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The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects
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The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects

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3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  265 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
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 y
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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P.e. lolo
Feb 23, 2014 P.e. lolo rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Al Young
Aug 30, 2014 Al Young rated it liked it
There's a certain popular concept right now in nonfiction which is to tell a history of something through objects related to it. I don't know if this really fits that description but it is a good way to tell some interesting and rarely told stories.

I saw this and thought it looked fun, and there is a lot of great trivia here and even stuff the biggest baseball fan won't know. It's also such an unusual and assorted collection of stories that it wouldbe interesting to non-sports fans as well.

My bi
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Heather Jacks
Dec 30, 2013 Heather Jacks rated it it was amazing
If ever you wondered; how jock straps came about, or where did Bobble-Heads come from, or what’s up with that four fingered glove at AT&T Park; then Steve Rushin’s book, The 34-Ton Bat, is for you. It is the history of baseball, told through the evolution of the objects and oddities—(375 of them, to be exact) that make baseball, America’s pastime.

Steve Rushin has been writing for Sports Illustrated for over 25 years, and has accumulated a few awards along the way, including National Sportswr
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Chad
Jan 23, 2014 Chad rated it really liked it
I have always been a fan of Rushin's writing style; Rushin had a regular column in S.I. that he left about five years ago and I was as disappointed then as I was excited when he returned as one of the rotation of last page editorial columnists after Rick Reilly went to ESPN.

So, imagine my delight when this combined three of my favorite things: his writing, baseball and history.

It did not disappoint. I love books that rely heavily on careful archival research and take us back to a different time.
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Kevin Payne
Jul 19, 2016 Kevin Payne rated it liked it
Lots of interesting stories and historical facts. For a long time bats were not standardized - Nap Lajoie used a bat with two knobs, one several inches above the end of the bat. Jackie Price, a minor league player could hang from a miniature trapeze take batting practice upside down and hit to all fields. He could also hold three balls in one hand and pitch them to three different catchers, or throw two balls at once, one a fastball, one a curve, or throw two balls from the catchers position wit ...more
Drew
Mar 14, 2014 Drew rated it really liked it
This is a totally different perspective on the history of baseball. I love the in-depth background on the history of baseball equipment, and how every piece of equipment and ephemera surrounding the game plays a part in how baseball developed over time. The way that the chapters are organized are very well done as well, as each chapter takes a major item (bat, glove, souvenirs, etc.) and tells how that item evolved over the course of the game’s development, and how that item changed the game ...more
Kelly
Dec 25, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I received this book free through Goodreads.

I have been a cubs fan since my father was able to bring me to Wrigley Field, so I grew up on baseball and was thrilled to read this book. It was very interesting and unique and told amazing and strange stories about the American sport my family loves. I read a lot of it aloud with my father and he was equally enthralled and truly enjoyed the book. It is a great book to read together with fellow baseball fans, whether that be family, friends or coworke
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Chris
Jan 28, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
I prefer books that flow seamlessly. This, on the other hand, is a bunch of brief anecdotes.

The author does do a good job transitioning from one idea to the other. But the constant shifting bothered me. To further shake things up, he switched from general baseball anecdotes to his own personal stories about the game. He also seemed fixated on the pre-1957 New York baseball teams, and I wish he would've put more focus on the other 27 teams on the league.

It's fine for toilet reading, but this boo
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Dave
Jan 04, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing
A wonderful offbeat history of baseball. Essentially the book told the story the game through the development of the equipment and other "sacred items of baseball". You learn of the development of the baseball mitt, bobblehead dolls, why beer is not sold in bottles, and much more. The author in a fun way tells of the way baseball evolved, not only as it was played on the field but how the game was enjoyed in the stands
Ron
Nov 01, 2013 Ron rated it did not like it
I was very disappointed with this book, which had much potential. The writing is poor, and at times sappy. Rushin seems to have trouble staying on a topic with consistency, as he rambles here and there. He also has an odd (negative) obsession with the Bush family, telling us multiple times that George W owned the Rangers (once was enough for those that didn't know), and ranting about his policies. I wanted to read a light book about baseball, not a political diatribe.
Chris Dean
Jan 25, 2014 Chris Dean rated it it was amazing
It's not often that I find myself repeating parts of what I read to my family, but I did that quite a few times with this book. Whether it was Pete Browning, Bill Doak, Danny Goodman, Barney Doyle, or Gladys Goodding, this book was loaded with "I never knew that" moments even for the most knowledgeable baseball fans. You will not be disappointed with this book in the least. By far, one of the better baseball books I have read in quite some time.
Mark Simon
Nov 10, 2013 Mark Simon rated it really liked it
The history of baseball as told through objects, though think more ballpark organs and batting helmets than baseball memorabilia.

Good book, though among Rushin's work, I'd give "Road Trip" a higher (very high) recommendation.

This one moves a little slower and is more interesting in some parts than others ... I would say a hard-core historian will enjoy this book more than the average baseball fan.
Brad
Jan 20, 2014 Brad rated it liked it
My wife won this book in a goodreads giveaway. She gave it to me as a Christmas gift. I really liked the historical information about the game of baseball. Many of the stories were interesting and fun. I just felt like the book was all over the place. It bounced around a lot going from one storyline to another and then back again. If you are a fan of baseball it is definitely worth the read!!
Tyler
Jun 08, 2016 Tyler rated it it was ok
I'm a huge baseball fan. I've been a huge fan of Steve Rushin's writing in Sports Illustrated. This book satisfied both those interests and its downfall may have been that I approached it as a series of vignettes rather than collected wisdom. Despite pulling from some obscure shadows of baseball's cavernous annals, Rushin still somehow ties them together -- without much of a stretch -- by the book's end.
Lud
Oct 31, 2013 Lud rated it really liked it
I love Steve Rushin's writing (except, oddly, I did not like his fiction book The Pint Man). He is one of the many brilliant Sports Illustrated essayists/writers. Now he is back to his strength -- non-fiction writing, meticulously researched and hilariously written. Warning, if you do not like baseball, you will probably not like this, despite the excellence of the writing. Me, well, I like baseball, and I liked this!
Kenn Staub
Jan 01, 2015 Kenn Staub rated it liked it
An interesting take on baseball history...the story of the game as told through various items of equipment, memorabilia, food, etc. Though it covers a lot of familiar ground I did find several nuggets of information I had never encountered before. The main problems with this book were the author's rambling style and his attempts to be too cute with his humor. Overall a unique perspective on the games past.
Exapno Mapcase
Dec 30, 2013 Exapno Mapcase rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is a Goodreads First Reads review.

Want to go to a baseball museum without leaving home? Then get this book. This is a wonderful trip down memory lane with each chapter reflecting a different aspect of baseball. From the balls to uniforms, to safety equipment, that profiles a very interesting man. The transitions between the stories are almost seamless and lend a wonderful narrative to the tales.
Brandi
Dec 23, 2013 Brandi rated it it was amazing
I won this book from Goodreads. I liked this book and thought it was a great source for baseball-related trivia! I've always liked bobble-heads, so it was interesting to read how these and other items related to the sport came to be. I found this book to be filled with quite interesting little factoids!
I also love it when writers, especially of non-fiction or narrative-pieces, incorporate humor into their books like Mr. Steve Rushin did in this work.
Spiros
Nov 05, 2013 Spiros rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for an entertaining view of baseball artifacts
Shelves: arc, beisbol
A nice, friendly overview of baseball's artifacts and inventions, obviously including balls, bats, and gloves, but also exploring concessions, scorecards, and bobble heads. Breezy, somewhat informative, and inconsequential: there is an annoying tone of facetiousness that pervades the book, which is inevitable when exploring the subject.
Kathy
Jun 04, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Great stories (both personal and historical) of Baseball!!!!!! I rate this book as the same caliber as "The Summer of Beer and Whiskey" by Edward Achorn!!! Steve Rushin shares family stories and great details of baseball's history, from teams and their owners to fields and their bathroom facilities!!! I loved this book!!!
Dustin Gaughran
May 26, 2014 Dustin Gaughran rated it really liked it
Consider this a peripheral history of baseball. It was a fun, unique way of looking at baseball's history through the objects and tools that have defined the game. Definitely an enjoyable baseball book.
Du
Dec 19, 2014 Du rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It was a good read, but not great. It has some interesting facts and some interesting stories, but overall it wasn't the resource book I was hoping for. It was just so so. I didn't see enough to make me want to savor it.
Virginia Madrid
Dec 02, 2014 Virginia Madrid rated it it was amazing
Shelves: won
This book is chalk full of fun facts! I absolutely enjoyed every word of it, including the facts listed on the bookmark that came with it! The only thing I want to point out is that it is a paperback (not listed), still amazing though! Great work!
Dwight Koslowski
Feb 25, 2016 Dwight Koslowski rated it it was amazing
Easily the best book about the items surrounding our game. There are subjects handled in this book that I've never read about in any other baseball related book. I'm recommending this book to all those that have an interest in the surroundings of the game.
Joann
May 13, 2014 Joann rated it really liked it
I won this book through a First Reads giveaway. This is a very detailed, interesting look at the history behind baseball items. I found myself saying to my husband, "Did you know..." and "Listen to this..." It was an enjoyable read, especially during baseball season.
Tommy Carlson
Jun 06, 2014 Tommy Carlson rated it really liked it
Entertaining book about baseball stuff. Not just a list of oddball [heh] baseball trivia, it has a nice cohesive flow that takes you through several aspects of the physical objects surrounding the game.
Brian Pelletier
Feb 05, 2014 Brian Pelletier rated it it was amazing
For anyone who with a wealth of baseball knowledge, it provides completely new information, which was never previously considered in the evolution of baseball. This was a fascinating book, which I hated to see end.
Arthur Davis
Apr 06, 2014 Arthur Davis rated it really liked it
This is a good book for anyone interested in baseball. Tells things from the beginning of the game to present day.
Greg
Jul 02, 2014 Greg rated it it was amazing
Sooooooo much fun! Even if you only like baseball a little bit you will love this book. Rushin is such a clever writer! It's a joy to be invited into his head. This book is a blast!!
Ben
Mar 01, 2014 Ben rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
While it had interesting parts (and I did learn a few things about the game), I did find myself bored during some points.
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After graduating from Bloomington Kennedy High School in 1984 and Marquette University in 1988, Rushin joined the staff of Sports Illustrated. Over the next 19 years, he filed stories from Greenland, India, Indonesia, the Arctic Circle and other farflung locales, as well as the usual nearflung locale to which sportswriters are routinely posted.

His first novel, The Pint Man, was published by Doubl
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