Giamatti died just nine years ago, after having served as commissioner of baseball for only five months. Already, however, a Greek word that appears several times in this slim collection applies to the memories of Giamatti held by many fans: nostos, the yearning for home. They yearn for the faraway days of 1989, when baseball still clung to vestiges of old glories and verities, and a man like Giamatti, a literature scholar and former president of Yale University, could write seriously about the sport as the ultimate metaphor for all of America. Giamatti would share fans' grief at the continuing debasement of the sport (consider the 1997 rent-a-champs Florida Marlins), but not their pessimism. The people who mn baseball today, however hapless or greedy, dare not tamper with the rules of the game, whose symmetries are a constant source of fascination for Giamatti. Nor can they change the tension at the heart of the game between freedom and order that embodies, as Giamatti puts it, ""the promise America made itself to cherish the individual while recognizing the overarching claims of the group."" The collector of these writings, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, apparently dug up virtually every word Giamatti wrote on the sport, not all of which needed to be set in marble. But even the most jaded and long-cooled passions will be stirred by Giamatti's erudite and intense love of baseball. Baseball, to him, is so like America in its interplay between individual freedom and the rule of law that it will be forever the national pastime, regardless of how far it slips from national favor.