cover image Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments

Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments

Joe Posnanski. Dutton, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-47267-5

Journalist Posnanski (The Baseball 100) hits it out of the park in this rousing celebration of baseball. With the colorful banter of a play-by-play announcer (“You had a titan on the mound, a folk hero at the plate—yes, this is certainly why we love baseball,” he writes of a 1989 face-off between Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan and the Royals’s Bo Jackson), Posnanski recounts the “50 most magical baseball moments” from across all levels of the game. For number 48, he tells how in 2010, 13-year-old Chelsea Baker reached the pinnacle of her four-year winning streak by pitching a perfect game to win the district title for her Plant City, Fla., Little League team. At number 41 is Class C minor league Roswell Rockets player Ponderous Joe Bauman’s August 1954 game against the Sweetwater Spudders, during which he hit four home runs, setting him on the path to end the season with a record-breaking (until 2001) 72 homers. Other moments look beyond the U.S.—such as Japanese pitcher Yutaka Enatsu striking out the country’s most revered player in 1968, the highlight of a season in which he struck out a record 401 batters—and even beyond the playing field, as when Posnanski praises longtime Dodgers announcer Vin Scully’s coverage of Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on September 9, 1965. There are some well-known moments thrown into the mix (Hank Aaron hitting his 715th home run lands at number 1), but the abundance of stories from games outside the Major Leagues will enlighten even trivia-obsessed baseball fans. This will have readers cheering from their seats. (Sept.)