One would think, perhaps, with the many thousands of books written about baseball over the decades, there would be little to add in the way of novelty or insight regarding the greatest game ever devised by man. But behind the history, the rivalries, and the legends of the game is the often-overlooked object that makes it all possible in the first place: the baseball.
Zack Hample, a well-known ball hawk who has snagged nearly 4,700 baseballs at major-league stadiums around the country since his first in 1990, is obviously an ardent lover of all things related to the game, and his passion is evident throughout The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches. The book is divided into three parts: the first two chronicle "the cultural and historical awesomeness of baseballs" and the third offers how-to tips and advice on procuring balls at major-league games. Hample includes chapters on the souvenir craze, the baseball in pop culture, and those unfortunate few actually killed by baseballs.
In one early chapter, The Baseball provides a nearly year-by-year account of the intriguing and often controversial evolution of the baseball, and if there is one constant to be gleaned from its history, it's that claims of adulterated or "juiced" balls have persisted practically since the game began. Later, Hample recounts his trip to the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica, as well as the exacting standards employed during the ball's manufacturing. For many, the 70-some instructional pages on how to catch, find, chase, and be thrown baseballs at major-league games will be the most exciting (and relevant) part of the book.
Hample writes well enough, and his enthusiasm and humor make for an entertaining read. The Baseball is sure to captivate even those with but a mild interest in the national pastime. For more devoted fans, however, something rejuvenating awaits within this book's pages, something that may well have you daydreaming about the unforgettable experience of a summer afternoon at the ballpark — and the singular thrill of a home run or foul ball arcing its way toward your seat. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
When Major League Baseball first expanded in 1961 with the addition of the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators, it started a trend that saw the number of franchises almost double, from sixteen to thirty, while baseball attendance grew by 44 percent. The story behind this staggering growth, told for the first time in Baseballand#8217;s New Frontier
, is full of twists and unexpected turns, intrigue, and, in some instances, treachery. From the desertion of New York by the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants to the ever-present threat of antitrust legislation, from the backroom deals and the political posturing to the impact of the upstart Continental League, the book takes readers behind the scenes and into baseballand#8217;s decision-making process.
Fran Zimniuch gives a lively team-by-team chronicle of how the franchises were awarded, how existing teams protected their players, and what the new teamsand#8217; winning (or losing) strategies were. With its account of great players, notable characters, and the changing fortunes of teams over the years, the book supplies a vital chapter in the history of Major League Baseball.and#160;
"[Baseball's New Frontier] serves its purpose well. . . . From the Angels having just eight days (!) to stock their team, to the Mets and Astros getting a siginificantly less talented and promising pool from which to draw, to the huge franchise fees collected from the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays in 1998, viewing those waves in one narrative gives an interesting refection of each era and just how much that side of the game has changed, and how expansion both caused and reflected."and#8212;Jerry Milani, Going 9 Baseball
and#8220;The expansion of baseballand#8212;with a wrong turn here and thereand#8212;raised the prosperity and popularity of the industry to record heights, and Fran Zimniuch captures it all in this comprehensive book. Can Tokyo, Havana, or Mexico City be next?and#8221;and#8212;Ross Newhan, recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000
and#8220;The expansion of baseball has been a barometer of the sportand#8217;s cultural impact. Fran Zimniuch provides his readers with an understanding of the circumstances affecting baseballand#8217;s growth. He relates how the gameand#8217;s expansion impacted its popularity and influence. Once this dispersal was accepted, baseball evolved into a truly national sport.and#8221;and#8212;Jerrold Casway, baseball historian and author of Ed Delahanty in the Emerald Age of Baseball
and#8220;Fran Zimniuch is a wonderful baseball historian. This account of the expansion of Major League Baseball over the years will be of interest to all baseball fans.and#8221;and#8212;Mike Schmidt, Hall of Fame third baseman who hit 548 home runs during his eighteen-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies
andquot;The University of Nebraska Press has produced this book most attractively, a fitting tribute to the genuine joy baseball fans will find in savoring the stories of Philadelphia's Top 50 Baseball Players. Read this fine book with pleasureandmdash;and happy memories!andquot;andmdash;Dr. McKim, Baseball Almanac
"If you love Philadelphia baseball . . . this volume will give you enjoyment. . . . You are likely to learn a little something whenever you pick it up."and#8212;Larry Eichel, Philly.com
andquot;Any baseball fan would love this book. Let the debating begin.andquot;andmdash;Town Talk newspapers
and#8220;This compilation of Philadelphia baseball legends takes me back to my childhood with idols like Schmidt, Carlton, and Bowa. Even my fatherand#8217;s teammatesand#8212;Bunning, Allen, and Taylorand#8212;and some of the gameand#8217;s greats reminiscent of Roberts and Whitey and Ennis. It also includes our current stars like Rollins, Utley, and Howard. It is a great grouping of athletes that traverses time and eras here in Philly. An enjoyable read for all fans, especially those looking for a trip down memory lane.and#8221;and#8212;Ruben Amaro Jr., senior vice president and general manager of the Phillies
and#8220;Philadelphia has always been a great baseball city that has produced its share of stars. When the time came to discuss and debate the fifty top players produced here, the areaand#8217;s best baseball historian and writer, Rich Westcott, does not disappoint. His latest work will induce fun baseball conversation about those who made the list and those who missed it.and#8221;and#8212;Chris Wheeler, longtime broadcaster for the Phillies
and#8220;Rich Westcottand#8217;s latest historic survey of Philadelphia baseball provides an in-depth look at the greatest players with links to our talent-rich area. It brings to life names like Chief Bender, Chuck Klein, and Jimmie Foxx and reminds us why modern-day players like Mike Schmidt, Mike Piazza, and Dick Allen were such incredible stars.and#8221;and#8212;Bob Brookover, baseball columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer
The holy grail, the fountain of youth, the golden fleece, and the baseball: rarely do objects inspire such madness. The Baseball
is a salute to the ball, filled with insider trivia, anecdotes, and generations of ball-induced insanity.
Which Hall of Famer once caught a ball dropped from an airplane?
Why do balls get stamped with invisible ink?
What’s the best ticket to buy for catching a foul ball?
Which part of the ball once came from dog food companies?
How could a 10,000-year-old glacier help a pitcher grip the ball?
In this enlightening, entertaining, and often wildly funny book, Zack Hample shares ballpark legends and lore, details the evolution of the ball, and offers up his secret methods for snagging your own from major league games.
Philadelphiaand#8217;s Top Fifty Baseball Players takes a look at the greatest players in Philadelphia baseball history from the earliest days in 1830 through the Negro Leagues and into the modern era. Their ranks include batting champions, home run kings, Most Valuable Players, Cy Young Award winners, and Hall of Famersand#8212;from Ed Delahanty, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Roy Campanella, Mike Schmidt, and Ryan Howard to Negro League stars Judy Johnson and Biz Mackey and other Philadelphia standouts such as Richie Ashburn, Dick Allen, Chuck Klein, Eddie Collins, and Reggie Jackson. For each player the book highlights memorable incidents and accomplishments and, above all, his place in Philadelphiaand#8217;s rich baseball tradition.
About the Author
Rich Westcott is the author of twenty-two other books, many of which are about Philadelphia sports, including The Phillies Encyclopedia, Philadelphiaand#8217;s Old Ballparks, Tales from the Phillies Dugout, and A Century of Philadelphia Sports. He is a past president of the Philadelphia Sports Writersand#8217; Association and is a member of three Halls of Fame.and#160;Dallas Green managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1980 World Series championship.