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The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches    by Zach Hample order for
by Zach Hample
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

Zack Hample's book The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches is a rather exhaustive work that looks into all things baseball. Literally. From the evolution of the ball over time to the history of baseballs and injuries, from baseball and pop culture to how the ball is stored before games, the book gives the reader a look into everything that surrounds the ball used in America's pastime. Baseball has a long and intertwined history in the U.S. national fabric, and Hample provides a number of parallel paths in the course of the book.

The book seemed uneven from the standpoint of trying to rope in the casual reader first with injuries, death, and pop culture then following up with the history of the ball over time. While frivolity and tragedy sell, it doesn't seem to be an effective introduction to a book that should first explain the ball's changes over time. I enjoyed the background into how the balls are produced and some of the changes in how they look over time. The third part on how to snag a baseball is a must read for those who have never caught a foul ball or home run ball, but truly wish to be stung by its appearance in your hand. Hample should know about catching baseballs as he's snagged over 4,500 of them in the last twenty years.

The Baseball is a solid work, but the chronology and background to the ball should come first. Frivolity and scandal do have their place but if you're talking about the ball, a tapestry needs to be woven of the ball's background and evolution before we talk about beanings and Steve Bartman.

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