Reviews for Why We Love Baseball

by Joe Posnanski

Library Journal
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The 2012 National Sportswriter of the Year Posnanski (The Secret of Golf) has assembled 50 baseball "moments," ranked roughly in order of importance or impact, that will help readers better understand the passion that fans, players, and numerous others feel toward the game. Many of the events described in this book will be familiar to baseball fans, but its uniqueness comes in the way it varies and offers odd or unusual perspectives about each legendary occurrence. The book's accounts are based on countless interviews with individuals, ranging from spectators to those who play or work in the sport professionally. Their perspectives, combined with Posnanski's comical storytelling ability and heartwarming, delightful writing style, create an entertaining experience and deeper appreciation for the magic of the sport. VERDICT This work will likely enlighten even the most knowledgeable and die-hard baseball fans. An essential purchase for all libraries.—Steve Dixon

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The celebrated sportswriter circles the bases, calling out exceptional moments in the history of the game. “Henry Aaron’s 715th home run is the most magical moment in baseball history,” writes Posnanski, author of The Baseball 100. It’s a tall claim, but it holds up, illustrating Aaron’s quiet resistance to White hatred and proving his repeated claim that in baseball, “All that matters is if you can play.” There are plenty of other noteworthy events in Posnanski’s pages—and well more than 50, in fact: He counts 108, coincidentally the number of stitches in a standard ball and number of years between Chicago Cubs championships. Some of the moments are well known, such as Babe Ruth’s calling the home run he was about to hit. Others are buried deep in baseball lore, including an appearance on the mound by Jackie Mitchell, a young woman who just so happened to strike Ruth out at an exhibition bout after Ruth loudly proclaimed that women were “too delicate” for the game. One of Posnanski’s winning ploys is to dig into the archives to find such hidden gems and especially to celebrate the mediocre players who, for one of those magical moments, pulled something out of their caps and hit a surprise homer—as with Bartolo Colón, the 42-year-old portly pitcher who smacked one out of the park and then took so long to round the bases that one announcer was moved to explain, charitably, “I think that’s how fast he runs.” Other of Posnanski’s diamond heroes, famed and obscure, have more hustle, including 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall, who pitched for the Cincinnati Reds when the grown-ups were fighting in World War II; J.L. Wilkinson, who introduced lights and night games to the field by way of the old Negro League; and Ichiro Suzuki, the ever smiling Mariner—“Has there ever been a more joyous player than Ichiro?”—who showed what love of the game is all about. A book for any baseball fan to cherish. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Longtime sportswriter Posnanski takes easy, almost unfair advantage of avid baseball fans by presenting dozens of great moments in the game’s long history. Of course, fans will swoon to Edgar Martinez’s double to drive in Ken Griffey Jr., clinching Seattle’s 1995 playoff series against the Yankees; to a baseball sneaking through the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner in Game 6 to keep the Mets’ 1986 World Series hopes alive; to Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-game record; to Don Larson’s perfect game in the 1956 Series. But there are grace notes and surprises throughout—for example, Armando Galarraga, who had crafted a perfect game for Detroit in 2010 but for a blown call by firstbase umpire Ed Joyce on what would have been the final out. After the game, Galarraga would seek out a distraught Joyce and comfort the veteran umpire, saying, “Nobody’s perfect.” And there’s the Expos’ deaf outfielder, Curtis Pride, who, on getting the first hit of his career, could not hear the thunderous cheers of the Montreal fans, but instead could feel the vibrations in his chest from their stomping feet. A winning collection of baseball moments both inside and outside the lines.

Publishers Weekly
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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.)