This book was quite a change from my last one and I was undecided about whether to include it in my ‘100 books’ as it most definitely a non-fiction book rather than a novel. But, I am 25 books behind on the challenge, with no chance of making it to the end, so I guess it doesn’t harm to include it.
The book was a guide to all things baseball, including some of the basic terms (like single, double, walk-off etc), along with a great big chunk of baseball history. That’s something that I’ve never really looked into before, so I found it all very interesting. Of course, any baseball fan has heard of Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the ‘color-barrier’, but I was very interested to learn more of the history behind it and to learn more about the negro-leagues. In fact, I found it so interesting that I’ve added a few books to my Amazon wishlist in the hopes that I may get them for Christmas.
A large percentage of the book was the statistics behind the game. For example, when describing each of the more basic baseball terms, we find out about the career and individual season records for each of those things. Rather than just feeling like a list of statistics, they were integrated so well into the rest of the book that it flowed seamlessly from fact to story.
The book also contained a lot of personal opinion from the author, although he does let you know that this will be the case from the start. And I liked that, it made it more of an easy read than if it was just fact after fact after fact. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I whizzed through it in 3 days, and I’m very excited to learn more about the history of a sport that interests me so much.
I have a couple of favourite quotes from the book. The first one comes from Ford Frick when he was confronted with the rumour that the St Louis Cardinals would rather go on strike than play a game against Jackie Robinson, the league’s first coloured player.
“I don’t care if half the league strikes. Those who do will be suspended, and I do not care if it wrecks the NL for five years. This is the United States of America, and one citizen has as much right to play as another.”
My other favourite quote is from the author when describing an old team called the Cleveland Spiders, which he describes as:
“A solid if unspectacular team for its first decade of existence, featuring Hall of Famers Cy Young and Jesse Burkett, the Cleveland Spiders in 1899 reached a level of crappitude unmatched in baseball history.”
I really enjoyed this book, so I’m giving it a solid 5 stars. I’d highly recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more about baseball, baseball statistics and baseball history.