The Rookie by Eliot Asinof, 1953
The magic trick:
Bringing an internal monologue to a standard sports situation
Take it from a sportswriter – sometimes postgame quotes just aren’t enough to make an interesting story. It’s rare that you find an athlete who can twist words at a moment’s notice around into pithy one-liners that sum up the game.
Fortunately, Eliot Asinof had the distinct journalistic advantage of writing here about a game that never actually happened. We’re able to go through the last two at-bats of a game inside the head of 35-year-old rookie, Mike Kutner. The drama that goes on within his head as he contemplates the entirety of his career is far more interesting than what one game could offer, particularly as a basic newspaper story. And that’s quite a trick on Asinof’s part.
At last… after sixteen grueling, sweltering summers in squalid, southern towns. At last… after sixteen years, the whole span of a ball-player’s life. For a moment, he reveled in the thrill that beat against his insides and almost made him weep. At last… he was a Major Leaguer.