The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant
The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant is a 1954 novel by Douglass Wallop
Douglass Wallop
John Douglass Wallop III was an American novelist and playwright.-Early life:John Douglass Wallop III was born on March 8, 1920 to John Douglass, Jr., an insurance agent, and Marjorie Wallop ....

. It adapts the Faust
Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical...

 theme to the world of American baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 in the 1950s.

Plot summary

The novel's protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

, mild-mannered, middle-aged Joe Boyd, is depicted as a lifelong fan of the hapless Washington Senators. As the novel begins, the Senators are losing ground in the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 to their longtime nemesis, the New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...


The discouraged Boyd runs into an unexpected offer from a fast-talking confidence man, who introduces himself as "Mr. Applegate." "Applegate" offers to transform Joe Boyd into Joe Hardy, a young baseball superstar
A superstar is a widely acclaimed celebrity.Superstar or superstars may also refer to:-People:* Warhol Superstar, associates of Andy Warhol* WWE Superstar, the term used to refer to entertainers from the WWE...

, and facilitate his signing with the Senators' front office so that Hardy can help salvage the Senators' lost season. Boyd, suspicious, negotiates with "Applegate" and extracts a promise that the transformation will only be temporary and, after helping the Senators win a suitable number of games, Hardy will be able to re-transfer himself back to his Joe Boyd personality.

The transformation takes place, Hardy joins the Senators, and all begins to develop as "Applegate" had predicted. However, the new baseball superstar begins to realize that his deal with "Applegate" may not be so temporary and he may have let himself in for more than he had expected to get. As Hardy's doubts grow over his predicament, "Applegate" presents Hardy with love interest Lola, depicted as a glamorous temptress in the style of the 1950s.


The novel was adapted into the 1955 musical Damn Yankees
Damn Yankees
Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League...

. The musical's book was written by George Abbott
George Abbott
George Francis Abbott was an American theater producer and director, playwright, screenwriter, and film director and producer whose career spanned more than nine decades.-Early years:...

 and Douglass Wallop
Douglass Wallop
John Douglass Wallop III was an American novelist and playwright.-Early life:John Douglass Wallop III was born on March 8, 1920 to John Douglass, Jr., an insurance agent, and Marjorie Wallop ....

; its music and lyrics were written by Richard Adler
Richard Adler
Richard Adler is an American lyricist, composer and producer of several Broadway shows.-Biography:Born in New York City, Adler had a musical upbringing, his father being a concert pianist. After serving in the Navy he began his career as a lyricist, teaming up with Jerry Ross in 1950...

 and Jerry Ross
Jerry Ross (composer)
Jerry Ross was an American lyricist and composer whose works with Richard Adler for the musical theater include The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, winners of Tony Awards in 1955 and 1956 respectively in both the "Best Musical" and "Best Composer and Lyricist" categories.-Biography:Ross was born...

. The musical starred Stephen Douglass
Stephen Douglass
Stephen Douglass is an American actor-singer.Born Stephen Fitch in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Douglass has had a distinguished theatrical career and has appeared occasionally on television. He was the last performer to play Billy Bigelow in the original Broadway production of Carousel and he created the...

 as Joe Hardy and Gwen Verdon
Gwen Verdon
Gwenyth Evelyn “Gwen” Verdon was an actress and dancer who won four Tony awards for her musical comedy performances. With flaming red hair and an endearing quaver in her voice, Verdon was a critically acclaimed dancer on Broadway in the 1950s and 1960s...

 as Lola.

The 1958 film adaptation
Damn Yankees (film)
Damn Yankees is a 1958 musical film made by Warner Bros., a modern version of the Faust story involving the New York Yankees and Washington Senators baseball teams. The film is based on the 1955 Broadway musical of the same name....

 featured Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter is an American actor, singer, former teen idol and author who has starred in over forty major films.-Background:...

 as Joe. Hunter was the sole actor who had not been in the stage play.


Anthony Boucher
Anthony Boucher
Anthony Boucher was an American science fiction editor and author of mystery novels and short stories. He was particularly influential as an editor. Between 1942 and 1947 he acted as reviewer of mostly mystery fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle...

dismissed the novel as "just another Pact-with-the-Devil story, somewhat brightened by its Major League baseball setting."
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