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Thing That Exists: A PG Wodehouse Story About Baseball

Some people are pretty surprised that Wodehouse wrote a story once about baseball.

It has often been said of this world that all one needs to survive in it is an endless supply of brandy and the collected works of PG Wodehouse. In fact, this isn’t the case at all. One would die of malnutrition, almost certainly, if confined to that particular diet — and would likely lose a taste for literature, however uproarious, at some point en route to Blackest Death. That the man who said it often did so from within the confines of a hospital for incurable pauper lunatics indicates that it probably oughtn’t be filed under wisdom proper.

If not the staple of a healthy diet, the work of PG Wodehouse is at least a font of amusement for the reader of English. And while the majority of his work involving sport typically concerns either cricket or rugger or football, the present author has this past weekend found a Wodehouse story, “One Touch of Nature” (from Wodehouse’s 1917 collection The Man with Two Left Feet) that concerns baseball, by and large.

Mr J. Wilmot Birdsey, the protagonist and a great fan of the New York Baseball Giants, has lived in London for the past five years — for which development his wife is largely to blame. The story begins with that same Birdsey walking away from Chelsea Football Grounds in a state of euphoria, however — that same facility having just served as the venue for an exhibition between Birdsey’s Giants and the Chicago White Sox.

Things go on from there. One finds that an acquaintance of Birdsey’s turns out to be a great bank robber. One also finds no fewer than three jokes about the baleful influence of wives on a gentleman’s leisure. Not the best of Wodehouse’s stories, probably. Probably about a 40 on the 20-80 scale, 20 representing Not George Washington and 80 being Psmith, Journalist. Still, one must fill up the hours somehow.

The text is available in a number of formats here, courtesy Project Gutenberg.