Even confirmed students of the sport will have something to learn from this fannish assemblage of baseball facts and trivia.
In no particular order, Sylvester describes different types of bats and gloves, playing-field layout and dimensions, what’s inside a baseball, where select foreign-born major leaguers come from, what player salaries have looked like down the years, what tickets and concessions cost in 1950 and today, plus a few records, trends, and feats. Along with players renowned (Babe Ruth) and less so (Mario Mendoza), he also drops names of prominent announcers, umpires, and women in the sport. Nor does he neglect scandals, drug use, home run records with asterisks, or a tally of the foreign substances (including pee) that pitchers have used. Cartoon illustrations mix uniformed figures (some of them recognizable) with easy-to-understand diagrams and infographics. The book bobbles a bit. The author never does get around to the basic rules of play and leaves explanations for some of the items on a sample line of season batting stats (BB, SL, OPS) until a later page. Moreover, though many of his tantalizing facts and anecdotes will leave readers hot to know more, he closes with a mix of review and trivia questions rather than, as he puts it, a “really boring” list of “websites you should go visit, et cetera.”
Still, as well as a browser’s delight, a wide-angled, if fragmentary and heavily pixelated, overview of the sport as it was and is today. (Nonfiction. 8-11)