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Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,834 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Whether you’re a major league couch potato, life-long season ticket-holder, or teaching game to a beginner, Watching Baseball Smarter leaves no territory uncovered. In this smart and funny fan’s guide Hample explains the ins and outs of pitching, hitting, running, and fielding, while offering insider trivia and anecdotes that will surprise even the most informed viewers of ...more
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published (first published March 27th 2007)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,834 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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Start your review of Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here’s the deal: This book is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
For some of you it will be too technical; for others, it will not tell you anything that you didn’t already know. I can’t predict if you will like it.

I liked it a lot. I really appreciate how Hample (a master of baseball stats) didn’t assume anything about my knowledge except that I wanted to know more. I am not what Hample terms a “serious Geek.” I like to watch baseball (and I can’t tell you how many hundreds of games I’ve seen)
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, baseball
This book meanders through the world of baseball, dropping short anecdotes, statistics, opinions, and other items meant to make you say 'Gee whiz, I didn't know that". This is told with a light touch, mildly humorous throughout. It seems quite similar to a book on baseball I previously read that had been sold at a Hallmark card store. As a baseball fan, I knew or at least was passingly familiar with a large majority of the stories, like why stadiums are different, and why rules are the way they ...more
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This book says that it is aimed at people who know enough about baseball to know what a line-drive is, but not enough to know much more than that, and it pretty much delivers exactly what it claims. I enjoyed reading it - it was fast, full of fun little tid-bits and asides, and as a neophite baseball fan, I finally understood what a squeeze play is and not only what the infield fly rule is but why the rule exists.

That said, about 75% of the information in the book I had already picked up just by
Steven Peterson
The subtitle of this well crafted work: "A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-Experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks." For the first two categories, right on! Geeks are not going to learn a whole lot that they already do not know. That aside, though, this is a nice work.

Examples of what is in some of the chapters: Chapter 2 focuses on "Pitchers and Catchers." The first part of the chapter describes basic pitches (and how they are thrown)--fastball, curveball, slider, change-up, split-finge
Sterrett Family
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: matthew
Matthew: I loved this book! I like this book because it had things like how much time a hitter has to hit a 90+ mph fastball, witch a hitter has 0.40 seconds to decide if he is going to swing or not, and sometimes the has a lot of movement on it. Or when the infield fly rule doesn't count when there is not anyone on base. I think if you just started watching baseball, you should not read this book because you will be really confused on some of the words like slurve witch is a combintion of a sli ...more
Jake Nelson
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for baseball fans!
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent look at the dynamics of baseball. As the title indicates, a helpful book for all levels of knowledge of the game. The book also contains well done graphics. A book I would recommend for the student of the game who wishes to test their knowledge and perhaps learn something new.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very approachable and full of interesting and weird facts about baseball.
Hugo Guzman
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love baseball and like knowing all the nicks and carnies of Americas past time this is the book for you , from all the baseball teams to what the players eat before the game its an in depth of the game behind the game.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review at:

In the last few years, I have become increasingly obsessed with baseball. I love it, but I am definitely an amateur in terms of my understanding of the game. I’ve come to appreciate that baseball is played on many simultaneous levels. There’s the simple movement of the players through the bases, and the strikes and balls and outs. But there’s also strategy in the pitches, the communication between the catchers and pitcher, the simple act of
Mar 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While this book could be good for someone seeking an introduction to baseball culture, especially the unique language, its claim of a professional fan's guide for semi-experts, and deeply serious geeks does not hold up. Two things stand out for me: The Ray Chapman incident, the only player ever to have died from an on field accident. Mr. Hample only addresses the spitball issue, the much bigger story was the use of multiple baseballs following the tragedy. Until then, the use of a single basebal ...more
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
A wealth of information on America's national pastime, but I'd only suggest it for die-hard baseball fans. What I liked about it was its discussion of fielding, pitching, batting and baserunning strategies. I developed an appreciation for baseball managers and players, who have to take into account the most minute details. I would never think that a 2-1 count is the best time to try to a suicide squeeze, or to put a left-handed hitter second in the lineup (because he blocks the catcher's vision ...more
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves the game and is baffled by the terminology TV announcers throw around.
This is a wonderful book for those who are just starting to watch the game as well as for folk who have been enjoying baseball for years. Ever become downright annoyed when the TV announcers use terms like slugging percentage, waivers, rule 5 draft, and fielding percentage? All of those and more are explained in this easy-to-read journey through the National Pasttime. Learn why batters always grab their crotch, why turning a triple play is easier than you might think, and why baseball players ne ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michel by: people who like baseball, not pros tho.
Shelves: games
This book is definitely not for beginners, nor for expert fans.
But for everybody in between, who have watched quite a few games, even scored some, it is a really fun read, full of little nuggetts and anecdotes, and clear explanations (why the infield fly rule, why does it not apply with no one on base?).
And you get to know the lingo, understand the commentators, and feel like you are invited into a close-knitted group (what do you call someone who swings at something that would have been a ball
Apr 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
More for the beginner and casual fans, except for the statistical analysis, which is for math geeks. I'm a big fan of the game, but I don't really care how slugging percentage is calculated. Still, lots of fun facts and factoids, history and answers to things that always made you go 'hmmmmmm'. Highly recommended for spouses and girlfriends of fans, and football and basketball snobs who think baseball is dull. If you think baseball is dull, it's only because you don't know everything that's going ...more
Dec 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice reference book. The basics explained simply, with some history and humor to go along. Explains everything from the the difference between pitches to the reason why baseball players are constantly adjusting their, um...nevermind. Good book.
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-own, sports
I enjoyed the book, though parts of it are a bit over my head (I'm a total neophyte, as Mary Jo can attest). The kind of book I'd like to have at hand during a baseball game (especially on TV, with commentary). ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book! As an avid baseball fan, I enjoyed the insights and "random things to notice" featured in this book. ...more
Jake Kasten
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beisbol
It's hard to give this book an accurate rating. It does not deliver what it advertises - the book has small bits of information that were new to me, but I would hardly put myself at semi-expert, and most certainly not a deeply serious geek. If you went in knowing nothing about baseball, this would be a very handy guide to get you going. It explains a lot of the rules that aren't entirely clear from just watching the game, gives some insight as to what the players are up to, and gives you a fairl ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book to share with my son, who, at age 6, has developed a true affinity for our national pastime. While it is a nice introduction to the sport, explaining many of the very questions my son has had, it is in sore need of an update. First, the rule changes in the 10 years since this book was published have significantly compromised the accuracy of many things Hample covers. I had to laugh when the author took a rather high-minded tone when mentioning that baseball is the only majo ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not bad, but a little dated, and needs some editing

This book provided a lot of good information for me. I’ve been watching baseball for quite some time but feel like I stalled out in knowledge after I learned the basics. Baseball has so many nuances and history, that it’s impossible to know it all. But this book gave me a good jump on things.

I do feel this book wouldn’t make much sense to someone trying to learn baseball from the start. It also wouldn’t be much good for the already-experts.

My on
Ryan Minckler
I really loved how Zack Hample shared his knowledge about the game of baseball with all fans reading. His book talks about different things in a ball game, such as where to stand during BP (batting practice), or where the best seats in the stadium are. He also talks about the MLB (major league baseball) players and where to stand in the stadium if you are looking for a ball.

I enjoyed reading this book because it was written by a baseball "geek". This book was right in my wheelhouse, meaning that
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
This books is has a subtitle that is inaccurate and misleading. There is very precious little here for a serious fan or baseball geek. Having said that, it would probably be a great introduction for someone who did not know the game (such as a perhaps someone moving here from a non baseball culture). There is little depth to the explanations and you'd pick up most what is covered by watching (and enjoying) baseball for a season on the tube. The somewhat dated but more authoritative "New Thinking ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Good Baseball Read For Beginners and Experts

I love watching the ball hawking videos that Zach has done for years now on YouTube and he really has helped me rediscover my love of Baseball. This book helped to answer some of the “advanced” questions that I had about the game, and also reinforce the basics that I already knew. I did knock it down a star because it is dry in a few parts and a bit too technical in others, but overall it is a very worthy read for anyone with an interest in baseball.
Darren Nelson
I listened to this as an audio book. I take issue this the title "A professional fan's guide for beginners, semi-experts, and deeply serious geeks" especially with the semi-expert and geek assertions. I would say this book is best for a beginner or someone not familiar with baseball at all. For anyone else who watches baseball regularly or has played for a long time, I would skip this one. A few anecdotes here or there that I learned, but overall this is best for those unfamiliar with the sport. ...more
Mike Cline
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I confess. I love watching baseball (at least live) but I also am pretty ignorant about the history, traditions, and mechanics of the game. I stopped playing it as a kid after that wild bounce popped me in the face - so I had no real background to go on once I started watching as an adult. I found this gem at the used bookstore and found it very helpful in bringing me up to speed. It is a simple book but covers a lot of different aspects of baseball. I think even for the well seasoned baseball f ...more
Grant Den Herder
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple to read, good primer on the game of baseball. It covers a lot of ground, so it’s almost too much information to take in for a complete newbie. My only complaint is the layout and progression didn’t seem to flow super well; still an enjoyable and informational read.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
More for beginners than fans

The definitions and analysis were geared for beginners. More serious fans should pick a different book. With that said, this is a good starting place for new fans.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very entertaining and easy read. Great introduction to watching/viewing baseball for a beginner. Does not dumb everything down and provides decent insight into baseball statistics. I'm glad I chose this as my first baseball book to read! ...more
Matthew Cholodewitsch
If you watch baseball games regularly and understand what is happening, this book won't give you much more insight. Though it has some great quotes, fun bits of history, and some stranger rules. If you want to watch baseball and understand what is happening, this book will be great for you! ...more
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