A great summer read to celebrate the return of the game "designed to break your heart." Mark Kingwell ruminates on everything from baseball history & lore and personal anecdotes from his childhood to philosophical meditations on the passage of time, cheating, nostalgia, language, racism, nationalism, and beauty. The undercurrent of these ruminations is a single theme: that baseball can, in many ways, teach us how to fail, but more importantly, how to learn and change through failure. Thoughtful and witty and relevant.
Stacey May Fowles' luminous book came to me right when I needed it the most. Based on her weekly newsletter of the same name, Baseball Life Advice is a love-letter to baseball as much as it is a take-down of the "boys' club" attitude surrounding the game, from the casual sexism towards female reporters to the cries of "fake geek girl" towards female fans. But it's also a personal account of Fowles' struggles with anxiety (think the fan's version of Rick Ankiel's The Phenomenon) and the various ways baseball teaches her to both fight it, and live with it. A must read for any feminist baseball fan, or any sports lover dealing with their own anxieties
I've been a fan of Rick Ankiel's ever since he arrived with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999, touted as the next Bob Gibson, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance at his jubilant return to the majors as an outfielder in 2007. So it's fair to say I've been pretty invested in Ankiel's career. But even for those who aren't, The Phenomenon is an absolutely fascinating read. Ankiel is remarkably candid about his struggle with The Yips and what followed - from his attempts to fight the condition with everything from therapy to breathing exercises to vodka, all the way to his reinvention as an outfielder and, more recently, a life skills coach for the Nationals, helping others struggling with anxiety. I've not read a sports memoir more honest than Ankiel's, and even those not familiar with Ankiel - or really, baseball, to a certain degree - will find themselves moved by his journey.
This is the perfect holiday gift for any sports fan in your life. This book tells the story of everything from Annie Oakley's rifle to Babe Ruth's "called shot" bat to the dress Billie Jean King wore during the "Battle of the Sexes" match to a hockey stick from the Miracle on Ice, all the way up to Michael Phelps' 2008 swim cap and a brain scan from a concussion-ailed football player. The book is not only a fascinating collection of artifacts, but also a collection of snapshots that showcases the climate of American sports (and, in many cases, American culture on a larger scale) in every era. No matter your favorite sport, you'll find something to be wow'ed by in this book