What an enjoyable little book! My good friend Paul Dickson, well known for his writing on the history of baseball and other aspects of American history, has assembled a witty and sometimes funny collection of comments from a range of people characterizing the game we all love, whether we know it or not. Baseball has long been used as a metaphor for life, meaning, the universe, God, and anything else anyone can think of. I have heard it used to teach lessons in the bedroom, the board room, and the bar; in the church and in the community center; and even on the all knowing, all seeing television.
Here are just a few of my favorite statements from the book:
- “Baseball is simple but never easy”—Roger Angell.
- “In the great department store of life, baseball is the toy department”—Anonymous.
- “Baseball is the slowest sport this side of long-distance needlepoint”—Russell Baker.
- “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical”—Yogi Berra.
- “Baseball is the only sport where you can do everything 100 percent right and still fail”—Wade Boggs.
- “Baseball, my son, is the cornerstone of civilization”—Dagwood Bumstead.
- “Baseball is not unlike war, and when you get right down to it, we batters are the heavy artillery”—Ty Cobb.
- “Baseball is a romance, marked by good days and bad, heartaches and thrills, ups and downs, but always with each day promising something new”—Michele Walters Costa.
- “Baseball is very big with my people. It figures. It’s the only time we get to shake a bat at a white man without starting the riot”—Dick Gregory.
- “Baseball is the only game you can see on the radio”—Phil Hersh.
- “Baseball is the most important thing in life that doesn’t matter”—Robert B. Parker.
- “It is said that baseball is only a game. Yes, and the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona”—George Will.
I also enjoyed one from Nuke Laloosh in the classic baseball movie Bull Durham: “A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.’ Think about that for a while.” I also like that he included a quote from Annie Savoy from the same film: “Baseball is never boring. Which makes it like sex.” Just great!
Buck up baseball fans, this book is for you. It contains a loving set of statements about baseball and its meaning. Some of them are trite, some silly, some compelling, some enlightening, and some provocative. All of them are entertaining.