Why Is the Foul Pole Fair?: Or, Answers to the Baseball Questions Your Dad Hoped You Wouldn't Ask

Vince Staten, Author Simon & Schuster $19.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7432-3384-2
The teamwork of a well-turned double play; the long arc of a deep fly ball; the sheer power, speed and grace of the all-star center fielder: these are a few of our favorite things about baseball. But as any genuine fan knows, there's more to America's Pastime than what happens on the field. Exploring the world of baseball on all its levels, Staten (whose last volume of amusing Americana was Do Bald Men Get Half-Price Haircuts?) steeps his pages in history, trivia, tradition and, of course, statistics--and not just earned run averages and slugging percentages, but hardcore baseball-geek stuff, from how many bats a player goes through in a season, to how many rest rooms a stadium needs, to how many hot dogs are consumed at the average major league game. When he's not talking numbers, Staten holds forth on such topics as the evolution of the uniform, the upkeep of outfield grass, the waning popularity of Cracker Jack and the derivation of""bleachers"" and other terms, while also lobbing a few mild digs at ballparks named for corporations, long ticket lines and artificial turf. They're not all equally compelling subjects, but thanks to Staten's witty and appealingly conversational style, even the drier dissertations--like his short history of turnstiles--become interesting reading. Such facts, figures and anecdotes will sail right over non-fans' heads like a high, hard Roger Clemens fastball, of course, but true fans will hang on every word. Illustrations throughout.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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