K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches

Doubleday. Apr. 2019. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385541015. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385541022. SPORTS
OrangeReviewStarIs baseball boring? Iconic announcer Red Barber famously stated, "Baseball is dull only to dull minds." It may not have the breakneck pace of basketball or big-play tension of football, but baseball has a lot of action beneath its measured surface. Pitching is one of those areas. New York Times sportswriter Kepner (The Phillies Experience) takes a deep look into this element of the game, dissecting the art of the pitch: slider, curve, sinker, fastball, and so on. He recounts the history and evolution of throws by pitcher, generation to generation. Laced through the narrative are interviews with famous pitchers and pitching coaches as well as enjoyable stories of pitchers who turn their careers completely around by simply learning one new pitch. A running theme is the tension between science and experience; players hope to see pitches accomplish things that are nearly impossible. This overlap of science and experience is a fascinating conversation to observe.
VERDICT Baseball enthusiasts will devour this well-paced, journalistic read, it may even inspire them to go outside for a little catch.

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