In his first book, artist and writer Cieradkowski combines a passion for the sport (nurtured by his late father, who he says inspired this project) with his credentials as a graphic designer, where his credits include the graphics at the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards.
This book represents a natural progression from the author’s Infinite Baseball Card Set blog, where he continues to design cards for players who never had them (as well as some who have)—not the bubble-gum cards of the modern era but “the beautiful old tobacco cards that were manufactured at the turn of the century.” Such illustrations—and others, some full page—accompany anecdotal remembrances of the famous (at early stages of their careers), the infamous (the Black Sox and more violent criminals), the little known and those better known for other achievements. If you want a baseball card illustration of Eisenhower, Castro and Sinatra, this is your book. Prodigious research informs both the art and the text, though much within the latter will be familiar to those who have read the same baseball books the artist has. But even the well-known career of Pete Reiser, “the stuff of tragic legend,” merits celebrating again, while the tales of radicals who immigrated to Russia and brought baseball with them or the hurlers who used their strong arms with hand grenades (American and Japanese alike) will be fresh for all but the most ardent baseball historians. Pretty much every country where there is baseball has its own Babe Ruth, and they’re all represented here (as is Ruth). While newer generations of baseball fanatics have become more numbers oriented, the author is an old-school throwback who highlights the players in terms of their personalities. He effectively evokes a golden era of what was once the national pastime.
Baseball fanatics will love this illumination of the sport’s colorful past.