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Southpaw (Henry Wiggen #1)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  383 Ratings  ·  32 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Robert Palmer
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew of Mark Harris, through the 70's movie Bang the Drum Slowly. The movie is based on the second book this series. The Southpaw the first of 4, is written as a memoir of a rookie phenom pitcher named Henry Wiggen and his first season as a pitcher, following his life from the bush leagues to the World Series. It was written in the 50's but thankfully it did not have any of the 'hero worship, and cliche' that many sports books from that era have. It is a credible story, and could have been wri ...more
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Daniel Gotkowitz
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Gotkowitz
Ms. Cole
English 2, Period 2
8 January 2015
The Southpaw by Mark Harris: Review
We all know a superb baseball book is an excellent way to spend a Sunday night, right? Well, this book, The Southpaw, by Mark Harris is definitely worth every second you will sacrifice to read it. The Southpaw is a thrilling adventure through the protagonist, Henry Wiggen, who aspires to be a great baseball player. Through long days of hard work at the gas station to finding just a few extra hours to toss
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

May 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, audiobook
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.
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-fiction
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.
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, baseball
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.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Bryan Jaketic
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
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...
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book. Great baseball writing that combines nuances and numbers of baseball as well as the increasing maturity and knowledge of our young main character. Definitely looking forward to the 2nd book in the Henry Wiggen series, Bang the Drum Slowly.
Rebecca Duncan
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aaron Lozano
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful read, glad I finally got around to reading one of my Dad's favorites. Harris clearly has baseball knowledge which is the only way baseball fiction works. A must read for fans of baseball novels.
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.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Steve Kluger
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best novel ever written. Period.
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best baseball novel ever written. Mark Harris, RIP.
Frank Chimkin
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2nd read; 1st read in the 90s (same rating)
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dave Moyer
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Bang the Drum Slowly is the all-time classic, Harris's stories are all solid.
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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
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  • It Looked Like For Ever

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“It is not a matter of me marrying either you or a gas pumper. It is a matter of marrying a man. I do not much care what he does, so long as he is a man. You are 21,” she said, “and under the law you are a man, and your height and weight is that of a man. In the bed you are a man,” and she smiled a little. “But you are losing your manhood faster then hell. Pretty soon in bed will be the only place you are a man. But that is not manhood. Dogs and bulls and tomcats do the same. Yes, you are losing your manhood and becoming simply an island in the empire of Moors.” 0 likes
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