Inspired by the author's career as a sportswriter for the Washington Post, Squeeze Play tells the story of female reporter A. B. Berkowitz, who is assigned to cover the men of the Washington Senators -- the worst team in major league baseball. Life in the locker room shows her not just the players'...um...assets but also their all-too-human frailties. Love for the game and love for the newspaper business are the stars in this hilarious and heartbreaking novel that "will have you singing a rousing chorus of 'Take Me Out to the Locker Room'"(People).
Leavy's hilarious debut about a female sportswriter's tribulations covering an expansion baseball team's first year is a strong early candidate for MVP of the 1990 sports novel season. A. B. (Ariadne Bloom) Berkowitz's troubles begin with a fundamental crisis ("alone with a locker room full of naked men I did not know") and get rapidly worse. The team, the Washington Senators, is horrible, and while its corrupt televangelist owner soon forbids the players to talk to A.B., they continue to attempt to gross her out at every opportunity. Her editor demands headlines, no matter at whose cost, her boyfriend finds solace in the arms of a young copy aide, and her best source on the team--an aging All-Star catcher--is becoming romantically interested. As raunchy as stories by Dan Jenkins and Peter Gent, as authentic as exposes by Jim Bouton and Jim Brosnin, this tale by a former sportswriter for the Washington Post will delight readers willing to accept a healthy dose of vulgarity with their humor, especially those who know and love the rhythms and complexities of the national pastime.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 14, 2003
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Excerpt from Squeeze Play by Jane Leavy
April 3 You see a lot of penises in my line of work: short ones, stubby ones, hard ones, soft ones. Circumcised and uncircumcised; laid-back and athletic. Professionally speaking, they have a lot in common, which is to say they are all attached to guys, most of whom are naked while I am not, thus forming the odd dynamic of our relationship. They are athletes who believe in the inalienable right to scratch their balls anytime they want. I am a sportswriter. My job is to tell you the score.
Generally I try not to look at their penises, which is why I always carry at least two felt-tip pens and a steno pad. This way I can take notes without staring at the glans of some poor son of a bitch who has just been demoted to Triple A. But the fact is: penises have a way of intruding upon your field of vision, especially if you are five foot one, which I am. One time I was hiding behind my steno pad talking to Tyrone Jackson, the basketball player, when my notebook began to quiver. After that, the line on Tyrone was he really gets off on being interviewed.
So I pretty much thought I had seen it all, until today.
My name is A.B. Berkowitz and I have been a sportswriter at the Washington Tribune for nine months now. The initials stand for Ariadne Bloom, which is why everyone except Mom calls me A.B. and why the Washington Senators were a bit surprised the first time I showed up in their locker room. Usually when people find out what I do for a living, they want to know one thing: who has the biggest schlong in America? You'd be surprised how many different ways there are to ask this question. Dolly Mitchell, the wife of the publisher, showed up at the Christmas party at Duke's, ate forty shrimp balls, blushed,and said in that Betty Boop voice of hers, "So tell me, A.B., honey, just between us girls, who is the most impressive ath-uh-lete you've ever met?"
Sal practically hurdled the raw bar to get me before I could say anything. They didn't make him sports editor for nothing.
Two weeks later, he called me into his office and said, "You got the Senators beat. Don't say a fucking word to Mrs. Mitchell."
Today I got the answer to her question.
The answer, Mrs. Mitchell, is the Stick.
It was three hours before game time and everyone was working the room: reporters, agents, assorted hangers-on, everyone who ever made the A list in Washington or thought they should have. The clubhouse was strictly SRO. Opening Day is always a zoo. But everybody in town wanted to be able to say they were there the day baseball returned to Washington. I talked to five senators (elected); three congressmen; Duke Zeibert, the restaurant guy; Lynda Carter, who used to be Wonder Woman; and Dick Bosman, who started the last game at RFK eighteen years ago and learned belatedly the aerodynamic impact of tears on a major league fastball.
Bosman gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings that night, including three home runs, all of which he chalked up to tears. Still, the Senators were winning, 7-5, with two outs in the top of the ninth when the last crowd to see major league baseball in Washington raged onto the field and refused to let the game end. Jim Honochick, the umpire, declared a forfeit at 10:11 P.M., and with that Washington surrendered its right to be called a major league city.
Then last year the Reverend Jimy Boy Collins cut a deal to throw his considerable religioso support in the direction of a particular right-wing presidential candidate, the quid being a promise of an expansion franchise should said candidate get elected. The candidate is now President of These United States, as Jimy Boy likes to say, and the Reverend Collins is owner of the Washington Senators. He calls his born-again Nats a divine reincarnation.