Interesting that Ted Williams, possessor of the best batting average of the '40s and '50s, would pen the foreword to an exegesis by Gwynn, who has sported the best average since. Both Williams and Gwynn have their roots around San Diego, both have shelves of batting crowns, and both have been articulate, dogged students, and advocates of, their demanding craft. Interesting, too, that Williams would title his own acknowledged classic on the subject, The Science of Hitting
, while Gwynn, who's relied less on power and more on cunning, and admits to having studied Williams like a graduate student preparing for orals, would focus more on the art
. Interesting, too, the conversation that takes place between them here on what to do with the inside pitch; art and science don't easily agree.
Part memoir (when Gwynn got his first big-league hit against the Phillies in 1982, Pete Rose, playing first that night, congratulated him and then counseled, "Just don't try to catch me in one night") and part sound, conversationally proffered advice, Gwynn's liberally illustrated Art mirrors his persona: thoughtful, personable, and approachable. He breaks hitting down into its essential components--grip, stance, swing, and follow-through--but also builds on them intellectually and psychologically in his constant search for an edge. His analyses of pitchers--Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan among them--invite you into the chess match of the hitter-hurler confrontation. But it's his admission that he's "gladly taken less money to be where I'm happy"--with the Padres--rather than just take the money, change uniforms, and run, that may be his best hitting tip of all: a mind free of angst and greed can better concentrate on cut fastballs and dipping sliders. --Jeff Silverman
From Library Journal
Gwynn, a member of the San Diego Padres baseball team and the holder of multiple batting titles, is one of the finest hitters today. Though he proclaims hitting to be more of an art than a science, he diligently reviews his every at-bat to use his talent to its optimum. In this regard, he follows in the footsteps of the game's greatest scientific hitter, Ted Williams, who contributes the book's foreword. Gwynn's book may, in fact, be worthy of Williams's own classic, The Science of Hitting (LJ 6/1/71). Readers who want to learn more about what makes Gwynn tick will find the answers here, as his book is autobiographical as well as instructional. He is a family man who somehow remains modest and true to his roots. His hitting tips, accompanied by photos, are easy to follow, even as he tries to simplify the incomparably difficult process of hitting. With its large photos, readable type, and clear layout, this beautifully produced book would be useful to both the casual fan and the young slugger looking for guidance. Highly recommended for most libraries.?Paul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL
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