THE NEW FACE OF BASEBALL: The One-Hundred-Year Rise & Triumph of Latinos in America's Favorite Sport

Tim Wendel, Author , foreword by Bob Costas. HarperCollins $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-053631-2

Wendel's story of the Latino experience in baseball is a faithful and functional roundup of player mini-bios and factoids. With a foreword by Costas, the book's got the black-and-white down, but one wishes for more color: Wendel, a founder of USA Today Baseball Weekly, gets his subjects' on-field accomplishments, but could have dug deeper to explore their experiences as people, not mere athletes. Such episodes as Pirate Roberto Clemente's insistence that people call him by his given name and not "Bob," as on his baseball card, and his speaking Spanish during a national television interview following the Pirates' World Series win in 1971 are inspired glimpses into the player's psyche and excellent examples of the strides Latinos have made in the game over the last century. However, while the 1998 home-run duel between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire is an intriguing swatch of baseball lore, the reader only partially gets a sense of where the Dominican-reared Sosa's unique enthusiasm for the game comes from. Similarly, an excerpt about miscreant slugger Jose Canseco reveals little more than even a casual baseball fan would have read in the tabloids. At times, Wendel is guilty of suspending objectivity in praising his subjects: in detailing the infamous incident of superstar second baseman Roberto Alomar spitting in an umpire's face, the ballplayer becomes the victim, and fans who still remember "the unfortunate situation" are seen as the transgressors. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/28/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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