An engaging meditation on baseball, in the guise of trivia q&a. For first-time author/ superheated baseball-fan Salisbury, trivia is ""a dialogue in baseball's eternal present,"" eliciting a ""catechism: a meeting of the past, present, and imagination."" Thus, here a question like ""Who was the first big-league Indian?"" is answered not by just a name (Louis Sockalexis, 1871-1913), but also by another question--""How and why did baseball become so deeply rooted in the American psyche?""--that finds its answer in an exploration of baseball's ascendancy in the mid-19th century, a time when the nation was reconciling Hamiltonian practicality with Jeffersonian idealism. As far afield as he may wander, however, Salisbury always gets back to baseball in resonant questions that cover such areas as streaks, violence, card collecting, and the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. Compact and commanding, like a last ball down the middle: a kind of ruminatory complement to The Bill James Baseball Abstract, and easily one of the most unusual and enticing baseball books in some time.