It's all been told before: how Abner Doubleday didn't invent the game; how Jackie Robinson became the first black major leaguer; how Mathewson and Feller and Koufax were great pitchers and Ruth and Cobb and Williams made history in the batter's box; even how 1969 was the Year of the Mets. Rydell doesn't seem to mind going over it all again, but his account boasts neither surprises (Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Denny McClain head his list of up-and-comers) nor originality of expression -- ""Drama. Excitement. Heartbreak. Zaniness. They're part and parcel of the game of baseball. . . ."" The chapter on vocabulary (""Can Anybody Here Speak This Game?"") may be useful for rookie fans -- kids who know a Baltimore Chop from a Texas Leaguer, or who've read a few other books on baseball, are likely to be too advanced for this one.