Sunday, June 07, 2009

Going Deep

Abner Doubleday's evil scheme is finally exposed. Slate reviews Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities 1862-2007 (Robert M. Gorman/David Weeks) in "You're Out."

I wonder if anyone watching baseball ever died of boredom?

...Given the fetish for statistics in baseball, it was probably inevitable that someone would get around to recording this, too: the number of people baseball has rendered incapable of generating more statistics

...They chronicled 850 baseball deaths in Death at the Ballpark, spanning professional, amateur, Little League, and even backyard pickup games. And though the book purports to be comprehensive, readers have already tipped them off to about 50 incidents they missed.

The authors say their aim was to "raise awareness" about baseball's many dangers, but there aren't any recommendations for making the sport safer here, no real signs of impassioned outrage, and no warnings to suburban parents about aluminum bats. Death at the Ballpark is fundamentally a reference book—a list carefully organized into categories like "Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Position Players" and "Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Baserunners." Often, however, the authors pause for a half-page to narrate a death in noirlike detail. The opening paragraph of one entry ominously begins, "Patrick J. McTavey, 38, worked home plate during a heated semipro championship game on Long Island, NY, on September 26, 1927," and ends: "It was the last call he ever made."

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