The story opens with the main character named Roy Hobbes, a baseball player, who is in the train travelling to Chicago. He is in the same car with his manager Sam, who has just negotiated Roy’s participating in the team of Chicago Cubs. The author describes the other passengers of the train car: among them are mysterious and incredibly attractive woman named Harriet Bird, one of the most prominent sportswriters in all America, Max Mercy, who is also heading to Chicago to attend the game and the greatest hitter of the present of American League, a man named Walt “The Whammer” Whambold. Suddenly the locomotive has to make a short stop out of schedule for urgent maintenance and all the passengers go outside to use this stop and have some rest. Luckily, there is a jovial carnival nearby that they attend with great pleasure. On the carnival The Whammer learns about Roy Hobbes and tries to mock and bully him, diminishing Hobbes’ skills as a player. Sam uses the situation professionally, betting Walt that Roy will strike him out at the game. This will draw attention to the player he works for.
Whambold accepts the challenge and the contest is widely announced. The crowd gathers around: the visitors of the carnival are glad to see another unexpected entertainment. The players start. With each successful pitch the stakes raise. Roy Hobbes, a dark horse and yet unknown young talent, gathers the approvement of the crew and finally strikes out The Whammer. But the third strike that brings him victory hits Sam in the chest, breaking the ribs of the manager. He dies at night, horrifying Roy. However, the one who isn’t horrified but attracted is Harriet Bird. She was very interested in Whambold before, but now her attention goes to the new winner. When he is finally in Chicago, Roy gets a phone call from her. Harriet sweetly invites him to her hotel room for a night. Roy is marvelled by such a shameless sexuality and goes to her room, thinking about the night of passion. But to his shock Harriet opens the door carrying a gun and shots Roy in stomach with the silver bullet.
The story skips fifteen years. Now Roy is long past his best years and struggles to find a team to play in. Finally he signs the contract with New York Knights, one of the weakest teams in its league. Roy’s glory is long gone, but he still keeps his signature hand-made bat named Wonderboy. It is still unknown why he was shot by Harriet and what happened to him next and there are no clues about it yet. But he still behaves like he appeared from the thin air to save the New York Knights from inevitable loss by his mere presence. It seems strange, but it is another thing we, as reader have no explanation of. The only person who is still interested in Roy is already elderly Max Mercy, the sportswriter from the train. He seems to forget about the competition between Roy and Whammer and Sam’s death, but he recognises Hobbes as the sensation of the past decade. He is very interested in return of the old pitcher, so he comes to Roy to hear his story.
From the other hand, Bump Bailey, who Roy now works with, isn’t impressed by his famous past. Roy immediately becomes his new laughingstock and the victim of his countless jokes and pranks. The emerging rivalry, surprisingly, doesn’t break up the team but energizing the New York Knights so much that they greatly improve their results during the training - thanks to Bump and Roy showing off. But as the season goes on, things get serious. Roy falls in love with Bump’s girlfriend, the girl named Memo Paris. Memo is also the nephew of the team manager named Pop Fisher. Cue the love triangle. Memo still rejects Roy, staying faithful to her boyfriend, but it means nothing for the two whose rivalry grows into the literal war. They try to best each other to the point when Bump dies, while trying to snag a fly ball and terminally injuring himself after falling to ballpark’s outfield. Now Roy is the only and unquestionable team lead player. Also he is the only candidate to go out with Memo now, but the girl, disgusted by Roy using Bump’s death to court her, keeps rejecting him.
Roy hopes to impress her with his baseball achievements. He decides to make a record hitting streak in her name to win the girl’s heart, but he soon realises that to achieve his goal he needs much more money. Roy goes to talk to the owner of the team, a man named Judge Goodwill Banner, saying that he needs a bigger salary to increase his already incredible performance. But Judge Banner puts the arrogant player back to earth, giving him a bill for the team uniform trashed during their rivalry with Bump. Ashamed and angered, Roy goes to Max Mercy and offers him to have a walk together. They decide to meet a man named Gus Sanders in a bar, but when they arrive to the meeting point, Memo is already with Gus. Trying to impress her again, Roy enters a competition with Gus. He loses a series of wagers with Gus and then performs a magic trip that finally amuses Memo, who never smiled since Bump’s death. Finally, there is hope for Roy.
Memo agrees to give him a try and go with Roy for a drive. They even share a kiss, but when the date is over, she rejects him again for unknown reason. Her uncle, Pops, later confronts Roy, telling him to stay away from Memo - but suddenly the reason isn’t the usual. Pops isn’t overly protective, actually he tries to protect Roy from Memo. After this talk the series of wins for the New York Knights suddenly ends. What makes Roy regain his composure is the sight of a mysterious woman in red, almost as attractive as was Harriet Bird. She is looking only at Roy and he wins this game for her, enchanted by her sight, smell and the feeling that she is silently communicating with him.
After the game he finds her. The name of a mysterious woman is Iris Lemon. They have a date, walk along the lake for a long time and make love that very day. Later, when Roy asks more about Lemon, he learns that she is in her mid-thirties and is a grandmother already. This repels the player and he abandons Lemon, refusing to meet her again and returning to courting Memo, who is younger and not burdened by the family. Also Memo seems to keep some kind of mystery in her past that attracts Roy.
Moreover, it seems that her present is as shady as was the past. Memo seems to hate Roy Hobbes, plotting with Gus Sands to disrupt his life completely. As a part of her plan she agrees to the date with Roy but only teases him, refusing to have sex. Roy tries to substitute his sexual hunger with his real hunger and eats everything that was on the table at dinner. When he comes to the room and decides to finally make love to Memo, he takes down his pants and suddenly feels an unbearable acute pain in his stomach again, like fifteen years ago. Roy loses consciousness.
He comes back to his senses in the hospital. Memo visits him and seem overly sweet, but gives him no idea about what happened. Then the Judge comes and offers Roy a deal - to deliberately lose the game. Roy keeps declining, feeling that his honor is offended, but when the Judge says that without this money Memo will most certainly marry someone wealthier, Roy finally agrees. Memo seems to be glad to hear the news and congratulates Roy with the right choice. When they both go away, Roy opens a letter he received from Iris before. She tries to tell him more about herself, trying to return him with this act of trust, but when Roy reads to the point of her being a grandmother, he becomes disgusted again and throws the letter away without finishing it.
When the final game starts, Roy deliberately strikes out again and again. One of the spectators, a short and nervous man named Otto Zipp start to mock Roy for it and enraged player targets his balls to his side. Lemon, who also came to watch the game is unlucky enough to sit too close to the field. The fourth ball meant to end his taunts hits her, when the woman stands up to encourage Roy. Lemon collapses, right like Sam years before. Roy, forgetting about the game, runs to her, but Iris’ face is smashed horribly. She gathers her strength and begs Roy to win the game for her and their baby.
Roy suddenly understands that Iris is pregnant and he will become a father soon. He feels the hope and joy he never felt before in all his life. Roy decides to break the agreement and win the game for her and in the name of his future baby. But his next pitch is foul again. Moreover, his bat, the Wonderboy, that is a symbol of his skill for Roy, is broken. Now he feels that whole his life depends on the last pitch. Roy strikes out the last time, losing the pennant and losing something very important that he has just found in himself.
After the game Roy comes to the team headquarters to take his money from the Judge. While he is there, he sees Memo and Gus together. Enraged and shocked, Roy throws out all his bribe and rushes to Gus, knocking him out from the first hit. Suddenly Memo takes out a gun and chases Roy, screaming that she hates him for killing her beloved Bump. Risking his life, Roy carefully disarms her and goes away. Now he sees how many wrong deeds were in his life and any hope he had before towards Memo, Iris, his future or anything else is gone in the depth of self-loathing. Roy slowly goes down the stairs, descending from the top floor of the high tower, where Judge met him. With every step he remembers every wrong decision and bad thing he did in his life. Roy understands finally: he repeated his mistakes over and over again and never learned from them. This is the main reason of his ultimate failure.
Finally on the street, Roy meets Max Mercy who announces that now he knows everything about the past of Roy Hobbes, formerly famous baseball player. He also knows everything about his present including being bribed for losing the game. And now he is going to write the full truth about him for everyone else to know. Roy collapses to the pavement tears going down his cheeks.