An unorthodox history of baseball told through the enthralling stories of the game's objects, equipment, and characters.
No sport embraces its wild history quite like baseball, especially in memorabilia and objects. Sure, there are baseball cards and team pennants. But there are also huge balls, giant bats, peanuts, cracker jacks, eyeblack, and more, each with a backstory you have to read to believe. In The 34-Ton Bat, Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin tells the real, unvarnished story of baseball through the lens of all the things that make it the game that it is.
Rushin weaves these rich stories -- from ballpark pipe organs played by malevolent organists to backed up toilets at Ebbets Field -- together in their order of importance (from most to least) for an entertaining and compulsive read, glowing with a deep passion for America's Pastime. The perfect holiday gift for casual fans and serious collectors alike, The 34-Ton Bat is a true heavy hitter.
Rushin, a longtime acclaimed writer for Sports Illustrated, chronicles the history of baseball through the items used by players (baseball bats, sanitary socks), enjoyed by fans (beer and hot dogs), and sported by both (baseball caps). A lot of the fun in Rushin's exhaustively researched, very readable history comes from learning about the people behind the innovations. The Dodgers' advertising v-p Danny Goodman, who made popular souvenirs such as the bobblehead to baseball, saw the stadium crowd as a captive audience willing to buy anything, from underpants to aprons. Foolproof Taylor spent years unsuccessfully promoting his protective cups and helmets. His sales method? Skeptics would kick Taylor, who thankfully was wearing his fortified handiwork, in the groin or smash him in the head with a bat. Baseball merchandise, which has long been an important part of the game, was until recently generally dismissed by players and sports writers alike. Players once scoffed at sunglasses and baseball gloves, which makes sense considering how many of them endured day games in broiling flannel uniforms. Rushin's exuberant prose describes the continuous evolution of baseball paraphernalia. 40 b&w photos.