THE 34-TON BAT                                         STEVEN RUSHIN
Posted:  Feb. 24, 2014

The 34-Ton Bat by Steve Rushin  An unorthodox history of baseball told through the enthralling stories of the game's objects, equipment, and characters.

No sport embraces its wild history quite like baseball, especially in memorabilia and objects. Sure, there are baseball cards and team pennants. But there are also huge balls, giant bats, peanuts, cracker jacks, eyeblack, and more, each with a backstory you have to read to believe. In THE 34-TON BAT, Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin tells the real, unvarnished story of baseball through the lens of all the things that make it the game that it is.

Rushin weaves these rich stories--from ballpark pipe organs played by malevolent organists to backed up toilets at Ebbets Field--together in their order of importance (from most to least) for an entertaining and compulsive read, glowing with a deep passion for America's Pastime. The perfect holiday gift for casual fans and serious collectors alike, THE 34-TON BAT is a true heavy hitter.

This is a baseball book about all of the items that go along with the game. Like gloves, men before the 1900s did not use gloves they used their bare hands. This did not change until the early 1900s and even then there still were a few men who still thought it was being a weakling for using them. The same goes for the gear catcher’s use first the face mask then the chest protectors and chin guards. This went for the umpires as well. The book goes into detail from the people who came up with the design and then into the company that came out with the product. Very few if any made money off any of their ideas the ones who had been able to patent their idea and then sell it to an up and coming sporting good company or one man that made baseball bats actually was made part owner of the company because of his craftsmanship. The book goes into how rules were changed and how one young boy took the New York Giants to court because he was arrested for not returning a foul ball. The judge ruled he could keep the ball since it went into the stands and ordered the Giants to pay a fine for having the young boy spending a night in jail. Another story is about batting helmets and at first they were thought of back in 1921 the year after Roy Chapman was killed by a pitch. But after a few years it really never came up again. One argument at the time was that if they had helmets the batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9 would put his head in front of the pitch in order for the winning run to cross the plate. I can’t see that happening. There are many facts like these plus he talks about when concessions started and a few of those men really cleaned up with the ball parks being so close together. The ones I liked were Fredrick Rueckhiem and his brother Luis who created cracker jacks in 1893. And a vaudevillian singer named Jack Norworth who wrote take me out to the ball game. He never even had been to a ball game yet wrote a great baseball song. I really enjoyed this book, made me think of my father when he said as a kid he could remember the smell of roasted peanuts with the cuttings of fresh cut grass. And my grandfather making my first bat on his lathe in his garage and hand sanding it, listening to his old stories. That was the connection we used to have with the sport, which is why I liked this book.

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LET’S WELCOME BARBARA HANNAY AUTHOR OF: Rad-Reader:  How did the whole Outback Brides series start? ...