Three things got me fired up for the new baseball season this week: seeing my neighbor and his son play catch, buying a pack of sunflower seeds, and reading this book. K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches is exactly what I love about the game, the stories. Kepner relays the building of relationships through the teaching of the game. From their origins to the highlights, these ten pitches have been passed down and evolved from one thrower to the next.
Kepler details the purpose of each pitch, the mechanics of throwing, and game strategies of use. All the greats are called on to demonstrate: Ryan, Carlton, Paige, Johnson (Randy and Walter), Young (Cy and Curt), Bumgarner, Quisenbury, and many more. The lines are aplenty. i.e. Catfish Hunter could ‘hit a gnat on the ass.’ Through hundreds of interviews and exhaustive research, Kepler dives deep into the lore of the game.
Ok, let’s play a little word association. What kind of memories or thoughts did each section remind me of or teach me about? Strategy: location, movement, velocity
The Slider: Purpose off fastball.
The Fastball: The pitch all others come from.
The Curveball: An old favorite with a new spin.
The Knuckleball: The Fraternity of Flutter.
The Split: Risk/ Reward?
The Screwball: Fernando Mania.
The Sinker: ‘The furthest strike from the hitter’s eye.’
The Change-Up: Bugs Bunny.
The Spitball: Use whatever you can to gain an edge.
The Cutter: Unpredictable and Late.
Because isn’t this exactly what you want from a book like this? Learn a little new stuff and remind yourself again about why you love the game!
Yes, there a little of this ‘new baseball’ in the book: Exit velo. Spin rate. Launch angle. But most importantly, there are the stories. We all know that the game is changing… that the power game has changed the movement game… and thus the complete game. Yet, it is stories, the anecdotes, and the yarns… like the ones in K that keep us coming back.
I’m not going to remember the spin rate of the curveball that struck out the last hitter to win the world series, but I will remember the story of how he learned to throw that pitch.
5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Edelweiss, Doubleday Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.