Barbara Gregorich's Reviews > Called Out: A novel of base ball and America in 1908

Called Out by Floyd Sullivan
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bookshelves: historical-fiction

Called Out is a fictionalized examination of the year 1908 in the world of baseball, dealing primarily with the story of National League President Harry Pulliam, the three-way pennant race between the Giants, the Pirates, and the Cubs, and the Merkle incident. The main conflict gleams like a double-edged sword. If Pulliam is successful in his campaign to make umpires and teams adhere to the rules as listed and explained in the baseball rules book, he will make baseball a cleaner, more honorable game in which each participant is required to follow through with his responsibilities. But if Pulliam proceeds with this campaign, baseball magnates such as John Brush, owner of the Giants, will publicly expose him as an “invert” — a gay man. The title alludes to the dual nature of the conflict. If Merkle is called out for failing to touch base, then Pulliam will be outed as a gay man, in a century in which such an outing meant commercial, social, and even physical death.

Even though I knew the results of the Merkle incident before I began to read the book, I knew very little about Harry Pulliam. I enjoyed learning more about both him, his secretary, Lenore Caylor, and the various team owners. I particularly enjoyed the author’s descriptions of bugs — baseball fanatics. Sullivan does an excellent job of capturing the slang of the times and depicting the violence the bugs inflicted on opposing players. And what made me laugh with delight was each and every time a character in the book complained about the Chicago Cubs always winning the World Series.

A lot of very interesting baseball-history information in packed into this book, but when this exposition is relayed in dialogue, it sounds forced: as if the characters are speaking to each other mainly to convey information to the reader.

Despite this caveat, I cared about the characters in the story, and I cared about their personal outcomes as well as the outcomes for major league baseball. Called Out is a a book I’m glad I read, and I recommend it to others as an enjoyable way to learn about an important part of baseball history — and the more important issue of how to people should behave toward one another.
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Reading Progress

May 30, 2017 – Started Reading
May 30, 2017 – Shelved
May 30, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
May 30, 2017 – Finished Reading

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