With the wonderful statement "Pitchers and
Catchers Report," the yearly baseball famine ends.
This welcome phrase announces the start of Spring
Training in the baseball world. For six weeks, all the major league teams
have intensive workouts in Florida or Arizona, and then select the 25
players for their regular season roster.
The sport of baseball still holds a fascination
with the American public. According to BaseballReference.com, in the
2010 season, 2,430 major league games were played with an average attendance
of 30,067 fans, for total attendance for all games of 73,061,763. Obviously,
some people are still listening to the song, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."
Where does all of this appeal come from? Is it the
beauty of sitting with your family on a pleasant summer night at the
ballpark? Is it watching great athletes make outstanding plays?
Maybe it’s the intensively satisfying sound of a
wood bat smashing a ball and seeing it soar into the stands for a home run.
Without question this is one of the most exciting moments in baseball, and
Mark Steward and Mike Kennedy have captured this experience in the book, "Long
Ball: The Legend and Lore of the Home Run."
One hundred years ago, home runs were hardly
noticed in baseball. Hitting in those days meant slapping the ball into
holes in the infield and outfield. Since this was the "proper" way to hit,
batters did not take big swings at the pitch. Ty Cobb was the perfect
example of this type of hitter. This radically changed when Babe Ruth
arrived on the scene and began hitting massive drives into the bleachers.
Needless to say, the fans were impressed by these monster shots. The Home
Run Era was born at this time. Following Ruth were a number of dynamic home
run hitters including Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron, Mark McGwire
and Barry Bonds.
Throughout the book, the authors take readers
through some of baseball’s compelling moments. The top 10 home runs of all
time are detailed. Tape measure home runs are illustrated. Even strange
facts about home runs, including the longest and the shortest are presented.
Another curious example is the fact that Ty Cobb once led the league in home
runs without ever hitting a ball over the fence. Each of his nine home runs
was an inside-the-park homer.
While telling the fun and glory of the home run,
the authors honestly discuss the gloomy events surrounding the Steroids Era.
But despite this black eye, baseball is still thriving and the home run is
still the most exciting play in the game.
What are some of your memories of baseball games?
Did you sit with your parents and enjoy the atmosphere and excitement? Do
you have a favorite player? Does any home run stand out in your mind as a
lifetime thrill? I have always cherished the memory of seeing Duke Snider
smash a home run in St. Louis when I was 8 years old. Now that was a tater.
If you want to start your child on a life time of
wonderful baseball memories, go to the library and check out "Long Ball:
The Legend and Lore of the Home Run."
This is a terrific book that will be greatly
enjoyed by students in the 4th-6th grades. The writing
is solid and the pictures and illustrations draw readers into the book. "Long
Ball" is a most pleasant read. I hope you get a chance to check it out.
By the way, all the baseball books can be found in the j796.357 section
of the library. After all, it’s almost time to "Play Ball." Enjoy!