cover image Tales of the Diamond: Select Gems of Baseball

Tales of the Diamond: Select Gems of Baseball

Unknown. Woodford Publishing, $29.95 (151pp) ISBN 978-0-942627-15-2

Yet another addition to the seemingly never-ending shelf of baseball fiction anthologies, this is a handsomely produced volume with 66 charming illustrations, wonderfully naive works with great splashes of color that evoke the palette of '50s baseball cards. The 14 stories run from the bittersweet to the hilarious, but the emphasis is on humor more than pathos. Paul Gallico, for example, tampers with the umpires' traditional dark blue uniforms to great comic effect in ``The Umpire's Revolt.'' Several stories have been previously anthologized, notably in Charles Einstein's Fireside Book of Baseball and its sequels, but others are largely unfamiliar. The best of these are Wilbur Schramm's ``My Kingdom for Jones''; Garrison Keillor's archly satirical portrait of the first woman in the major leagues, called ``What Did We Do Wrong?''; ``The Pitcher and the Plutocrat,'' a typically giddy P. G. Wodehouse farce; T. Coraghessan Boyle's odd fable of an aging Hispanic ballplayer, ``The Hector Quesadilla Story''; and ``A Killing,'' a bizarre anecdote by Roger Angell in which baseball functions as a sort of cultural coin of the realm. With the exception of Zane Grey's predictable and mawkish ``Old Well-Well,'' all of the contributions here are worthy of their subject. Further authority is provided in the foreword by commissioner Vincent and the introduction by Sports Illustrated writer Fimrite. (Dec.)