April 7, 2002
Review: “Baseball for Everyone”
by Steve Lombardi
In 1948, Joe DiMaggio (with the assistance of New York sportswriter Tom Meany) authored “Baseball for Everyone – A Treasury of Baseball Lore and Instruction for Fans and Players.”
The McGraw-Hill Companies has now reissued this best-selling classic for a new generation of baseball fans.
“Baseball for Everyone” is a quick, pleasurable, and educational read.
In the book’s beginning, DiMaggio offers commentary and information on the game at all levels - the small details that make absolute sense, but which could easily be forgotten or overlooked, are well documented.
Such as the advice under (the chapter) “Baseball For Everyone” – “Provide a youngster with comfortable, well-fitting shoes” as “He spends far more time on the field than any professional in any single game, as much as five hours at a stretch.”
Other sound observations from DiMaggio on the various levels of baseball play that should never be disregarded include:
Sand Lot and Semipro – “Whether a player is a boy in his teens or an adult who has made the majors, he has room for improvement, and his three chief ways of learning better baseball are through good instruction, personal observation, and intelligent questions.”
The Minors – “It’s certainly no picnic to live in the minors, but the player who comes up that way not only has proved himself in professional competition, but has shown he loves the game deeply enough to accept the toughest sort of existence to reach the top.”
The Majors – “One of the most important achievements of a young baseball career is to impress the manager well the first time up.”
However, these are only snapshot quotes. To benefit fully from what DiMaggio offers, one must digest the entire chapters covering the Sand Lots, Semipro, Minors and Majors.
Similarly, “Baseball for Everyone” describes in great extent the technicalities of playing each position, hitting, pitching, and base running. Each has its own chapter. Again, DiMaggio points out the fine and requisite elements (which comprise the big picture) on each topic. For example:
One caveat on the facets which “Baseball for Everyone” offers on playing each position: If you are someone who has watched fifteen hundred or more baseball games and has gained some level of astuteness for the game (albeit even through osmosis), you may find these chapters of “Baseball for Everyone” (while thorough and all inclusive) to be somewhat elementary.
That said, conversely, if you were learning the game of baseball and how it should be played, you would not find a better instructional guide than “Baseball for Everyone.” It is the blueprint for manning the diamond success.
“Baseball for Everyone” nears close with chapters on “Coaching and Signs” and “Slumps” which also offer great advice such as:
“Keen eyesight is an essential to a coach as it is to a hitter” and “The emotional progress of a slump is approximately as follows: simple wonder, prolonged bewilderment, dawning realization, horror, grim determination, helpless rage, self-pity, relaxation, cure.”
Red Barber ends the book with a humorous and special chapter on “How to Score” (“The only important thing about keeping score is that the scorer himself must be able to read his scorecard back, a week or a year later”).
Approaching “Baseball for Everyone,” I must confess that I began with the attitude of “Let’s see how out of date this book is - being authored 54 years ago.” Much to my surprise, I found very little which is now useless. Most of the presently non-applicable references refer to the structure of baseball (for example, a reference to “Class D” ball in the minors) as it was in 1948. In fact, DiMaggio’s “game” references stand true today just as they did a half-century ago.
Peter Golenbock writes in the book’s foreword “The book is also a time capsule in a way, because the advice and anecdotes come from long-gone baseball legends.” This is true. It is another reason why “Baseball for Everyone” enjoyable and informative.
NetShrine.com recommends “Baseball for Everyone.” It is an excellent primer for the learning player and an engaging book for the seasoned fan.
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