Monday, June 13, 2016

Nonfiction Monday: Baseball Then to Wow

I am conflicted about this title. First, I really know very little about sports in general and even less about baseball. Frankly, I care even less. However, kids like sports and I have a lot of very enthusiastic fans who devour sports books.

A lot of them are girls. This leads me to my very mixed feelings about this title.

So, it's a history of baseball. It starts out with a rather florid introduction to the game, which says in part "Fair play, however, has always governed baseball." Um....sure. We can overlook all the newspaper reports I guess. It then goes to a timeline of how the rules have changed, teams and changes there, uniforms, equipment, and stadiums. These are all included in the "Basics" chapter. Fair enough. The next chapter is focused on "The Players" and here I have....some problems. So, as I said I know next to nothing about sports but I do know the story of Jackie Mitchell. Whether or not she really struck out Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, shouldn't there at least be a mention of the women who attempted to play the game? The chapter continues through statistics and trivia about players - fastest, "pitch masters" etc. There is one spread dedicated to "Pioneers" featuring Jackie Robinson and players from Latin America and Japan and then the chapter jumps back to statistics and milestones.

The next chapters cover the other aspects of the game, the management, coaches, playing strategies and umpires. Oh, look another spread on organizations other than Major League Baseball! There's a section on minor leagues and two historic leagues - All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and the Negro Leagues. No mention of any contemporary women's leagues. Back to famous baseball teams and then over to marketing and memorabilia. One last spread covers other similar games - a quick paragraph on Little League (no mention of Mo'ne Davis) and a paragraph on softball that says "More popular with girls than boys." Back to the memorabilia, trivia, ballpark food and finishing with photo credits.

Verdict: So...this is very attractively presented, there are lots of facts and information, it does include some information, if very little, on diversity. But I simply can't see handing this book to any of my female sports fans. It's very male-centric and, from what I understand, baseball is pretty much men only and while this isn't necessarily the place to mount a platform for more recognition of female players (or fans for that matter) I felt like they were completely overlooked. So I don't really have an opinion on this. Most sports are male-centric and I'll be working hard to buy more female-focused sports books as I update my sports sections. I really need more books like this that provide attractive overviews of sports. But I find it hard to feel happy about adding it to my library.

ISBN: 9781618931429; Published 2016 by Sports Illustrated for Kids; Review copy provided by publisher

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