The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. The Plot

Robert Coover

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., creates an alternate reality that echoes and comments on the human condition. Using the game of baseball as symbolic of human life in general, especially life’s spiritual and sexual urgings, The Universal Baseball Association, as the novel is most often known, is a humorous, profound, and often moving work.

The plot is simple. J. Henry Waugh, an accountant with the firm of Dunklemann, Zuber and Zifferblatt, has created a baseball game in which events are determined by the rolls of three dice and a series of tables indicating specific events, as well as by Waugh’s own considerable imagination. Having established a league with eight teams, Waugh plays season after season on his kitchen table. As the novel opens, he is deep into the fifty-sixth season. Not entirely coincidentally, fifty-six is his age.

Damon Rutherford, pitcher son of a famous pitcher of the UBA, accomplishes that rarest of baseball feats, a perfect game, in which the opposing team has no runners reach first base. It is a mystical event in Henry’s life, and he celebrates by making actual contact with another human being by picking up Hettie Irden, the “B-girl” from the local bar, and making wild, passionate love with her.

Henry is late for work the next day, but he does not care. He even leaves early after being lectured by his boss, Horace Zifferblatt. His only interest is in...

(The entire section is 468 words.)