Zack Hample

Overview of "The Baseball"

Overview of The Baseball


It's hard to describe The Baseball.

In simple terms, it's a book about baseballs -- yes, actual baseballs -- that'll tell you stuff about the sport that you never would've imagined.

For starters, do you know how the very first baseballs were made in the early 1840s? Ballmakers would take a small/hard object (like a rock, walnut, or bullet), wrap string around it (from an old fishing line or an unraveled sock), and cover it with strips of leather cut from worn out shoes. Back in the day, baseballs were so precious that fans weren't allowed to keep them, and if a ball went missing, the game was delayed while the players went looking for it.

But hang on. This book is much more than just a history lesson. It covers everything related to baseballs. There's a chapter, for example, called "Death by Baseball" that talks about players and fans (and a few unlucky birds) who've been struck and killed by balls. There's another chapter called "Foul Balls in Pop Culture" that critiques various movies and TV shows with foul ball scenes -- Sex and the CitySesame StreetSeinfeldI Love Lucy, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, to name a few. In the chapter called "Foul Ball Lore," you'll read about a foul ball that nailed an airplane during World War II, and in the chapter called "Stunts," you'll learn about some wacky things that have been done with baseballs. Several years ago, the guys from Mythbusters conducted an experiment to determine, once and for all, whether it's possible to knock the cover off a ball. (It's not.) In the 1980s, Pakistani drug dealers attempted to smuggle heroin into the country by hiding it inside the cores of baseballs. (They failed.) There's a whole section about players who've tried to catch balls dropped out of airplanes and off the tops of very tall buildings. Bob Uecker once tried to catch fly balls in a tuba, and a bunch of astronauts have thrown ceremonial first pitches from outer space.

You know that every game-used ball gets rubbed with special mud in order to reduce the slickness and glare, right? But do you know who's actually responsible for doing all that rubbing? Or how long it takes? Or what the actual rubbing technique is? Or where the mud comes from? Or how much gets used? Or how much it costs? Or that there've been some mud-related controversies over the years? There's a chapter that covers all of this stuff too. You'll also find a chapter that provides an incredibly detailed glimpse inside the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica, along with some original, never-seen-before photos. The book is filled with photos as well as funny footnotes and statistics and diagrams and lesser-known trivia and Top Ten lists.

The final third of the book is called "How to Snag Major League Baseballs." Read it and you'll snag lots of baseballs, guaranteed. If you don't care about ballhawking, it'll still be fun to read because it's conversational and anecdotal. The whole book is fun, even the "Acknowledgments" section at the very end, so make sure to check that out as well.

Click here to see what other baseball fans have said about the book, click here to read some official reviews by the media, and click here to order it from Amazon.