Baseball history at your fingertips in "A Game of Inches"
"A Game of Inches" by Peter Morris explains the origin and evolution of the sport's many innovations and rules.
As the 2011 major-league baseball season begins, imagine yourself sitting in the stands with new friends from India. The questions they ask aren’t going to be those of the lifetime fan – "Will the Giants repeat as champions?" "Will the Pirates snap their 18-season losing streak?" etc. – but rather those aimed at the very basics of the game. In other words, will you be prepared to explain why the bases are run in a counterclockwise, rather than a clockwise, direction?
Probably not, but explanations for why baseball is played the way it is are often fascinating. The base-running direction, for example, was established by an influential New York team, the Knickerbockers in the mid-1800s, when heading off to the right toward first base worked well for most right-handed hitters and made throwing to first more natural for right-handed fielders.
This revealing tidbit is typical of the information compiled in the revised and expanded one-volume paperback edition of A Game of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations That Shape Baseball. This impressive 600-page resource is written by Peter Morris, one of baseball’s foremost historians, who acknowledges his debt to many fellow members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
A former national and international Scrabble champion, Morris first published this work in a two-volume hardcover edition in 2006, when it was the first book awarded both of the genre’s most coveted honors, SABR’s Seymour Medal and Spitball magazine’s Casey Award.