Playing the Field: Why Defense is the Most Fascinating Art in Major League Baseball

Jim Kaplan, Author, Dick Howser, Introduction by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $12.95 (167p) ISBN 978-0-912697-36-9
This book addresses an aspect of baseball that is often ignored: defense. Kaplan, a former Sports Illustrated baseball writer, makes a wonderful case for the importance of defensive plays, noting that in addition to the occasional highlighted, entertaining defensive play, such as Willie Mays's 1954 World Series catch, there are many small gems of equal importance, such as the series of defensive plays by the Kansas City Royals that won the 1985 World Series. Kaplan devotes a chapter to each of the game's nine positions, detailing respective responsibilities, qualities needed (range, speed, etc.), how players start plays (e.g., Bobby Grich beginning a double play by meeting the ball with his left foot on the bag) and how each playerno matter how far removed from the ballis involved in a play. The author also provides a history of the development of each position and profiles exceptional defensive players, including Mays, Jim Kaat, Roberto Clemente, Keith Hernandez, Ozzie Smith, Carl Yastrzemski, Bill Mazeroski, Brooks Robinson and Johnny Bench. Photos not seen by PW. (March)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
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