Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Baseball - It's More Than Just a Game (2014)

By Greg Lucas

Take it from a former co-worker of Greg Lucas - the man loves baseball.

We worked together at a radio station, and Greg was happiest when he was broadcasting Buffalo Bisons' games. The games were played in something of a funhouse, as War Memorial Stadium had some bizarre dimensions, but the games were never boring. You could tell then that Greg would like nothing more than to be around the game full-time.

A couple of stops later, he did that. Lucas worked on the broadcasts of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. That eventually got him into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

There are other ways to stay connected to baseball, of course, and Lucas has found one of them. His first book, "Baseball: It's More Than Just a Game," is now out. It's worth a look.

The subtitle of the book sort of sounds like something that could be a segment on a television broadcast. Sure enough, Lucas did do a long-running TV segment called "Tales of the Game." They included bits of odd history about baseball, based partly on questions from viewers. It's an easy jump from there to the book.

The publication is loosely broken into categories, such as equipment, hitters, pitchers, first, stadiums, the minor leagues, etc. Each chapter is organized into bite-sized portions, which go down quickly and easily. This actually isn't as easy as it sounds. Take it from a guy who wrote a book last year with a similar format - it takes a lot of research to come up with so many individual bits. I'm happy to report that I didn't spot any obvious historical errors here. Lucas obviously discovered that the 19th century was a fruitful place to look for bizarre stories and the sport's beginnings.

It checks in at just over 200 pages, so reading it is not a major project. There are some good, historic pictures passed along the way too. Lucas adds a few other photos from his personal collection. The writing is fine - clear and concise. Sometimes regional book publishers can make a book look a little amateurish at times, but Chart House Press did a good job in that department.

If there's a surprise here, it's that Lucas resists the temptation to make some of the stories a bit more personal. Yes, it opens with his early memories of the game and has some other anecdotes of a personal nature. Otherwise, this could have been written by any baseball author just about anywhere. That means, of course, that you don't have to be a fan of the Rangers or Astros to like this book. It ought to work about for just about anyone anywhere who enjoys reading about some off-beat elements of the game. Lucas is said to be working on a second book; maybe that one will be more personal.

I'm not going to give this a rating because of my personal connection to the author. I'm pretty confident that baseball fans of all types were learn a few things by reading this, and enjoy the material that they already committed to their memory banks.

Learn more about this book.

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