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.