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Book Reviews

How Baseball Works

by Keltie Thomas, Greg Hall, illus.

With spring here and the thoughts of young sports fans turning to baseball, Toronto writer Keltie Thomas and illustrator Greg Hall (creators of How Hockey Works) move from the ice to the diamond with How Baseball Works. The emphasis here is on the science at the heart of baseball.

There is a lot of material on why pitches such as curveballs, sliders, and rising fastballs actually move through the air the way they do, as well as how a hitter imparts force to a ball to knock it out of the park, and how equipment innovations like better gloves and chest protectors have made the game safer. But Thomas also looks at other scientific factors – like physiology and human kinetics (the most efficient way to swing a bat), optics (how an outfielder follows a fly ball through the air), as well as the fundamentals of diet and effective warmup exercises.

Complementing all this science is a winning combination of Hall’s illustrations and photos of some of the game’s great players, demonstrating the key concepts explained in the text. These graphical elements add interest to the dry science that can sometimes overwhelm young readers in books like this, as well as providing excellent historical perspective. While many young baseball fans today will no doubt be familiar with contemporary athletes like Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux, it’s nice to see old-time greats such as Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, and Walter Johnson portrayed right alongside them. As well, photos of many young non-pro players are included. How Baseball Works is a lively combination of hard information and game lore that puts a fun spin on the science of baseball.