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Book Review: Baseball Miscellany

April 27, 2011

I’ve often been quick to admit that I’m not a big reader. Yet, over the past year that I have been writing this blog it has occurred to me just how incorrect such a statement truly is. Between the major news outlets such as ESPN and MLB.com and the countless fellow bloggers I follow on a daily basis (seriously, you should see sometimes how many tabs I have open in my browsers) there is no shortage of reading material around me at any given time. So, when I was approached a few weeks ago via email about receiving some new baseball books in exchange for a review on the blog I jumped at the chance.

The first one I’ve finished is Baseball Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Baseball by Matthew Silverman.

The book’s inside cover tells succinctly just what the reader is in for:

Baseball history goes back as far as you are willing to chase it. Bat and ball games can be traced to ancient Egypt and 18th Century England – and to a cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York, for those who like their baseball tales told tall. But no matter where or when the very first version of baseball was played, every game since has been both utterly different and remarkably the same, uniting fans and making it one of the most beloved pastimes in history.

In Baseball Miscellany, readers will find fascinating and unexpected answers to twenty-seven miscellaneous questions – the same number as there are out required for a nine-inning win – about their favorite game.

The book is split into 27 chapters, each posing a question not commonly known by most, central to how the game works, and just flat out interesting to an obsessed fan such as myself. Just look over some of these questions that are answered:

  • How does a curveball curve?
  • When did umpires start using hand signals?
  • Why is Fenway Park’s Green Monster so tall?
  • What is a Met? (and the origin of all team nicknames)
  • Why do pitchers throw overhand in baseball and underhand in softball?
  • The names for baseman, outfielders, pitcher, and catcher make sense – by why “shortstop”?
  • Why is the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York?
  • Who wrote “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”? (And who’s responsible for it being sung during the seventh inning stretch at each game.)

Throughout Silverman’s book he tackles each question while providing the reader with numerous insights, thoughtful anecdotes, and the definitions to some of baseball’s simplest terminology that often isn’t known by the casual fan. Ever wonder what a backdoor slider is? Why is a blooper called a blooper? Did you know hot dogs have been sold at ballpark concession stands for over 100 years? What’s a “can of corn”? What’s a “golden sombrero”? And much, much more.

Baseball Miscellany is a great read, and an easy one too as I blew through the book’s pages in less than two hours. The book can be purchased at multiple outlets, or head on over to friend of the blog, The Hall of Very Good, for more on their take on the book and a chance to win a free copy.

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