Reader up: Make this year one for the baseball books


April 24, 1994|By Molly Dunham Glassman | Molly Dunham Glassman,Sun Staff Writer

The book report is due in four days. It's sunny out, Little League practice has started and the last thing you want to do is stay inside and read a book.

But you don't want to repeat third grade with Mrs. McGillicuddy, so you'd better get cracking. If you like baseball, chances are a book about baseball will be a lot more interesting than, say, a book about quiche.

Here are a couple of paperbacks that will cost less than two grilled hot dogs at Camden Yards. Both are Sports Illustrated for Kids Books, published by Bantam Books. They cost $3.50 each (the grilled hot dogs are $4 a pop).

* Fans who want to learn baseball history will like "Seventh Inning Stretch: Time-Out for Baseball Trivia" by Brad Herzog. It starts at the beginning of baseball and goes through to the present, wrapping up with Jim Abbott's no-hitter on Sept. 4, 1993.

You find out why Walter Johnson was famous -- known as "Big Train," he pitched the Washington Senators to the World Series title in 1924 -- and how Fred "Bonehead" Merkle got his name.

There are black-and-white photos (most of them are blurry) and short biographies of well-known players, including Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente. And you can learn how to figure out batting averages and earned run averages.

* If you're into strategy, check out "You Call the Play: Baseball, Catcher in Command" by Peter Strupp. It's kind of like playing a video game without the joystick, speakers and monitor. But it's still fun, in an old-fashioned way.

You are the Kid, a rookie catcher with the Blue Sox. When the manager gets sick, you have to run the team in its game against the Barons.

There are rosters, with stats and scouting reports on each player's strengths and weaknesses. The game begins, and you have to make lots of decisions. For example, there are runners at first and third with one out, and you have two choices: a suicide squeeze or a fake bunt.

The runner on third, Denny Hill, is the slowest on the team. If you try the suicide squeeze, the book tells you to turn to Page 16. There you find out that Hill gets tagged out. If you try the fake bunt, the book says to turn to Page 22. There you find out that after squaring to bunt, the batter swings away and lines a hit through the gap.

All the strategies are explained in a simple way. When you're done with this book, you can impress your friends by saying things such as, "The Orioles should go for the delayed double steal here," and "Watch -- they're putting on the rotation play."

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