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The Inside Track

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February 04, 2003|John Scheibe

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "Baseball: A Literary Anthology."

Editor: Nicholas Dawidoff.

Publisher: The Library of America.

Price: $35.

*

This excellent collection of writing on baseball, from some of America's most renowned sportswriters, novelists, poets and essayists, is like having a library at your fingertips. Nicholas Dawidoff, who has written several books including "The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg," has put together a 715-page book that has something for every baseball fan.

The anthology's all-star lineup of authors includes Damon Runyon, Carl Sandberg, James Thurber, Jimmy Cannon, Gay Talese, Jim Bouton, Roger Angell, Stephen King and Jimmy Breslin, with gems from Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Frost, Philip Roth, and many more.

The book hits home runs with stories ranging from the well known to the obscure, from the serious to the humorous. Especially noteworthy are Talese's "The Silent Season of a Hero," about Joe DiMaggio; Roger Kahn on Branch Rickey from "The Boys of Summer"; Roy Hobbs striking out The Whammer in "The Natural," by Bernard Malamud; World Series columns by Red Smith; and a look at the game from the perspective of the legendary Bill Veeck.

Also entertaining are profiles of Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson; Act One, Scene One from the Broadway musical hit "Damn Yankees" by James T. Farrell; and an excerpt from Robert Creamer's "Stengel: His Life and Times".

This book is a keeper and baseball fans will treasure it throughout the season and beyond.

-- John Scheibe

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