Exquisite photographs and 97 essays, ranging from dubious to exemplary in quality and relevance, trace the 125-year history of professional baseball. Major League Baseball lends its logo to the fan's ultimate coffee-table book. By having unmatched access to various baseball archives, including those belonging to Major League Baseball, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the New York Public Library's Spalding Collection, Wallace has compiled a powerful visual account of the sport. Photographs of legendary players -- including Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson, and, in one especially riveting still, Yankees' catcher Thurman Munson bracing for a collision at the plate -- beautifully, almost eerily, preserve these heroes at the height of their youthful powers. Other effects, including uniforms, endorsements, cartoons, and trading cards, forcefully yet subtly demonstrate baseball's far-reaching cultural impact. While Wallace (The American Museum of Natural History's Book of Dinosaurs and Other Ancient Creatures, p. 1116) intends to show the game from all angles, the text occasionally struggles to meet the estimable standards set by the illustrated sections. Laudable is Wallace's inclusion of reports from the Reach and Spalding baseball annuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other noteworthy items are a 1955 scouting report on Brooks Robinson, who later became one of the greatest infielders ever, and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey's explanation of his choice of Jackie Robinson as major league baseball's first black player in over 60 years. But the impact of such documentation is somewhat mitigated by the inclusion of ghostwritten autobiographies and ""flack"" pieces of questionable objectivity, and by Wallace's own introductory passages, which, with their boosterish tone, gloss over some of the game's less obvious undercurrents. But above all, baseball is a fan's game, and this book, compiled lovingly by a fan, deserves notice as a beautiful and enjoyable baseball time capsule.