The Great American Novel is the story of the bumbling Ruppert Mundys baseball club and of the Patriot Baseball League. In a lengthy prologue, aging sportswriter Word Smith (Smitty) recalls the greatness of the league, hints at the reasons for its demise, and bemoans the attempts by Americans of all walks of life to erase the league from memory. His mission is to preserve this part of American history: The story which makes up the novel proper is his account of the league’s demise.
The main action of the novel occurs in 1943 and 1944, though numerous flashbacks provide a sense of history necessary for the reader to understand the relationship of the Patriot League to the other major leagues and to provide the rationale for much of the action which takes place during this fateful baseball season. In these flashbacks, interspersed throughout the novel, the reader learns of the tragedy of umpire Mike Masterson, whose child was kidnapped and killed; the banishment of legendary pitcher Gil Gamesh; the missionary zeal of Mundys manager Ulysses S. Fairsmith; the conversion of Tri-City Tycoons owner Angela Whitling Trust from sexual profligate to dedicated American Communist hunter.
In 1943, the Ruppert Mundys find themselves without a home ballpark; the War Department has taken over their stadium as a training camp, and they are forced to play their entire season on the road. The ballplayers who make this season-long odyssey are a collection of men too old, too young, misfit, malformed, or maladapted for life in the big leagues. As they travel from city to city losing game after game and making fools of...
(The entire section is 669 words.)