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Publishers Weekly, 2001-09-24 In this long, rambling account of the national pastime, Smith (Voices of the Game) visits various ballparks, often repeatedly, and recounts the dimensions of each park, the stories behind its construction and the history of the team(s) that occupied it. Smith, a former presidential speechwriter, mixes in quotations and anecdotes, both from the baseball world and the world at large, relating them to the stadiums and to the teams. Even if it takes readers 150 pages to get used to Smith's prose replete with colons, long dashes and short, abrupt sentences they still have 450 more to enjoy. Not for beginners, the book is riddled with jargon and slang sure to please the cognoscenti: "Boston '16 edged Brooklyn, 2-1, in 14 innings. Joe Oeschger and Brooklyn's Leon Cadore pitched 26 in 1920: Darkness called the game, 1-1. Offense woke with '28's inner fence." The book, while overlong, feels cramped and at times rushed because Smith attempts to cover the entire history of baseball. Quotations are sometimes repeated, clogging up the narrative. Still, the anecdotal style is enjoyable and appropriate to the topic. Fans of Bob Costas, who writes a short, predictable introduction, will find Smith's angle on baseball history palatable. Despite the repetition and bulk, it ends up being an enjoyable, informative read. (Oct.) Forecast: Costas's endorsement and a playoff-season release should help sales, though the distracting writing style and imposing length will scare off many readers. But most sports fans, of baseball especially, eat up anything praising their sport in print. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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