Stories of fathers, their sons, and a way forward for the troubled game of baseball.
Some of the shine has worn off of the sport in recent years. Major League Baseball has dealt with ongoing concerns about performance-enhancing drugs and has seriously considered changing some of the rules of the game to make it more fast-paced—a response to shrinking revenues. Fewer people want to be taken out to the old ball game. It wasn’t always so, however, and Cook (Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America, 2014, etc.) explores stories of the sport’s connections in families, starting with his own. Cook’s father, Art, supported his son’s early forays into baseball. A minor league pitcher, Art, sporting a wicked screwball, had been “this close” to a big league career. The author discusses his father striking him out at a community game and the impact it had on his perception of himself years later. Cook also examines how in baseball families—from the Griffeys to the Boones—fathers help sons grow into the game and discover their best paths within it. The author marinates his tales in the details of the game, presenting statistics alongside nostalgic descriptions of late summer afternoons, sunshine-bathed fields, and do-or-die ninth-inning gambits. It’s not all sunshine, however. Cook also reflects on some of the darker stories, like that of Barry Bonds, wondering how great his career would have been without the performance-enhancing drugs—and without his father’s shadow hanging over him. On the whole, though, the author writes to enshrine the best aspects of baseball, combining a father’s love of the game with a love for the son.
An enjoyable exploration of baseball, fatherhood, and how “there’s something special about the way families share the game.”