Dan Barry, Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game

The $5,000 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing honors a nonfiction book about sports. Eligible titles should be of a biographical, investigative, historical, or analytical nature and of the strongest literary character.

The inaugural PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing honored A Terrible Splendor by Marshall Jon Fisher. The judges were Robert Lipsyte, Tim O’Brien, and Susan Orlean.

2012 Judges

Marshall Jon Fisher, Rob Fleder, and Mark Mulvoy

From the Judges’ Citation

“In Bottom of the 33rd, Dan Barry brings his formidable literary and reportorial powers to bear on a rich and resonant slice of baseball history ― the longest professional game ever played. In this lyrical, meticulously researched account, Barry gives us baseball in all its glory, both sacred and profane, animating not just an historic game but the remarkable cast of characters whose lives converged one frigid night in Rhode Island, where an insignificant minor-league contest was transformed into the stuff of legend. This story of a struggle to endure and prevail ― in this freakish, epic game, but also in the Darwinian world of minor-league baseball ― is modern mythology, and Barry brings it to life with passion and humor and heart. Bottom of the 33rd is a dazzling demonstration of the magic of sports and of great storytelling.”


John Casey, Room for Improvement: Notes on a Dozen Lifelong Sports

“Casey’s linked series of essays about a lifetime of experience in various individual sports is a beautiful rumination on the importance of sport, fitness, and nature in our lives.”

Kostya Kennedy, 56: Joe Dimaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports

“Kennedy examines the many aspects of a hitting streak that’s widely considered the most unassailable record in baseball (if not in all of sports), artfully shifting the focus from DiMaggio and his achievement to the historic and sociological context in which it unspooled. “

Rob Ruck, Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game

“With superb research, waste-no-words writing, and a clear historical perspective, Ruck presents a compelling reassessment of the influences, struggles, and conflicts of baseball’s Negro, Mexican, and Caribbean leagues and players in the era leading up to and beyond Jackie Robinson’s ascension to the major leagues.”

Past Winners

Marshall Jon Fisher and George Dohrmann