In what was a first for this blog, OMDQ and I got a note from the folks at Da Capo Press a few days ago, inquiring if we’d like an advance copy of the Revised & Updated Baseball Field Guide, written by Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger. There was no request, either explicit or implicit, to present the book to our readers, but that’s what I’m going to do, because I really like it.
The Field Guide is a fairly simple reference work. It provides the basic rules of baseball, divided into sections: Pitching, Batting, Running, Umpires, etc. Many of the baseball savants that read our site may scoff at the notion that they can brush up on their knowledge of the game, but I am big enough to admit that some explanation of some of the trickier stuff is much appreciated. I loved the entire section on what happens before the game, which is governed by rules just like the actual contest. Also interesting little tidbits answering odd questions like “which fielder gets credit for an out if the batter is using an illegal bat?” The answer – the catcher. So while George Brett was losing his mind in the 1983 “Pine Tar Incident”, Yankees backstop Rick Cerone was quietly getting a bump in his fielding percentage.
As the parent of an excellent tee-ball first baseman, I can see how the illustrations in this book might be helpful in explaining the rules to younger players who are starting to discover the nuances of the sport. One of my favorites is the discussion of the strike zone, using a comparative photo of Sammy Sosa and Eddie Gaedel, the midget put on the field by St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck in 1951.
So, the book has useful information in spades, with a very readable style. It goes beyond a simple recitation of the rules by answering questions that fans might ask, and explaining unusual situations that have cropped up over the years.
You can wait to buy a copy for yourself when it comes out, or you can enter the Jay Bruce nickname contest and win our advance copy. It gets the Bus Leagues stamp of approval, whatever that’s worth.