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A Look Back: The Ultimate Baseball Book

I have great memories associated with this book.

I have great memories associated with this book.

On Christmas Day 1982, I received perhaps my favorite Christmas gift of all, The Ultimate Baseball Book by Daniel Okrent and Harris Lewine.

Now by this time of my life (13 years old), I was already hooked on the National Pastime. I ate, slept, and breathed baseball. It was on my mind from when I woke in the morning and fell asleep at night. I was constantly playing the game; in organized leagues, in neighborhood pickup games, or in the dining room with Strat-O-Matic. What a great way to grow up.

When I unwrapped the package and saw what the gift was, I was pleased but it was later when I opened the book it that I realized what a treasure I had been given.

The thing that immediately struck me when I opened this large (9”x12”) volume was the photography. The legends of the game were seemingly brought to life by stunning black and white photographs.

The photos were accompanied with write-ups detailing the history of the game. This was my first real introduction to 19th century, Deadball, and Negro League baseball. I had already known the names Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, but now folks like Josh Gibson, Christy Mathewson and Frank “Home Run” Baker became part of my world. It seems hardly possible, but it made me an even more enthusiastic fan.

I’ve read it over and over and over again. Even today, it’s a great book to pull out and browse through. Almost 40 years after reading it for the first time, the book still gives me a sense of awe as I page through the journey the great game has taken.

If you’re a baseball fan, interested in the history of the sport, I’d recommend getting your hands on this book. A quick look at Amazon showed about 30 used copies of the book available, starting at under $10.

Do you have any meaningful books from your youth you still read today?

The photography in this book is just stunning, and brings the legends of the game to life.

The photography in this book is just stunning, and brings the legends of the game to life.


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