Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Play Ball: New Books for a New Baseball Season

The coming of spring means the return of baseball. It also heralds the arrival of a new batch of baseball books. Here is a selection of new titles at the San Francisco Public Library for lovers of America's pastime.

One tradition of baseball fandom and its literature is to identify the superlatives of the game. Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time is an eclectic mix of essays about these writer's often unlikely choices of favorites. High Heat is Tim Wendel's quest to settle the question of who has pitched the fastest in baseball history. He interviews many baseball greats, studies the historic record and considers the pictures of today to reach his conclusions.

Mark Kurlansky's Eastern Stars is a study of how the town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic became a hotbed of baseball talent, baseball providing a lucrative alternative to the poverty of the sugar cane fields. In Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert, Timothy Gay unearths a little known history of the early integration of baseball in off-season contests known as barnstorming. He retells head to head contests and legendary pitching match-ups between black and white teams of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow is about an aspect of the game that is often a fascinating mystery to its fans, the unwritten code of honor that players insist that they should and do follow. In Mint Condition, Dave Jamieson gives us a history of the business and hobby of collecting baseball cards. Entitled after a Yogi Berra-ism, 90% Of The Game Is Half Mental by former Village Voice sportswriter Emma Span is a collection of thoughtful and humorous essays from her time covering New York's teams.

In addition to books written for the fan, we also have many books in our collection for those who wish to play the game. One of our newest titles is Play Ball by Tom O'Connell. Written for the baseball manager or coach, O'Connell presents 100 different team drills to incorporate into practice and teach fundamentals.

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow with Michael Duca (New York : Pantheon Books, 2010).

The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de MacorĂ­s by Mark Kurlansky (Riverhead Books, 2010).

High Heat: The Secret History of The Fastball and the Improbable Search for The Fastest Pitcher Of All Time by Tim Wendel (Da Capo Press, 2010).

Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession by Dave Jamieson (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010).

90% Of The Game Is Half Mental: And Other Tales from the Edge of Baseball Fandom by Emma Span (Villard Books, 2010).

Play Ball: 100 Baseball Practice Games by Tom O'Connell (Human Kinetics, 2010).

Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball before Jackie Robinson by Timothy M. Gay (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time by Sean Manning, editor (Da Capo Press, 2010).

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