Allen Barra
March 16, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Nine Sides of the Diamond: Baseball's Great Glove Men on the Fine Art of Defense

Current Status
In Season
David Falkner
Times Books
Nonfiction, Sports

We gave it an A-

Nine Sides of the Diamond is about the game of baseball you watch but don’t see: the strategy, tactics, and nuances of baseball’s best fielders. (You didn’t know these guys were smart? Maybe you thought it was just a coincidence that more batters hit the ball to Ozzie Smith than any other fielder?) It’s also about the game Falkner never saw: Using eyewitness accounts from the old-timers, he compares dead and living ballplayers, white and Negro leagues. Falkner has a delightful habit of making his point by starting with a straight pitch that, as it begins to come across, takes a wicked curve: ”Any ballplayer says that what the game is about is winning. But the desire to win is a kind of blank slate, to be filled in by a player’s hold on the situation.” A-

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