cover image Anatomy of Baseball

Anatomy of Baseball

. Southern Methodist University Press, $22.5 (210pp) ISBN 978-0-87074-522-5

In the intro to her contribution, Susan Perabo offers up a reason for once again delving into the subject of baseball: ""As with love, the topic is inexhaustible because it feels like personal property to everyone who holds the sport dear."" The love connection shows clearly in these sweet, sometimes sentimental essays, penned by more than enough authors to field a team. Heavy-hitters George Plimpton and Frank Deford observe the overlooked virtues of playing right field and the mysterious ubiquity of the baseball cap. An excellent piece from Caitlin Horrocks introduces America to Pesapallo, a Finnish version of the game, while Rick Harsch battles it out with umpires as the manager of a ball team in Slovenia. Only a few of the essays strike out; despite occasional cloying nostalgia, cliches (one essay is actually titled ""Ya Gotta Believe""), and a characteristically incoherent foreword by Yogi Berra, the collection offers a wide enough range to please both casual fans and the stat-obsessed. They may be circling a well-worn literary path, but most of these writers find, as Perabo suggests, ""there is always something new-something original, something crucial-to add to the conversation.""