The Long Ball BOOK review [Tom Adelman]

Book Reviews
The Long Ball BOOK review [Tom Adelman]
Mar 31, 2001, 21:48

THE LONG BALL by Tom Adelman; Little Brown, 2003

Tom Adelman's The Long Ball evokes an era of baseball literature that existed when reportage was more concerned with playing field heroics than with Sabremetrics, salary negotiations and clubhouse shenanigans. Like a sports scribe of yore, Adelman covers the front running teams of the 1975 campaign, a season that culminated in a dramatic World Series competition between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. Detailed recollections of long-forgotten innings are peppered with personal anecdotes pertaining to the paternal relationships of renowned players George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Pete Rose, and Robin Yount. Also present are Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr.; two adolescents who grew up to become star players themselves. Mentions of historic events that occur outside of baseball are kept to a minimum and commentary on changes in the economic structure of the game (the advent of free agency and the turnover of team ownership from family-held interests to wealthy investors) is relegated to Adelman's short conclusion. A sports book that lacks flash or controversy can only be as compelling as the stories that are contained within and the highlight of The Long Ball can be found during a chapter that is devoted to the final games of the 1975 postseason. The last two games of the Series that year are considered to be among the most dramatic that have been played. Considering the ongoing nature of sport; Adelman's rewrite of the sports pages of 25 years ago offers little competition to dramas that are active and in the process of being decided. But The Long Ball is a fine exercise in nostalgia and should appeal to anyone over the age of 35 who feels more at home in a Hot Stove League than a Rotisserie league.

- Jeffrey L. Ouch

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