A crazy quilt of baseball high spots and memories, distilled from interviews with over 500 former major leaguers and managers.
Though stitched into chronological chapters and, despite the subtitle, covering 19th-century baseball too, Panchyk’s labor of love ends up less a coherent, unified whole than an anecdotal jumble of incidents, records, and firsts. He also seems determined to stuff as many names into his narrative as possible, so that familiar stars such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams are nearly shouldered aside by a dizzying swarm of smaller fry. And though some offer personal reminiscences about how they broke into the major leagues, too many contribute only the vague platitudes that players still use. The illustrations are largely decades-old photos of players, tickets, and printed programs, and the history turns decidedly threadbare once it reaches the 21st century. Sidebars on nearly every spread mix miniessays on topics ranging from baseball nicknames to select no-hitters with at-times questionable hands-on activities; one suggests announcing part of a real game and then playing the recording back to an audience, which is possibly illegal, for instance.
Rabid fans might take a swing at this, but younger or less well-informed ones will get a better sense of how the game is and was played elsewhere. (index, timeline, resources) (Nonfiction. 10-13)