The Warsaw Sparks


The Warsaw Sparks

A Memoir

Gary Gildner
Introduction by Albert E. Stone
With a new postscript by the author

264 pages
8 illustrations


September 2008


$18.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 1987 noted poet and author Gary Gildner went to Poland on a Fulbright scholarship to teach at the University of Warsaw. One January day, a Warsaw sportswriter came knocking on Gildner’s classroom door with a problem and a request. The professional baseball team he had organized the year before could not win; would the professor—who he had heard was a baseball player—come help?

Told with gripping lyric simplicity, The Warsaw Sparks is about an American’s experience coaching a baseball team in Poland and about hope and memory and the education of a poet. Prepare to meet an unlikely cast of characters, including Stan Musial, Lech Walesa, Dariusz the Organizer, and such Sparks as Froggy, Pizza Hut, the Cubans, and little Jerzy Bin the catcher: “Call me George, Coach. Like George Herman Babe Ruth.”

Author Bio

Gary Gildner is an award-winning poet and novelist whose works include My Grandfather's Book, Blue Like the Heavens, and The Bunker in the Parsley Fields, which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. He has also received the National Magazine Award for Fiction, Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams and Theodore Roethke poetry prizes, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Albert E. Stone is the author of several books, including Literary Aftershocks: American Writers, Readers, and the Bomb.


“A fresh and fascinating memoir . . . a story charged with human interest, clean prose, and original perspectives. . . . Mr. Gildner's book is a heavy hitter.”—New York Times Book Review

“Gildner’s memoir offers plenty for baseball buffs; it presents a gallery of colorful characters, Polish and American, and it provides fascinating insight into life under a decaying communist regime.”—Detroit Free Press

“[A] funny, sad, and bittersweet account of coaching Polish baseball players who were ‘trying to catch up on something they didn’t even know they missed.’”—USA Today

“A splendid book, weaving the progress of the Sparks’ 1988 season with Gildner's observations on Polish life, his reminiscences of his family's Polish heritage, his thoughts on how baseball can grip those who do not grow up playing the game, and, yes, even some poetry.”—The Sporting News

Table of Contents

Introduction by Albert E. Stone
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

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