- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (December 8, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0517182653
- ISBN-13: 978-0517182659
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,243,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sports Illustrated: Baseball Hardcover – December 8, 1997
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If you've ever stood in the batter's box and put good wood on the ball, snapping a liner on a rope to left, or thrilled at the crack of the bat as your favorite player did, you know that baseball is a great game. A beautiful and timeless game that is as unique to American culture as the throaty rumble of a V8 on the open road or the seductive rhythms of late-night jazz. Since its inception in 1954, Sports Illustrated has understood baseball's special place in American society and has captured the grandeur and shame, the joy and despair of each magical season in the four decades since. Printed here is a collection of selected articles, essays, and biographies lifted from the weekly magazine, written by such diverse talents as Frank Deford, Robert Frost, George Plimpton, Steve Wulf, Roy Blount, Jr., and Robert Creamer, to name but a few. Each piece reveals another thread in the tapestry of the sport, sharing how baseball matters to the individual or to the nation as a collective whole. In 1956, William Saroyan wrote, "Well is it a game? Is that all it is? So the Dodgers win... So the Yanks... So what? What good does that do a nation? What good does that do the world? A little good. Quite a little. And there's always next year." That's the beauty of baseball, the eternal optimism of knowing that even down by five with two outs in the bottom of the ninth there's still a fighting chance. The stories in this book capture the hope and heartbreak of America's beautiful game and relate the shared experiences of players and fans in the unique words of some of its most celebrated writers. --George Laney
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Just over a year ago, I was browsing around on Amazon.com, checking out one of their bargain book deals.
God, some of the things people write books about. Let's see, cookbooks, how to wire teeth, how to jump-start your car with a pencil. Ah, here we are. Sports.
One of these so-called "bargain books" was "Sports Illustrated Baseball: Four decades of Sports Illustrated's finest writing on America's Favorite Pastime." Yeah, long title, I know, but if you can find this book anywhere, it's well worth the search, not to mention the [money], plus [money] for shipping or whatever it was I paid for it.
In hindsight, I may have paid 50 clams for this book, given its humor, intensity and raw truth offered by some of the best sports writers in the business.
Mark Mulvoy, SI's managing editor, prefaces the collection with an introduction of his own, asking, "Why does baseball inspire such wonderful writing? Red Smith had a very simple answer to that question. `Today's game,' he once wrote, `is always different from yesterday's game.'"
The articles are as different as one game to the next, and read more like stories, vignettes grouped into chapters titled Spring, Summer, Fall, Players, Management, Milestones, They Also Serve and The Game.
The oldest piece in the book was originally penned in the August 23, 1954 edition of SI. No single era's tales are less fascinating than another's, but the evolution of the tale is quite intriguing.
The authors range from Peter Gammons to George Plimpton to Frank Deford. This collection is filled with jewels of varying length and subject matter. Rick Reilly's "An American Classic" allows us to catch a glimpse of a Texas teen phenom and his life off the baseball field, while, at the same time, he's chasing a national prep record for consecutive wins.
"Yogi," by Roy Blount, Jr., takes us inside one of the game's sharpest minds and offers a hilarious dichotomy of Yogi Berra's quotes and sayings of the world's famous Hindu Yogis:
"The time is now and now is the time." - Yogi Bhajan
"You mean right now?" - Yogi Berra when someone asked him what time it was.
But perhaps the most engaging and awe-inspiring tale is Steve Rushin's "A Series to Savor," chronicling the 1991 World Series. Atlanta versus Minnesota. A seven game series. Rushin writes, "There were five one-run duels, four of them won on the game's final play, three extended to extra innings."
In the piece, we get an inside look at the series that reduced grown men to tears, ill health and rashes and caused them to feel and act like young boys on the sandlot.
We need stories like this to recall when Atlanta began their remarkable run in the 1990s, with their otherworldly pitching staff, which still has not let up today.
We need stories like this to remember how extraordinary players like Kirby Puckett were, taken from the game far too soon because of glaucoma. This 5-foot-8 piece of granite practically made a living by bringing potential home runs to centerfield back to the playing field, and his play in the 1991 Fall Classic alone may justify his place in Cooperstown.
Bookending Mulvoy's intro wonderfully is novelist William Soroyan's reflection on the game: baseball's innate ability to keep the viewer in his seat.
In Soroyan's words, "From the first pitch to the last out, the caring continues. With a score of 6-0, two outs, two strikes, nobody on, only an average batter at bat, it is still possible, and sometimes necessary, to believe something can happen - for the simple reason that is has happened before, and very probably will happen again."
So, go ahead, storm your local bookstore, hit the websites `til they crash, demand your right to have this collection. Because with more labor problems looming ominously on the horizon after this year's World Series, books like this treasure may be all we, as baseball fan, have for a while.
Sean Murphy is the Sports Writer for the Oroville Mercury-Register...