Picks and Pans Review: Baseball
Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr.; text by Roger Angell
If Howard Cosell ends up doing commentary during the telecasts of baseball's playoffs, turn the sound off immediately. Grab this book and admire the work of two men who know something about baseball, Iooss, now a free-lancer, gained fame taking pictures of pretty women in bathing suits for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, but he is an astute sports photographer, with unfailing instincts for games and the athletes who work at them. Angell, the New Yorker editor and writer, chats about the Iooss photographs included here—133 of them, all in color—with typical style and insight. There is a shot of the crew-cut young Pete Rose in 1964, the waning Henry Aaron in 1974, the self-impressed Reggie Jackson in 1980, an anonymous Little Leaguer in East Orange, N.J. in 1965. These are all pictures a baseball fan can get lost in. Angell and Iooss have a rapport with the game that can be summed up in two examples. One is Angell discussing the sport's unique pace: "It is the sameness and dailiness of baseball—baseball as soap opera—and the next day's resultant boxscores, barely altered standings and statistics, and foolishly refreshed hopes and sharpened anxieties, that confirm both the rarity and sweet familiarity of our old, upspringing keepsake." The archetypal Iooss photograph is of Milwaukee's County Stadium on a June night in 1979. The Brewers are playing Kansas City. The summer twilight is descending; a message on the scoreboard reads "Welcome Third and Franklin Neighborhood Group"; there is a comfortable-looking crowd. It is early in the season; anything is possible. (Abrams, $29.95)
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