hears the applause. But I doubt it. Jim Thompson stories seldom have happy endings.


  • Alfie was an organizer. He would telephone the other kids a week before that first practice session (which he euphemistically called spring training), and he would knock on their doors the morning of, and they would look out the windows and say, "Hey, it's snowing," and he would say, "It's not snowing all that hard. See you in a half-hour." So we would gather our tired, cold bodies together, throw on our baseball clothes—old shirts, old pants, sneakers, old baseball gloves—and grab a couple of bats and scuffed-up balls, and we would pile onto the subway and ride to Van Cortland Park. We would run to make sure we'd be first to claim a ball field. Of course we were first. Nobody else was that crazy. My brother would direct practice for a couple of hours, batting practice, catching fungoes, fielding, practicing our curves and drops on the sidelines, fingers aching from contact with batted or thrown baseballs. We threw ourselves across that hard bone of a field so we would be ready when the spring suns finally thawed the ground at our feet. If the still-awake dreams of hunting lions in Africa were the peak moments of my night life, those frozen ball fields of February were the highlights of my days.
    • Recalling his late brother, from "Life with Alfie," in Orange Coast Magazine (November 1990), pp. 233–234


  • Jim Dilley, the father of the Laguna Greenbelt, used to take roses to the secretaries of the county Board of Supervisors when he'd go to do battle over open space with the secretaries' bosses. Jim Dilley was a nice man, kind and gentle. He smoked a pipe. His eyes twinkled as though he knew a joke the rest of us didn't. But he's dead, and the Board is still alive, and that is a joke on us of monstrous proportions. I'm not nice, kind or gentle. The Board keeps rubber-stamping building permits, and this is my goodbye to these shores. After 36 years, my wife and I will soon leave Orange County for Costa Rica, to join the Peace Corps, and that, too, is a joke. We traipse off to bring peace to Costa Rica, which hasn't had an army since 1948.


  • Is there a solution? Probably not. Yet there is a glimmer of hope, and on my last days here, I offer it to you, gratis. Incorporate every township and village in the county. Take them out of the county's jurisdiction. Give the county supervisors nothing to do. They do it so well; why deprive them?

Quotes about Hano[edit]


This book is about the bleachers, the people on the wooden benches and the ball players beyond. It is about a time and a team and a ball park that are gone. It is the first, and perhaps the best, of all the books written from the point of view of the man in the stands and I am glad to see it get a second chance.

Roger Kahn
from his foreword to
A Day in the Bleachers
(November 1981)

Alphabetical, by author/speaker.

  • On Sept. 29, 1954, some 52,751 people jammed into the Polo Grounds to see the first game of that series. One of them was a highly articulate Giant fan named Arnold Hano. "A Day in the Bleachers" tells the story of his own thoughts and experiences at the Polo Grounds, and of the game that day, which will long be remembered in baseball history and folk lore. He writes simply, clearly and amusingly of his adventures there. He has an eye for baseball detail, and also an ear for the dialogue of the fans. He believes that Giant fans, like himself, are unique. He claims that "a Yankee fan is a complacent old fat cat" who knows nothing about baseball. Dodger fans, while not ignorant "are a surly lot, riddled by secret fears and inferiority complexes." Be that as it may, and even though Mr. Hano is not without his own baseball prejudices, he is a unique fan. He has written a pleasing and attractive book, recreating an almost legendary day in the history of baseball. He describes the practice before the game, gives vignettes of other bleacher denizens, and writes us a dramatic account of the game itself—and, though we know its outcome, our interest is held here as it might be in a novel. Bob Feller doing acrobats [sic] in the outfield before the game, Sal Maglie taking the long walk to the clubhouse, Willie Mays' miraculous catch of Wertz's drive—all this is neatly woven into the book. The book charmingly recreates the experience of seeing an important ball game. It will make good reading for baseball fans, especially for unique Giant fans who (with their team still behind the Dodgers) can only wait for last year.
    • James T. Farrell, from "Pastime Denizen: A Day in the Bleachers" in The New York Times (August 7, 1955), p. BR7


  • When this book first appeared in the enchanted island of the 1950s, I was struck both by Arnold Hano's writing style and his daring. The writing is what amateurs call effortless. Reading A Day in the Bleachers, you concentrate on the day, the game, the ball players, the fans, without much awareness of a man at a typewriter grunting and straining through the non-anesthetized labor that precedes the birth of a book. The scene and Mr. Hano's comments simply flow. Everyone who has written seriously knows that sustaining a flowing style is about as effortless as cleaning the Augean stables with a water pistol. [...] This book is about the bleachers, the people on the wooden benches and the ball players beyond. It is about a time and a team and a ball park that are gone. It is the first, and perhaps the best, of all the books written from the point of view of the man in the stands and I am glad to see it get a second chance.
    • Roger Kahn, writing in November 1981, from his Introduction to the 1982 edition of A Day in the Bleachers (specifically, its 1st paragraph and final 3 sentences)


  • The success of The Killer Inside Me and Thompson's good relationship with Arnold Hano unleashed in the writer a creative fury. In the following two years he wrote a dozen novels. These included the autobiographical Bad Boy and the deliriously self-revealing The Alcoholics, as well as such twisted crime classics as A Hell of a Woman and Savage Night, both dark, disorienting suspense stories. Hano's discerning, open-minded editorship allowed Thompson to experiment, to take these tales into strange, innovative territory.


External links[edit]

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