Waiting for Teddy Williams by Howard Frank Mosher

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Waiting for Teddy Williams

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Waiting for Teddy Williams, the Boston Red Sox beat the Yankees to take their division, then go on to win the World Series from the New York Mets. Howard Frank Mosher’s book begins on the eighth birthday of Ethan “E.A.” Allen in the fictional village of Kingdom Common, Vermont. The hamlet bears replicas of its cursed team: Fenway’s Green Monster atop the local baseball factory, the summer Vox of the Sox as it caresses addicts’ ears from the porch of the Commoner Hotel and from every farmer’s pickup. Mosher ushers in E.A., a baseball prodigy “with all the tools” except for the two he wants most—knowledge of who his father is and playing-time with his beloved Red Sox. Ethan will achieve both—and then some.

Raised by his mother Gypsy Lee, a country-singing hooker, and his grandmother, a profane gadfly who has never left her wheelchair since Bucky Dent’s pop fly over the Monster won for the 1978 Yankees the tie-breaker that sent them into the World Series, E.A. is a loner in the bat factory assembly line until an aficionado named Teddy Williams (no relation) comes to town, and E.A. has the mentor he craves and the Red Sox have the savior they need.

With only one hundred pages to go, baseball myth-maker Mosher flashes forward nine years. Having just enabled E.A.’s father to stand and be recognized—and an appropriately implausible revelation it is—the author presents E.A. as a putative clone of Bob Feller—an eighteen-year-old hotshot pitcher who will win big and save the franchise.

Mosher has been compared to Mark Twain. But his humor is never gallows. As a fantasist of baseball, he lies between Ring Lardner, who saw only comedy in the game, and the former commissioner Bart Giamatti who saw only heartbreak. He was, of course, a Red Sox fan.