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TLC Book Club: Baseball Field Guide

baseball field guide coverI got an email a week or so ago from a fellow named Sean, who works for Da Capo Press. Sean wanted to see if I’d be interested in checking out a copy of the Baseball Field Guide, to which I naturally responded with “absolutely.” He dropped it in the mail, it arrived today.

Originally I figured I’d take a look and maybe mention it in the comments or as a tack-on to the next Open Thread. Now that I’ve seen it, though, it deserves a post of its own.

Essentially, the Guide is the baseball rulebook. But saying that doesn’t really do it justice. Authors Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger have taken what should be rather dense and tedious material — useful for reference only — and turned it into something enjoyable to read in its own right.

Utilizing crisp typography (FF Din, I believe) and a wealth of gorgeous infographics — all anchored to a strong, grid-based layout — they’ve taken the rules and made them engaging and surprisingly satisfying.

The end result is the kind of book I love to have around, one I can just pick up anytime, open to a random page, and enjoy for a few minutes. But that doesn’t mean it’s somehow watered down — it isn’t. The level of detail is frightening, and I’ve already learned (then quickly forgotten) quite a bit.

My only complaint is that it refers to the “league presidents” several times. In fact, Bud Selig removed the league presidents in 1999 and consolidated decision-making power in the Commissioner’s office.

That’s a small quibble, though, because overall the book is quite satisfying. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending that you pick up a copy for yourself.

Which is a relief, for sure, because if the book had sucked I would have felt really bad telling Sean that I wasn’t going to mention it.

4 comments to TLC Book Club: Baseball Field Guide

  • Joe the Guy

    Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story

    -my all time favorite baseball book

    but I’ll check this one out too – thanks neal

  • Mike L

    looks like the most interesting rule book ever. Probably could learn a thing or two. I’ll give it a shot. I just finished “Tales From the Orioles Dugout.” Some great stories in there…

    Steve Stone- “Sitting in the dugout, bottom of the ninth with a 4-3 lead, Tippy Martinez comes in to close…Loads the bases with 2 outs…3-0 count to the batter. I’m thinking he’s not gonna throw 3 strikes before another ball. I’m not going to get the win. Then strike 1…strike 2… Out of the corner of my eye i see Eddie take his glove off at first base. They wouldn’t… then Tippy made a move to 1st and Rickey Henderson hasnt moved to this day. Eddie takes a step over and tags him on the chest for the 3rd out, and I got my 21st win of the season.

    Awesome. That and much more.

  • dan the man

    I want this book real bad.

  • Hi Neal

    Someone pointed me to your post about our book Baseball Field Guide (and it wasn’t Sean). Thanks for the review !! This new edition has been out for just a few weeks. We’re hoping to get some blog reviews / word-of-mouth / viral marketing action going – so we really appreciate your mention of it. The book was a labor-of-love (or maybe I should say obsession).

    For the “League Presidents” term – don’t shoot, we’re just the messengers. MLB’s newly revised official rule book refers to league presidents multiple times. The league president references are maintained because they still exist in the NAPBL (a.k.a – the minors). MLB rules cover major and minor leagues. But it’s a good topic that we can mention and clarify on our website. And maybe we can add a footnote in future editions.

    And, yep – the typeface is DIN!!


    Dan Formosa
    Baseball Field Guide