The On-Deck Circle


Wolfe Quotes

In The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction, Wolfe writes: 'I've even committed a baseball story myself, "The On-Deck Circle".'

From the Postscripts story introduction:
"I got the idea for this story on the deck of a cruise ship, Holland America's MS Zuiderdam," says Gene Wolfe. "There is nothing like relaxing on a deck chair and staring out at the sea to spark ideas. In my imagination, other ships moved through the twilight, and there was the spiral flare of fireworks. You know the rest."


In the future Scooter Scarlatta, an old ball-player, is challenged to get a home run -- in a game of baseball played on cruise ships.


  • Baseball players wait for their turn at bat in an "on-deck circle." This one is literally on deck.
  • The name of the "expert" is Jack Keech, which sounds like Jack Ketch, an old name for a hangman.
  • The game is rigged for better TV ratings. Lisa Locklin is cast only for her appearance. Scooter is told what the pitches will be ahead of time.
  • What is the state of the environment? The dirty-yellow "fog" sounds like smog. And has global warming left so little dry land that people have taken to living on boats?
  • Scooter's reckless play costs his life, but he is welcomed into heaven (or baseball Valhalla?) by Ernie Banks and Pee Wee Reese, both real Hall-Of-Famers.

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