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Change Up: An Oral History of 8 Key Events That Shaped Baseball Hardcover – March 4, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Just when you think you know it all, along comes Change Up, brilliantly hitting all the high points of baseball's last half-century.” ―Rob Neyer, ESPN columnist and author of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders

Change Up is a great idea well executed, just like its namesake pitch. Any fan of baseball, from the casual to the most rabid, will be entertained and informed by its many voices.” ―Tom Verducci, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

“Serious fans of the game will find this one of the most eye-opening and fascinating baseball books of the year.” ―Booklist

“Talking baseball has rarely been so enlightening.” ―Sports Illustrated

About the Author

Larry Burke is a senior editor at Sports Illustrated. He is the author of four books, including The Baseball Chronicles: A Decade-by-Decade History of the All-American Pastime. He lives in Connecticut.

Peter Thomas Fornatale is an author and writer whose work has appeared in many places, including ESPN.com and the New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to ESPN.com, and has contributed to baseball books by Bill James and Rob Neyer. He lives in Austin, Texas.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594861897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594861895
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,102,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Can a premise spoil a book?

Perhaps, when the premise isn't quite executed.

That's the initial reaction to "Change Up," which tries to present an oral history to some of the big events in baseball history over the last 50 years or so.

That's not a bad idea, but it's not quite the book that's presented here.

Authors Larry Burke, Peter Thomas Fornatale and Jim Baker picked out eight items for examination here, including Latino influence, the players' union, the designated hitter, the arrival of Asian players. No problem so far.

But the other events come into question -- expansion (in the form of looking at the season of the 1962 New York Mets), the book "Ball Four," the first African American manager, and Cal Ripken's streak.

Those four subjects have their charm, particularly the Mets' beginnings -- which was selected as representative of the entire expansion era. (You could argue that the Mets' experience wasn't representative of anything, but that the move into new markets did wonders for the game's national popularity eventually.) In terms of effect on the game, though, the other three probably rank behind such areas as the run of new stadiums starting with Camden Yards, the strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series, and the boom in offense/steroid era.

Let's get past that point, then, and try to see what we do have. Some of the chapters work pretty well. The stories on the beginnings of the union are quite interesting, and contain some new information about that transitional period. Those looking for an introduction to the subject can find answers here. The Latino story has some good first-hand accounts of the problems that population had in breaking into the majors.
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Format: Hardcover
With Spring Training starting, thoughts turn to the National Pastime. I recently read Change Up. Generally it is excellent. The format of interviews with key people was quite engaging and through the first 6 changes. It was truly engaging. The last 2, Cal Ripken's Streak and Ichiro Comes to America, were disappointing. On the Streak, there was too much build up about Cal Sr and Cal Jr's rise to the big leagues. The Ripken's are baseball royalty because of the same core values shared by father and son. Each took those to the park every day and gave to the game they loved. The interviews did not fully capture the essence and meaning of the streak well. On Ichiro, and I am an Mariners and Ichiro fan, it overlooks a lot about that amazing season and that Ichiro was the right player at the right time. The Mariners had lost superstars Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in the previous season respectively. The team was solid but needed a catalyst. 116 wins tied a major league record and they blew away the AL that season. They had 7 All-Stars. There was little mention of the contention around the Rookie of the Year or even the MVP vote in spite of his batting title that season. Personally, I will remember the amazing defense, the 10 seasons of 200+ hits and hordes of Japanese fans filling Safeco in right field's "Area 51″ near my season's tickets.

Change Up is solid ground rule double, just shy of a home run.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Baseball today is a different game than it was 50 years ago. And, even though it has changed drastically in some ways, we have a tendency to forget the impact the changes have had.

Authors Larry Burke and Peter Thomas Fornatale compile an interesting oral history of eight key events that shaped modern baseball. The selected events are:

The Latino Wave
The 1962 Mets (expansion)
Ball Four
Birth of the Players Union
The Designated Hitter
The First African American Manager
Cal Ripken's Streak
Ichiro Comes to America

Some could argue whether or not these are the eight most important changes, but none of them can be readily dismissed.

Even if you have lived through the changes (as I have), you will find the chapters informative, insightful and interesting. The authors interview a good mix of players, executives and sportswriters. Change Up is a book all baseball fans should read.
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