Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Greatest Show on Dirt

Boy has it been a long time since we’ve been able to go to a ballgame at the DBAP, much less the old DAP.

And today’s game has been postponed due to rain in Rhode Island (how’s that for alliteration?).

Here’s a modest proposal: Spend a couple of hours with James Bailey’s recently published novel, The Greatest Show on Dirt.

Mostly a coming-of-age/love story, what distinguished the book for me was its setting, the old Durham Athletic Park in the early 90’s. I like (but never loved) the DAP and I don’t understand at all the mechanics of putting on a baseball game. That made Greatest Show on Dirt something of a twofer for me, I learned something about both. And reading what it was like to actually work at the DAP was fun.

As mentioned, this is mostly a coming of age story, so don’t expect insights into the nuts and bolts of minor league baseball. That’s just the background. But it was interesting enough background to keep my attention, particularly since Bailey writes from personal experience as an employee in the early 90’s.

Currently on the shelf at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, possibly available at other bookstores in the area. Does not show up in the Wake or Durham County libraries.


  1. Chris, thanks for the plug. I really appreciate it. I think anyone who remembers games at the old DAP will enjoy the book, and possibly recognize a minor character or two.

    As of this week the book will be available at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh as well as The Regulator. Love those indie book stores.

  2. A line from THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT provided the spark for a a piece I wrote about the Bulls for Baseball Prospectus (thanks, James!). It's a pay site, but subscribers can find the piece at

  3. Adam, that was a great piece. Loved the way you worked the book into it, but it went way beyond my book. The mystique really belongs to Bull Durham, which lives large nearly 25 years later. Of course, it would be hard to set Bull Durham in the modern DBAP. Most of the romance of the movie is in the old park being so far removed from the big leagues, both by level (Class A ball) and by the state of the facilities themselves. Players either graduate from A ball or flunk out altogether, whereas guys like Ruggiano tend to linger a lot longer in Triple-A. They keep coming back, never satisfied, but not far enough from their goal to abandon pursuit.