Picks and Pans Review: The Ultimate Baseball Book

UPDATED 10/15/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/15/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Daniel Okrent and Harris Lewine

Has the 1979 baseball season—with its greedy owners and self-important superstars—got you down? Switch off The World Series Show and lose yourself in this sumptuous book. Its beautifully reproduced illustrations range from the Boston Club of 1874 to the 1978 Yankees. The captions are fascinating; of early Negro leagues hero Pop Lloyd, for instance, Hall of Famer Honus Wagner once said, "I am honored to have John Lloyd called the Black Wagner. It is a privilege to have been compared with him." The historical text by David Nemec is compact and informed. There are also nine essays, by, among others, Red Smith, Tom Wicker, critic Wilfrid Sheed and novelist George V. Higgins. Their pieces are mostly delightful, but columnist John Leonard's account of being a Dodger fan, which harps on how liberal he was to cheer black players as a boy, is both self-indulgent and sophomoric; he should have been traded for John Updike. Editors Okrent, a publisher, and Lewine, an art director, have produced an otherwise exemplary book. (Houghton Mifflin, $29.95)

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