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Southpaw (Henry Wiggen #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  281 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A classic baseball story featuring lefthanded pitcher Henry Wiggens.
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Rosettabooks, LLC (first published January 1st 1953)
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(showing 1-30 of 546)
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Robert Palmer
Jun 29, 2012 Robert Palmer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Robert by: Uncle
This may not be great literature and some people may have problems with Wiggens using 1 instead of one , but he a baseball player writing with a #2 eagle pencil and for him it is harder work then pitching a 16 inning game in a long run for the flag. A careful reading of the title page may help. It is the story Henry Wiggen and his lifelong love of baseball. Growing up in Perkinsville NY where the train doesn't exactly stop ,just slows down. Henry lives and breaths baseball, he dreams of the day ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball lit fans
being a big baseball fan, i'm always on the lookout for baseball literature. it wasn't until recently that i came across 'the southpaw,' but i'm sure glad i did.

in an era where so many authors feel duty-bound to dazzle their readers with their million-dollar vocabularies, clever turns-of-phrase, and over-wrought use of simile and metaphor, and continual one-upmanship, 'the southpaw' is a literal breath of fresh air. it's a lot like 'to kill a mockingbird' in that often the deepest and most mean
After reading "Bang the Drum Slowly" I thought I would give this book a shot. It is the first book in this series where we meet the "hero" and southpaw henry wiggen.

While I liked this book for the great discription of the baseball scenes, it didn't get to the point until page 340 out of 350.

"Bang the Drum Slowly" is a superior book. I even enjoyed the movie, which is Robert DiNerno's first major role and what lead to him staring in Godfather II.
Timing is everything, and picking up a book about the boys of summer just as summer was starting was the right time. Everyone should read this book, not just baseball fans.
Mark Harris creates in Henry Wiggen a portrait of a 1950s hurler who shares in first person auto-biography style his rookie season with the New York Mammoths. Wiggen is an uneducated young man, and the prose is drafted in a style that matches the character. Often when writers attempt to do this they fail, straying between the
I 1st read this book when I was about 15-16 years old. It was about baseball. That's all I needed to know.

Since that time, I've looked for this novel several times in different libraries. Never finding it until with my most recent library. It is part of a trilogy, with the more famous Bang the Drum Slowly being the more famous part of that trilogy. And, it has the reputation of being probably the most famous baseball trilogy in existence. For all I know, it might be the only baseball trilogy.

Having picked up its more famous sequel Bang the Drum Slowly on sale, I got The Southpaw so I would know the background. Now I have no desire to read the sequel. This is supposedly serious fiction for baseball fans, though most commentary will tell you it is not about baseball at all. Perhaps not, but there is a lot of boring baseball in it (the recounting of baseball games ought not to be boring, but it is here). The non-baseball stuff is at least interesting at times but otherwise has almost n ...more
A Bildungsroman (and it's always fun to get to use that word) about an uneducated baseball pitcher. Owes sizable debts to Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye--it was published only a couple of years after the latter--and like those novels, its strength is in the quirky, vivid language of the first-person narrator. Followed shortly by two other Henry Wiggen novels, then decades later by a fourth, and I expect I'll reread the other three over the next three years. The second Wiggen novel, ...more
Jay McNair
I liked getting to know Henry Wiggen, and was sad to see him go by the end. And I liked learning all the slang, the pre-game pep talks, the play-by-plays, the camaraderie between the guys. It was really pretty good—solid characters, nice old-fashioned-y-ness.
I would say that you really have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book. It is an older book (1953) and written very cleverly with the young left-handed pitcher Henry Wiggen telling his story. Henry has only a high school education but learns a lot about life, love, and baseball during his first year as a major league baseball player with the fictional New York Mammoths. Spelling and grammar are set aside in Henry's narrative. I loved it, but there are many detailed descriptions of the nuances ...more
While in the process of reading, "Bang the Drum Slowly" I learned that this book, "The Southpaw" was the first of the two books written by Mark Harris to tell the tale of Henry Wiggins.

The Southpaw tells of his playing days as a young man (he made the major league when he was 20). It tells how his father, also a ballplayer, taught him the game and taught him how to pitch.

The book is written as a book written by Wiggins. Most is enjoyable but some paragraphs were too day and it coat a star.
M. Newman
This book, the first in the four-book series that ends with the great "Bang the Drum Slowly" is a very enjoyable piece of baseball fiction. It documents the rookie season of left-handed pitcher, Henry Wiggen and his coming of age as a baseball player and a man. It is narrated by Wiggen, the "author" of the book and is reminiscent of the writing of Ring Lardner. There are some lapses in baseball fundamentals but the overall quality of the writing makes it easy to suspend disbelief.
I'm not a sports fan, but I like a good inspirational sports movie or book now and then. I listened to THE SOUTHPAW on tape nearly 20 years ago (followed by Mark Harris's sequels BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY (made into a movie in 1973)and IT LOOKED LIKE FOREVER. It's a wonderful book told in first person narration by Henry Wiggen, a small-town baseball player who made it into the big leagues. Full of charm and humor. I loved it and would listen to it again if I can find it.
Claire S
Baseball time again! My grandfather had a great spitball, threw out his arm the night before tryouts for a major league team about 90 years ago! Perhaps that's why I tend to enjoy the sport, as do most others in my family. This book looks like a kinda sweet take on it, with enough real-world anchoring to suit me. This one and the next one (which was made into a film) would be fun to catch up on.
Bryan Jaketic
Spring is a great time of year to read a good baseball novel, and this is a classic. I was worried that it would a bit hokey, based on the time period from when it was written. But that turned out not to be the case at all - it's a very honest novel, and describes the game beautifully. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series.
Mar 14, 2008 C.E. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baseball fans
One of the best baseball books ever--the first of Harris' four stories about Henry "Author" Wiggins, left hand pitcher for the New York Mammoths. More a character study than a traditional sports books, it follows the green rookie Wiggin through a rookie season where he learns a lot about baseball and life. Beautiful written in a very simple, humble voice.
I know only a little about baseball but enjoyed this mix of baseball and post World War II America very much. It's a simple undramatic tale with very real, likeable characters as told from the Huck Finn-like perspective of a dedicated young pitcher. A pleasant, upbeat story with a generous amount of humor.
Chris Gager
I'm not at all sure I read this but the name Henry Wiggen sure rings a bell. If I did read it it must have been long ago. Date read is a guess. I just realized this: Henry Wiggen rings a bell because of the movie "Bang the Drum Slowly". Same author... Did I read this book? Only a maybe now...
Rebecca Duncan
One of the best baseball books I've read... which, OK, isn't actually saying much. I enjoyed it and it left me excited for summer. It turned a little depressing at the end, though, so I'll probably pass on the sequel although I've heard it's good if a bit more melancholy.
Joanie Gearin
Sep 05, 2008 Joanie Gearin added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I love this book (not just because I love baseball) because baseball isn't the point. Henry Wiggen, left-handed pitching phenom for the New York Mammoths, learns about life and becoming his own person in the 1950s. Bang the Drum Slowly, also by Mark Harris, excellent!!
A fun baseball novel from the 1950's, The Southpaw approaches its subject more critically than anything would until Ball Four. A tendency to get bogged down with the details of games is more than up for with great characters.
Andy Wiggins
Best baseball novel ever written. Period. Prequel to the more well known "Bang the Drum slowly". Robert De Niro starred in the movie version of this book. Also a great read.
Reread after many years. This finishes my reading/rereading of Harris's Wiggen series.

I was just reminded that Harris was a university classmate of my late mother.
Probably closer to 3.5 stars. I liked the book and the story was very good....I guess it's the writing style that I didn't enjoy as much.
i am a huge baseball fan so i thought this book was awesome. it showed how much hard work and knowing the game helps you susceed.
Best baseball novel ever written. Mark Harris, RIP.
Frank Chimkin
2nd read; 1st read in the 90s (same rating)
Steve Kluger
The best novel ever written. Period.
Feels like a baseball season.
Chris marked it as to-read
Apr 20, 2015
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Harris was born Mark Harris Finkelstein in Mount Vernon, New York, to Carlyle and Ruth (Klausner) Finkelstein. At the age of 11, he began keeping a diary, which he would maintain for every day of his life thereafter.

After graduating in 1940 from Mount Vernon High School, he dropped his surname because "it was a difficult time for kids with Jewish names to get jobs." He subsequently went to work fo
More about Mark Harris...

Other Books in the Series

Henry Wiggen (4 books)
  • Bang the Drum Slowly
  • A Ticket for a Seamstitch
  • It Looked Like For Ever
Bang the Drum Slowly It Looked Like For Ever A Ticket for a Seamstitch Doctor Who Technical Manual Henry Wiggen's Books

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