Home Book Reviews Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend and Castro’s Curveball

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend and Castro’s Curveball

by Joe Gray

With 2430 games played each regular season and up to 41 in the postseason, it is almost inevitable that baseball will throw up “stories that you couldn’t script” each year. This is part of the reason I fell in love with the sport, and also why I didn’t then immediately feel the need to seek out baseball-themed creative writing. It was not until relatively recently that I finally gave baseball fiction a go.

Did I make a wise decision? Does a baseball-playing bear hit in the woods?

Castro’s Curveball by Tim Wendel

(Bison Books, 2006) 292 pages.

I don’t want to spoil the plot at all, but, now that you’ve seen the title, I think it is safe for me to describe this as a story featuring a famous Cuban political figure and at least one off-speed pitch.

Why Castro? Well, as Tim Wendel explains in a note before the opening pages of his novel, there’s little doubt that the revolutionary figure was a promising pitcher in his youth, and the flames of rumours that he was offered a contract to play baseball professionally in the United States have never been extinguished. What Wendel does is use the novel as a medium for speculation on just what Castro’s involvement with the game could have been on the island of Cuba.

To the average non-baseball-loving reader, and here I am just speculating of course, this book would probably be enjoyable, but far from mind-blowingly brilliant. However, as someone with an appreciation of how hard it is to describe events on a diamond (real or fictitious) when your channel is merely pen and paper (or black pixels and white pixels), I have great respect for Wendel’s work. Weaved into a story that contains the expected elements of love and political intrigue are good chunks of baseball action, all of them of the highest quality.

The book won’t make you an expert on political revolution and it’s not going to teach you how to throw a 12-6 breaking pitch, but if you are after something a little different this is well worth considering.

The publisher of Castro’s Curveball, Bison Books, is an imprint of the University of Nebraska press and has a catalogue containing an impressive set of baseball-themed non-fiction, including Baseball’s Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus, a book I intend to review at a later date.

An upcoming related release 

When I was hunting around for baseball books I came across an upcoming title that might appeal to fans of Cuban baseball. The book is called The Quality of Home Runs: The Passion, Politics, and Language of Cuban Baseball, it’s authored by Thomas Carter, and Amazon currently has it down for a UK release in December.


Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend edited by Elinor Nauen

(Faber and Faber, 1995) 295 pages.

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend is an anthology of baseball-themed fiction, poems, and essays written by women. With 75 entries by 65 women, there is a great variety of styles crammed into the 295 pages of my paperback copy. The book has the perfect format for dipping in and out of, although the consistently high quality of the contributions saw me from the front cover to the back in under 24 hours.

Have you read “Castro’s Curveball”,”Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, or any other baseball-themed creative writing? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Can you recommend any other similar books? If so, let us know.

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