Baseball has a great literary tradition, and with the histories, biographies, memoirs, and novels that I have read, I have just barely sampled what is available. Every summer I try to read a couple of baseball books. (I also read a few in winter to rekindle memories of summer.) I started this June with a book sent to me by a book publicist, For the Love of Baseball: A Celebration of the Game That Connects Us All edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner.
For the Love of Baseball is an updated collection of baseball-related stories and essays previously titled Anatomy of Baseball and Great Baseball Stories. Many are somewhat autobiographical and are as much about their authors as about actual games. In some, stars of the game play supporting roles for fans who are the real subjects. Contributors include a few familiar names, such as George Plimpton, Gay Talese, Frank Deford, and Roger Angell, but most names were new to me.
As you might expect with a diverse collection, not every piece fit my taste, but I found many entertaining and thought-provoking. I particularly liked "My Brilliant Career" in which Susan Perabo tells about her difficulty retiring from her pretend career as a major leaguer. She has mostly succeeded. I'm not sure I am there yet. I laughed while reading "My First Day with the Yankees" in which Matthew McGough describes his initiation as a batboy surrounded by well-known players and coaches. I was moved by the story of Art Williams, second black umpire in the major leagues, told in "Overhustle" by Lee Gutkind. The most surprising story was "Pesapallo: Playing at the Edge of the World" by teacher Caitlin Horrocks who describes baseball's evolution in school yard Finland.
For the Love of Baseball is a book you can read a little at a time if you like, savoring each story. You might even understand your own role in the culture of baseball by the time you finish.
For the Love of Baseball: A Celebration of the Game That Connects Us All. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. 237p. ISBN 9781629142470.