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The Physics of Baseball

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  390 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Blending scientific fact and sports trivia, Robert Adair examines what a baseball or player in motion does-and why. How fast can a batted ball go? What effect do stitch patterns have on wind resistance? How far does a curve ball break? Who reaches first base faster after a bunt, a right- or left-handed batter? The answers are often surprising -- and always illuminating.

Paperback, Expanded Third Edition, 192 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1990)
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May 12, 2014 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I read this when I was a kid (of course I did, because it perfectly combined two of my geeky obsessions) but I suspect a fair fraction flew over my head. Now, having studied quite a lot more physics, I can see that it's not really meant to be a popular treatment of the subject, so much as it is a first draft to a thorough technical analysis. As a result, it can be an intimidating read for layfolk, but also a fairly accurate window into how professional physicists attack new research problems.

Larry Hostetler
Jun 08, 2013 Larry Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Would have given it 3.5 if allowed.

Definitely a learned exposition about the physics of baseball. Just enough application and illustration from baseball to keep me reading it even when I got lost in computations and physics formulae.

I was glad to read the physics behind the curve ball and other pitches (like the knuckleball).

Things I learned: a curveball thrown at 70 mph with a normal rpm of 1600 "curves" (the physics term is deflection) of 14.4 inches, most of it in the last 15 feet before c
Jun 21, 2008 Valerie rated it really liked it
Excellent, of course!
Aug 03, 2012 Tiffany rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports, science
When I'd gotten a good chunk of the way into this book, I checked to see what other Goodreaders said about it. It seemed like everybody thought it was wonderful, and I wondered if maybe I was on crack, because I didn't like it. Now that I've finished it, and still didn't find it any better, I looked at the reviews again and this time saw a few 2-star ratings. Okay, I'm not the only one. But when I looked at *why* people gave it 2 stars, I felt like a loner again -- most of the reviews that I qui ...more
Jul 15, 2012 David rated it really liked it
The Physics of Baseball is about what it sounds like: physics, as applied to baseball, and how it affects the game. It should be pretty obvious from the title whether this would appeal to you. There's no real surprise here.

The book starts with a model for the flight of the ball through the air, then covers batting (including biology: how batters perceive incoming pitches and make decisions based on them, and how far a ball can go), pitching (including various types of pitches, how they're used,
Zach Foster
Nov 09, 2015 Zach Foster rated it liked it
Robert Adairs book Physics of Baseball makes you realize how much baseball is actually a game of inches. From the beginning to the end of the book Robert Adair will explain to you how much little things affect the game itself.

The novel The Physics of Baseball is about physicist from Yale, Robert K. Adair and his experiment into finding the motions of a baseball during a baseball game. He wrote this book to his friend Bart Giamatti to explain all of the physics that actually go into the sport of
Cj Saxe
Nov 24, 2014 Cj Saxe rated it it was ok
The novel The Physics of Baseball Is about physicist Robert K. Adair and his experiment into finding the motions of a baseball during a baseball game. The novel mentions three particular motions during the game of baseball. The first motion is hitting, which is about when to swing the bat to hit the ball to different parts of the field.
The second motion is pitching,which is when the pitcher throws the ball to the batter. The final motion is fielding,after the batter makes contact with the bal
Nov 18, 2015 Ryan added it
The physics of baseball is a deeper look into one of America’s favorite pastimes. It shows you the science of multiple parts of baseball. A couple of these are the physics of the ball and the physics of the bat.
It doesn't just explain the physics of the equipment to play. It also covers swinging the bat, pitching, and fielding. This book covers all of the major parts of baseball in a scientific way.
An example of these are “... the drag force increases with velocity; i.e., the difference in pr
Dec 10, 2009 Kent rated it it was ok
This was a gift from Jacki years ago. It is a physics textbook, at least in the early going. However, I have a new policy that I will finish a book that I start, no matter how long, boring or tough.

We'll see if he ever talks about baseball and stops talking about Magnus forces and Navier-Stokes differential equations to describe fluid flow around a curving baseball.

Nope, it never really talked about anything but physics. It needed more humor, more anecdotes or more theoretical scenarios where th
Jun 20, 2013 Randal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any baseball fan
Shelves: nonfiction, baseball
A slim, fairly technical read, this book lets you cast a scientific eye over many baseball discussions (e.g. "rising fastball" = myth).
Some of the proofs, like the discussion about curveballs, have since been largely superseded by high-speed digital photography (the .gif of Yu Darvish throwing five pitches with one motion is mind-blowing.)
But it's still one of the most original books on baseball in the past 30 years and deserves a spot on any serious fan's bookshelf.
Dec 07, 2010 Thom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author does physics modeling right, always conscious of error, weighing the statements of the players themselves. Near the end he dips into statistics, and for that I'd rather read Bill James.

A thorough discussion of several topics for pitching and hitting. The difference stitching makes on pitched and batted balls. Solid reasons why the singles hitter has a high average and the power hitter doesn't. Ends up just dipping into altered (corked) bats; would love to read more modern research int
Jan 15, 2009 Ben rated it liked it
It is pretty much what the title says--a look at the physics behind baseball. It's interesting, but not quite as accessible as I think the author intended. At least, it was a bit challenging for me. But that could just be me. Also, he devotes a majority of the time to batting, and the physics of batting, which is interesting, but spends less time on pitching, which is the part I found more interesting. Or at least wanted more insight into.
Jun 17, 2008 Justin rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball
It was too flippant about the baseball and the physics, and confused "few words" with "explained for novices" too often. I'd be more interested in seeing some of these arguments extended, and in seeing them done more fully (ie, a look at the drop in a curveball, and not just the horizontal movement).
Feb 12, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing
Forthcoming, but I love this book and would recommend it to anyone who ever played the game and continued to enjoy it in spite of its implicate ego-adjustments in the downward direction. No need to grasp the physics equations per se as the author lays them down between wonderful explanations. It's another ash tent post in a defense of a guilty pleasure.
Aug 08, 2007 Bilgewater rated it really liked it
This was a very easy read - I read it in about an hour at the bookstore and was surprised to find it was quite interesting. Like baseball? Like Physics? Then this is your book to read in your hammock wearing nothing but boxer shorts and sipping an umbrella drink. You will feel smarter after reading it; promise.
Seelochan Beharry
Mar 21, 2016 Seelochan Beharry rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book for those of us in science or interested in the science of baseball. As a coach of youth baseball "The Physics of Baseball" helps to explain the science involved in so many aspects of the game. I read the library's copy, then went and get one for myself to use. Have been recommending this book to coaches and players.
Sep 09, 2007 Hillary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cant say there was anything in this book I didnt already know about physics. Even if I didnt have a degree in physics the book would have been really basic reading. And after all the reading and the questions I was looking forward to having answers to the book never concluded anything. The Myth Busters baseball special (while flawed itself) was more informative.
Aug 17, 2008 Marlon rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I got this book from one of my roommates in college. As you would expect from the title, it's a different and interesting way of looking at baseball, strictly from the physics sense. If you're interested in the "underground science" of baseball, then this book is for you.
Claire S
Maybe will have this be my first getting-back-into-Physics-for-first-time book, now that my daughter is approaching a year of it.. Since I sorta like baseball also.
Sep 21, 2011 Jack rated it really liked it
Perfect elasticity, 10% effect of Coors Field and 20/15 vision to pick up the bite of a curve. All things that are possible for some, but thought experiments for me, brought to life by this book.
Drew Crownover
Dec 28, 2014 Drew Crownover rated it really liked it
If you're a baseball nerd and a science nerd, this is a must-have. It's not basic-level physics, but it's not graduate-level, either. Must have some understanding of physics.
May 03, 2010 Osborneinri rated it it was ok
Interesting science, but it can't explain the beauty of a well-executed hit and run or why I could never hit a slider.
Now I have an increased comprehension of what is occurring during the fractions of seconds during a baseball play or pitch.
Aug 13, 2007 Adam rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
This book is worthwhile but a little too hard for me to understand. Written by a physicist who got interested in baseball by trying to see how the sport works.
carl  theaker
Mar 07, 2010 carl theaker rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sportz

One of those books you get for your birthday because you're a baseball fan.
A good one to delve into the mathematics of the game.
Ryan Dilbert
It takes a specific kind of nerd to enjoy this (e.g. me) Someone who is into baseball and thinks reading about air resistance and drag forces and the flight paths of curveballs is interesting.
Feb 10, 2008 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this bored the hell out of me. i wish that wasn't true because i love both baseball and physics but... it is what it is.
Jun 28, 2007 Kathy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: science and baseball fans.
I started out as a physics major in college, so this book was a natural for me. Warning -- if you didn't like science in school, this probably isn't the book for you.
Camden Drash
Jul 07, 2010 Camden Drash rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
Too wordy. I wanted diagrams, charts, etc. Not all that fun to read if you don't have a strong physics background.
Michael P. Fertig
Michael P. Fertig rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2007
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