The Comic Book Story of Baseball: The Heroes, Hustlers, and History-Making Swings (and Misses) of America’s National Pastime

Alex Irvine, Tomm Coker, and C.P. Smith. Ten Speed, $18.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-399-57894-6
This splendid scrapbook of the history of baseball bulges with sports lore. Beginning with the real origins of the game, found in bat and ball variants played by Puritan settlers hundreds of years before Abner Doubleday supposedly invented it in 1839, Irvine tours through the odd personalities and special moments in this “sport of myths” through to the 21st century. Here, arranged chronologically, are snapshots of significant players, from William Arthur “Candy” Cummings, who invented the curveball in 1867, to David Ortiz, whose eligibility for the Hall of Fame was debated after he retired in 2016 as a mere designated hitter. Along with the stars on the playing field, the book highlights notable managers, owners, even umpires—and odd commentary, such as Virginia Woolf’s observation that Ring Larder’s baseball stories reveal that American’s fascination with the game provides a central cultural meeting space. Other sections delve into political context, such as the color line that kept African-Americans out of the major leagues and the reserve clause that kept players in servitude to owners. With dense text boxes and vivid color art, pages feature player portraits, maps and timelines, and historical narratives, all rendered in traditional comics art. This is an affectionate, accessible, and informative volume on how Americans play the nation’s favorite game. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 05/08/2018
Genre: Comics
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