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Books for Baseball Season!

By 49thShelf
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tagged: baseball
Great Canadian books about baseball.
Full Count

Full Count

Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

From one of Canada's top baseball writers and radio hosts: a retrospective of the Toronto Blue Jays on the 20th anniversary of Joe Carter's World Series-winning home run--and a look ahead to what promises to be their most successful season since. A must-have for all Blue Jays fans, and a great read for Toronto and Canadian sports fans in general.
 
In Full Count, Jeff Blair takes us back to the days when the Toronto Blue Jays were "the Cadillac of franchises," and shows us exactly what they did …

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Baseball Love

Baseball Love

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary

Having written books in practically every genre, George Bowering is often introduced as someone who adores baseball, yet ironically he did not begin this book about the game until he was appointed Canada’s first Poet Laureate for 2002–04. This picaresque memoir of a road trip with his fiancée through the storied ballparks of a poet’s youthful dreams is built on the bargain of fiction—that the narration of someone else’s life requires the listener or reader to fill in the blanks of wh …

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Magic Time

Magic Time

edition:Paperback
tagged :

Mike Houle is a college all-star second baseman in his junior year when he turns down a fourth-round draft pick offer from the Montreal Expos. He'll finish his business degree and try his luck again next year. But Mike's final year in college sees his performance take a downward slide, and his big league dreams are going the way of his stats. When Mike's agent offers him a chance to play in the Cornbelt League in Iowa, Mike can't refuse. He can even handle the isolation of living in Grand Mound …

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Baseball

Baseball

A Poem in the Magic Number 9
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian

From its remarkable design to its effervescent language, George Bowering's ode to the beautiful game is as original as it is funny, as bittersweet as it is playful. A long-out-of-print Coach House classic, originally published in 1967, Baseball weaves together mythology, autobiography, literary history and pop culture into an inimitable book-length poem that explores all the nuances of the sport. Here are all the greats: Mantle, DiMaggio, Maris,Williams and Manuel Louie, shortstop for the Wenatc …

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How Baseball Works

How Baseball Works

by Keltie Thomas
illustrated by Greg Hall
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

Whether readers have their sights set on big-league grand slams or just want the inside scoop on everything baseball, How Baseball Works, part of the How Sports Work series, has something for everyone. Text that is as fast-paced to read as the game is to play, delves into all aspects of the sport. Great insider information includes the science of maintaining a baseball diamond; the tricky physics behind throwing a winning pitch; the inside story of the bat, ball, and glove; the secrets of explos …

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Northern Sandlots

Northern Sandlots

A Social History of Maritime Baseball
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
tagged : history

Northern Sandlots is the story of the rise and fall of regional baseball on the northeast coast of North America. Colin Howell writes about the social and economic influence of baseball on community life in the Maritimes and New England during the past century, from its earliest spread from cities and towns into the countryside, to the advent of television, and the withering of local semi-pro leagues after the Second World War.

The history of sport is an important feature of the 'new' social hist …

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The Longest Home Run

The Longest Home Run

by Roch Carrier
illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
translated by Sheila Fischman
edition:Paperback

“The longest home run in the history of baseball was hit by a girl.” So begins a baseball misadventure in the village of Ste. Justine. This time, a strange girl named Adeline shows up at the daisy field where Roch and his friends play baseball all summer. She proceeds to hit a towering home run…right through the window of the crankiest man in town. Adeline has other powers as well, which Roch and the boys discover at a magic show. But without the baseball, the game cannot go on. When Adeli …

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Baseballissimo

Baseballissimo

edition:Paperback

In the spring of 2002, Dave Bidini set off for Nettuno, Italy, with his wife, Janet, and their two small children, in search of his favourite summer game, baseball. Nettuno was his destination because this town, south of Rome, has been the baseball capital of Italy since 1944, when the game was introduced by the American GIs who liberated the region. Bidini wanted to spend time in a town where everyone is as nuts about the game as he is, and in Nettuno, they love the game so much that they hand …

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Excerpt

During a pre­game workout in Nettuno, Italy, Mirko Rocchetti, an infielder with the Peones, arrived at the park carrying a tray of cornetti, brioche, and biscotti. Simone Cancelli (the Natural) followed twenty minutes later with a large box, which he placed on the ledge of the dugout. He lifted the lid, pulled back a layer of crepe paper, and revealed a small mountain of fresh croissants, their light, flaky shells embossed with vanilla crema. A few minutes later Francesco “Pompo” Pompozzi, the Peones’ twenty­one­year­old fireballer, produced two green bottles filled with sugar­soaked espresso, and passed out little white plastic cups. Ricky Viccaro (Solid Gold) — who looked, as always, as if he were standing in front of a wind machine — showed up a half­hour into the game, swinging a red Thermos of espresso, which he cracked in the fifth inning and refilled for the beginning of the second game. Someone else placed boxes of sweets on racks above the bench, and they were polished off in no time.

This sugar fiesta was typical for the Peones, Nettuno’s Serie B baseball team. They believed — as did many Italians — that sugar and coffee were all you needed to get you through any game. Andrea Cancelli (the Emperor) munched on energy pills that tasted like tiny soap cakes. At a game in Sardinia, I saw Fabio Giolitti (Fab Julie) pat his rumbling stomach before fetching a box of wafer cookies from his kit bag, which he passed out, two at a time, to his teammates. Then Mirko asked me, “Davide? Are you hungry?” and promptly handed me two panini spread with grape jelly — the Italian athlete’s equivalent of an energy bar. At the same game, Mario Mazza, the Peones’ second baseman, gathered the team excitedly, as if he’d just cracked the opposing team’s sequence of signs, only to pass out packets of sugar he’d swiped from a café. The players poured them down the hatch. I joined in, even though I wasn’t playing, just watching the Peones, the team I’d come to Italy to write about.

I found language as much a cultural divide as the approach to food, though I was able to find my place among the Peones by spouting a combination Italo­Canadian­Baseballese, at the risk of becoming Team Stooge. At times, I wondered whether the boys were asking me questions just to see how I would mangle their mother tongue.

One day, Chencho Navacci, the team’s left­handed reliever, heard me comment that a hit had been “il pollo morto.”

“Tuo pollo?” he asked.

“No, la palla. La palla è il pollo. Il pollo è morto.”

“Okay, okay,” he said, smiling.

“You know, dying quail,” I said, reverting to English.

“?”

“The chicken is dead,” I said, making a high, curving motion with my hand. “The ball — la palla. La palla è il pollo.”

“Il pollo?”

I couldn’t understand why Chencho was so confused. I’d always assumed that dying quail — baseball’s term for a hit that bloops between the infield and the outfield — was one of those universal baseball terms.

“Si! Il pollo è morto!” I repeated.

“Il pollo è morto? Okay, is good!” he said, turning away.

Later, I told Janet, my wife, what had happened at the ballpark.

“La qualia,” she corrected. “You should have said ‘la qualia.’”

“How was I supposed to know they had quail in Italy?”

“What did you think? They have chicken, don’t they?”

“Ya, but quail.”

“Yes, quail. And I don’t think pollo is the right word for chicken. La gallina is how you say chicken. Pollo is what you order in a restaurant.’

Pollo is restaurant chicken?” I said, mortified.

“I think so.”

“So, you mean I was telling Chencho that the ball was like a piece of cooked chicken?”

“Yes, I’m afraid you were.”

“Flying cooked chicken?”

For my first few weeks with the team, I probably sounded like a moron. I regularly confused the word for last with first, and used always instead of never, as in “Speaking good Italian is always the first thing I learn.” I’d also fallen into the embarrassing habit of pronouncing the word penne (the pasta) as if it were pene, the Italian word for penis. But I was excused for saying things like “I’d like my penis with tomatoes and mushroom,” and, to their credit, the team and townsfolk hung with me. After a while, the players must have noticed a pattern in the things I said at practice: dying quail, rabbit ball, hot potato, ducks on the pond, bring the gas, in his kitchen. They probably figured I was just really hungry.

Before leaving Canada for Italy in the spring of 2002, I bound my five bats together with black packing tape. They looked like a wooden bouquet and their heads clacked as I laid them on the airport’s baggage belt: the brown, thirty­four­ounce Harold Baines Adirondack, two new fungo bats, a red Louisville smiting pole, and a vintage Pudge Fisk hurt stick, with Pudge’s signature burnt into the fat of the wood.

My bats and I weren’t alone. There was also my wife, Janet; our two children, Cecilia, a curly­haired two­year­old blabberpuss, and Lorenzo, not ten weeks old; and for the first part of the trip Janet’s mother, Norma.

Other than a curiosity to experience sport unblemished by money, I had a few more reasons for shipping the family off to Italy. First, I love the game of baseball, having committed the last half­decade of summer Sunday evenings to something named the Queen Street Softball League. I am the starting shortstop for a team called the Rebels, originally affiliated with a local brewery, which was both our strength and poison. I spend most games standing on the gravel in my white Converse low­cuts, waiting for some silk­screen print shop worker or bartender or anthropology student or record­store clerk to whale the ball to my feet, providing that no off­leash hound makes for the pitcher’s mound, lovestruck couple promenades through centre field, or rapscallions riding their bmxs rip up the sod in the power alleys, which lie just to the right of the oak tree and slightly to the left of the guy selling weed out of his Dickie Dee ice­cream cart. Still, we compete like heck. As a weekend scrub, I give everything at the plate. I also try my best to keep my feet spread, arse down, and eyes on the ball when fielding ground hops, the way Pee Wee Reese might have. Stats­wise, I’ve hovered around .400 — a modest softball average — year in and out, having effectively learned how to slice a 25-mph spinball just beyond the reach of the guy in the knee brace, who’s swatting a mosquito while trying not to spill his lager.

It’s because of my shortcomings as a ballplayer that I couldn’t possibly have tagged along with an elite, or even semi­elite, pro­level team in Italy. I had briefly flirted with the notion of following around a major league club, but ditched the idea after hearing about Nettuno, which had just the right combination of respectable talent level, rabid fan base, and casual sporting culture to allow a dreamy scrub like me to toss in my glove and wander among them.

Which is to say: they let me.

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