Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks Paperback – Mar 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. "Professional fan" Hample (How to Snag Major League Baseballs), who falls squarely in the "deeply serious geek" category, has put together an invaluable resource for armchair fans. A former college shortstop, four-time attendee of Bucky Dent's Baseball School and an obsessive baseball collector, Hample covers basics like what to watch for in pitchers, catchers, hitters, fielders and base runners; he also provides answers to such nagging questions as why spectators stretch in the seventh inning and why most ballplayers grab their crotches. He explains the difference between a change-up and a split-finger fastball, breaks down a box score and offers an extensive glossary of baseball slang that defines both a "courtesy trot" and a "dying quail." Other sections address free agency and fair balls, umpires and uniform numbers, stadiums and superstitions. Trivia abounds, including the names of the 10 switch hitters honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a record of inside-the-park homeruns. Hample hits the equivalent of a reference-book homerun with his witty, loose and readable style-taking a friendly for-a-fan-by-a-fan approach that doesn't hide his enormous depth of knowledge. Highly recommended for baseball watchers, Hample also schools amateur players and coaches with well-illustrated examples of some complex pitching, hitting and base-running scenarios.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hample is known in the blogosphere as the foremost snagger of major-league baseballs (read all about it at snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs .com). Here he turns to ink and paper with a Baseball for Dummies-type guide that, thanks to its irreverent, tongue-in-cheek style, will also appeal to fans who left the dummy stage long ago. He covers such topics as the amateur draft, grips for various pitches--slider, curve, splitter, etc.--and what managers talk about on their visits to the mound. There is discussion of the seemingly obvious (the role of starting pitchers) and the more arcane (when not to slide), and there is plenty of genuinely fascinating historical trivia (how the letter K came to be the scorekeeper's symbol for a strikeout). All in all, this is a light but informative tome that will be just the ticket to get fans in the right frame of mind for opening day. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
If someone had given me this book at that age, I would have treasured Watching Baseball Smarter above all over gifts I got that at that time. I would have been most thrilled by the illustrations of how the various pitches are thrown.
Remember that observation when you consider if you know any budding fans who would be thrilled to have this book.
As for the claim that the book is also for semi-experts and deeply serious geeks, I don't think so. I didn't see any material that wasn't well known to me by the time I was 15. And I was hardly a semi-expert or a deeply serious geek. I just enjoyed watching and attending the games.
Don't give this book to a serious baseball fan; you'll embarrass yourself if you do.
Here are few questions to test your ability to enjoy the book:
1. What is the infield fly rule?
2. What is a double switch?
3. What is a catcher's earned run average?
4. What is a safety squeeze?
5. How do you keep score?
If know all five, this book isn't for you. If you know four, you'll get an occasional nugget from the book. If you know three or fewer, this book is a good choice for you.
On this reading, the main pleasure was from remembering when I first learned the material and from an occasional bit of trivia that was new to me.Read more ›