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The Physics of Baseball (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060084363
ISBN-10: 0060084367
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Adair is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Physics at Yale University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His research has largely been concerned with the properties of the elementary particles and forces of the universe.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 3 edition (May 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060084367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060084363
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By on October 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Excellent treatment of the variables that affect the flight of a thrown or batted ball. Reveals facts that explain why the ball does, or doesn't do what people think it does. For example, most players, coaches and spectators are not aware that a fastball decelerates on its' flight from the pitcher to the catcher at a rate of about one mile per hour for every seven feet of travel. Thus the ball speed, as it reaches the batter, 60 feet six inches away, is about 8-9 MPH slower than the speed when it leaves the pitcher's hand. The Professor also explains the dynamics of the curve ball; and why a ball hit at Coor's Field travels farther than those hit at most other ballparks. His theories are interesting, enlightening, and provocative. I strongly recommend the book to any baseball fan who wants to understand why a thrown or batted ball does what it does.
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Format: Paperback
When I was a teenager, I did a science fair project looking at statistical analyses of baseball games to help understand how one could improve the strategy of the game from a general manager's perspective. In The 2,000 Percent Solution, I wrote about the potential levels of perfection for a baseball team. So I have long been hooked on what measurement could add to my understanding of baseball. What a pleasant surprise it was when I discovered this fine book that used measurements and analyses to go even further!
Whenever I listen to former Big Leaguers talk about baseball on television, I get lost by half of what they say. While I can see fast balls falling on the way to the plate, the broadcasters are describing a "rising" fast ball. Suddenly, the ball moves strangely, and they refer knowledgeably to the pitcher throwing a "splitter." Then a knuckle ball pitcher comes in, and the catcher can't seem to ever control the ball because there is little spin. Why is that happening? What's going on here?
If you have ever wondered about questions like these, The Physics of Baseball will fill you in and actually give you the ability to amaze others with your precise explanations why the unexpected is either perceived to be happening or is actually happening.
When I was a teenager, baseball games usually lasted about 2 hours. Now, they are much longer. This book gives you a way to take advantage of that, by giving you more interesting things to talk about during the prolonged games.
The author also takes on the many controversies of recent years, such as corked bats, scuffed balls, and extra pine tar on the bat.
Read more ›
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Dunhill on March 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ever wondered why a curve ball curves? Why major leaguers stretching for third often take a wide turn between first and second? Why bats seem to break much more often than they used to? This wonderful book contains the answers. Written by a Yale physicist, it contains well-documented but sometimes densely worded explanations of why and how a baseball, a bat and even the players behave as they do. Any serious fan of baseball will finish this book with an enhanced appreciation for the game. Not to mention the ability to speak intelligently about how grip and mechanics differ between pitchers throwing curves and sliders. The author has wisely chosen to address the questions posed most frequently by baseball lovers who aspire to higher knowledge. His only failure is his heavy reliance on technical academic language and somewhat mysterious graphs. It makes for a very enlightening but slow read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Before my wife and I married, she had to pass the "basketball" test by sitting through a University of Illinois game in a crowded bar and at least feigning interest. The first nights of our honeymoon were taken up with the World Series (luckily for her, the winning team swept the series). I thus consider myself a sports fan (I am obviously a reader). Accordingly, I was delighted to receive for a recent birthday Robert K. Adair's The Physics of Baseball. The book itself, however, did not quite meet expectations. I encountered two key problems. First, Adair writes in the dry, passive-voice-laden prose of the scientist lacking a good editor. Second, much of the scientific analysis was simply beyond me. What I enjoyed -- and found useful -- were the qualitative discriptions of the game: how and why curveballs curve; how far a batted ball can be hit; the differences between metal and wood bats. While I could not follow each step of his scientific description, the general, non-technical account which he also gave was clear and persuasive. From henceforth, I will watch the game somewhat differently.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ohmysohopeless on August 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author does a very good job of explaining the basic physics behind national pastime for those who are willing to understand and do a bit of their homework (you just need to be able to read figures and graphs). The various aspects of the game such as the flight of baseball, breaking balls, batting the ball, and the effect of the properties of bats are discussed concisely, without being bogged down into the details of physics. Since the book is targeted for the mass audience (though not including casual baseball fans), readers who studied physics and math at high school or first-year college level should find it very manageable to read and understand. The use of equations is kept at minimum (the author does not use much of mathematical argument anyway), so mathematically challenged readers can also enjoy and extract the most important part of discussions fully. It somewhat reads like a textbook, and will turn away those who have no fond memories in school. The otherwise fine book has its own place in the library of baseball books, since it is the only book in its class for over a decade. This is a very unique baseball book.
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