How Youth Baseball Determines the Personality of the American Male
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 It's where on the sandlot you, as a kid, first essayed the national pastime that determines your lot in life, according to the comic proponents of the Ryan Theory of Adolescent Development in American Males. The Ryans, päre et fils, can convince any real American male that position is of even more consequence in baseball than it is in the Kamasutra. Baseball sets character more firmly than nature or nurture. Better than Costello coached by Abbott, the kids know who's on first. First base is occupied by a tall athlete who, in manhood, seethes because he didn't pitch. On the pitcher's mound is the best-looking lad (since the audience will focus mostly on him) who also happens to be the coach's kid. The center fielder ``will never lose the aura of space about him.'' Look out for the shortstop, and don't ask about the left fielder. The incumbents in each of the nine positions are described in terms of raw ingredients, the game's imprint, and the finished product--which, the Ryans claim, explains a lot about the state of the nation. Benedict Arnold never played, but Nathan Hale, we are told, played second. Nonplayers, substitutes, and batboys (who are there to be killed by flung bats) are not neglected, and the Ryans offer a learned discussion of the lasting importance of one's place in the batting order. Full of what passes for statistics and references to bogus studies (surely derived from too much time spent in sports bars during the baseball strike), the text will perfectly suit the True American Guy, who, after all, is (1) a great ball player, and (2) a Guy with a great sense of humor. Gender-specific and possibly dangerous to right fielders, the light text will easily tickle the fans just in time for another season,

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4661-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996