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The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches
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The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  243 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
The holy grail, the fountain of youth, the golden fleece, and the baseball: rarely do objects inspire such madness. The Baseball is a salute to the ball, filled with insider trivia, anecdotes, and generations of ball-induced insanity.  
Which Hall of Famer once caught a ball dropped from an airplane?
Why do balls get stamped with invisible ink?
What’s the best ticket to buy
Paperback, 356 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2011)
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Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
UPDATE - 7/16/2015

If you read my original review, infra, then you already know that Zack Hample is not on my Christmas card list. I am updating to let you know that while many of you do not believe in GOD, I, at least, believe heartily in the God of Symmetry. Symmeteria, I think the Greeks called her. And Symmeteria has spoken. Douchebags of the world, unite!

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Not a book about baseball; a book about THE BASEBALL. Ok, so it necessarily is about baseball, too, but this i
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
one would think, perhaps, with all the many thousands of books written about baseball over the decades (now centuries?), there would be little to add in the way of novelty or insight regarding the greatest game ever devised by man. zack hample's new book, the baseball: stunts, scandals, and secrets beneath the stitches, however, would prove one were mistaken in such a presumption. behind the history, the rivalries, and the legends of the game is the often overlooked object that makes it all poss ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I would dearly love to give this book two reviews, in large part because it is two different books poorly smashed together.

The first two parts (or, the first 200 pages) are a historical look at the baseball - the object itself, rather than the sport that it shares a name with. Sure, you can't separate the two, but at the same time, the importance of the physical baseball can be easily overlooked. Going back to the days when baseballs were valuable enough that it was written into the league rules
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, nonfiction, sports
Right away, if you aren't a baseball fan and at least somewhat knowledgeable about the game, skip this book. If you're still reading this review, know that the book is not about the game, its about the ball. That's right - the baseball. Zack Hample is what's known as a 'ballhawk'. That's a fan (almost always guys), who try to catch, snag, or otherwise acquire major league baseballs during games, spring training, batting practice, and so on. Some of the die-hards, including Hample, have acquired ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
I like to think that I know a lot about Baseball and I do. But I don't know everything. The history of the game is well over 100 years old and is next to impossible to know everything out there about the game. This is the reason why I gave The Baseball a chance. It seemed like it was going to open up a Pandora's box of more never-before-heard-of tidbits about the game.

Well, there were quite a few things that I had never heard of till I read this book. But there were also plenty of things that we
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to read while waiting for Opening Day to arrive. It's just the sort of book that can whet the appetite for the baseball season to begin.

Zack Hample is a master ballhawk. A ballhawk, by definition, is someone who is an expert at chasing down baseballs at major league baseball games (and even some spring training games). In The Baseball, Hample gives us a great look at that little white ball that we all obsess so much over. This is not a book about baseball, the game. This is
Heather C.
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
The newest offering from my favorite baseball geek, Zack Hample. Lots of interesting stories about baseball (not the game, the actual ball) scandals, legends, injuries, etc. Fun, obscure stuff like a rule that indicates how expensive and valuable a baseball in the 1870s was---if the ball couldn't be found, or landed somehwere inconvenient, play stopped and all the players started hunting. If it couldn't be found after 5 minutes, the ump called for a new one. A far cry from the MLB balls today wh ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
My brain is officially full of wacky baseball crap.

Like what's in a baseball (rubber, cork, lots of yarn)

Where it's made (Costa Rica, baseball sewers can do as many as 200 a week)

How to snag baseballs (turns out "please" is effective)

Honestly, at times this book was ridiculously uninteresting. At times, I was thinking if I dropped my ereader, then I wouldn't have to finish this book. Honestly, don't give a hoot about the top ten ballhawks (people who snag baseballs at games). And wow, that histo
Matt Simmons
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
A book that's sure to be entertaining for some, though I felt it was terribly uneven. If you're a "ballhawk," or an aspiring one, this book, on the whole, is for you. If you're interested in how baseballs--the physical objects themselves--and how they figure in popular culture, then the opening pages, the first section, are for you. If you're like me, a baseball history nerd, then the middle section is your cup of tea. The chapters about how the baseball is made (an incredible process!!) and how ...more
Bath Book Shop
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chelsea, non-fiction
Raise your hand if you've ever been sucked in by a cover. C'mon now, admit it.

Well, the cover on this one is fantastic - a bit dramatic, very direct, and with a nudge that says "imagine the stories this baseball could tell".

At which point, I was a goner.

The book failed to live up to the cover, as happens so often in these cases. The first two parts, dealing with the history and production (modern and otherwise) of the baseball - the actual, hold-it-in-your-hands baseball, rather than the sport -
Perry Gibbs
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read "The baseball" by Zach Hample. Since I have been playing baseball for as long as I can think of, It was a great read for me. Zach provided expert insight to areas of the game that I never would have though to read about and he told exciting stories about catching home runs, foul balls and even general shenanigans that happened on the field. I gave the book 4 stars because in order for someone to enjoy the book, they would have to know a lot about baseball beforehand, which isn't something ...more
Brooke Bailey
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Baseball by Zack Hample was not as good of a book as I thought it was going to be. I like baseball and do not mind reading about it, but this book was just not interesting enough to keep my attention. It had no actual plot line with no characters. It was mostly about Hample's experiences as he traveled to snag baseballs from different baseball fields. It was comical at times but became boring very quickly. Zack Hample's story about snagging balls was interesting and his advice to reader's wa ...more
Mike Smith
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it
I wouldn't call this a great book, but I did thoroughly enjoy reading it. I would have enjoyed it even more if more of the information presented had been new to me. The author's style is fairly encyclopedic regarding the baseball itself before transitioning to a basic technical style to instruct the reader in ball-hawking. The book is well researched so there is a lot of fascinating trivia. Unfortunately the book lacked any literary appeal for me. I don't intend this to be overly harsh as I am g ...more
Tommy Carlson
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is, essentially, a documentary about the baseball itself. It covers the history of the ball, along with the many variations on the orb. The most interesting piece to me is the middle section, detailing a visit to the secret Rawlings baseball factory. (Yes, it really is a secret.)

The author is a collector of balls. He's a ball-hawk, roaming the ballpark with his glove in the hopes of snagging yet another foul ball or home run. So, to him, the final third of the book, full of tips and tr
Apr 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fun quick read. The first half of the book is literally an history of the baseball. I mean the ball itself: how it's made, how it used to be made, what it's made out of, etc. The second half of the book is about how to get yourself one of these balls free at a major league ballpark. "Ballhawks" are fans who go to parks with the intention not necessarily of seeing a game but for the purpose of collecting baseballs. The author is a self-proclaimed ballhawk with a collection of over 4000 ...more
Elizabeth Periale
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
If you didn’t know what a juiced baseball was before reading this book, you sure will by the time you finish it. Famous ballhawk Zack Hample recounts loads of fun facts and figures about the baseball. Here is an excerpt from my review:

Another interesting story he recounts is about baseball mud — actual mud that is collected and rubbed onto every major league baseball, to make the ball’s surface better for pitchers, have less glare and provide better contact for batters … mud from some undisclose
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
This was probably the hardest book I have ever had to review. Overall, I gave it 3 stars because of the new and innovative content. Interestingly enough, I did not give the book a total of 4 stars because I feel like there was a LOT of repeat story in the last 1/2 of the book. Possibly the feeling of repetition is because I have followed Zack Hample's blog and I was able to read live as he did his research.

The other complaint comes in the 'baseball' section. After awhile I was so bored with who
May 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I get the feeling that Mr. Hample's editor kept telling him the book was too short and he needed to increase the page count. That's the only reason I can see for a year-by-year history of what company was making the official Major Leagues' balls and whether critics thought they were too lively or too dead. Seriously: year by year. Starting in what, 1847? and going to the present day. Excruciating. And then he spends a third of the book re-hashing his previous book on how to snag baseballs, and i ...more
Paul Miller
For the TRULY diehard baseball fan. The history of the composition of the baseball, how the ball has changed through the years, .... probably the most interesting part was a truly geeky view of how to get foul balls at the game. The author claims over 3,000 balls collected! (The term is 'ballhawking'.) Probably the most interesting factoid is how after the Black Sox scandal (gambler-influenced World Series of 1919) they 'juiced' the ball (i.e. made it more lively). Soon afterwards, Babe Ruth app ...more
Paul Weier
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
The book is divided into 3 sections: "Stories About Baseballs", "History of Manufacturing The Baseball" and "How to Catch Your Own Baseball". All three sections offered their own interest. I wish the data weren't provided quite so factoid based - preferring the tales told more colloquially. In the end you feel like you must muddle through the dry facts to reach the finish line; that being said there are many great takeaways in here I had no knowledge of even having watched pretty much all of 11 ...more
Stephanie Scott
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first 2 parts of the book, which covered the history of the ball itself and the evolution of the ball and the game. Fascinating stuff. Part 3, though, not so much. When I go to a game, it's to see the game! Not to spend the whole time chasing balls around the stadium. It's almost 100 pages on how to harass players into throwing you a game ball, or to get into potentially dangerous situations with other fans. If part 3 had been left out, this would have been a much better and ...more
May 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: baseball
It's not as bad as my rating might make you think, but I'm not sure the book is much higher. Poorly written, obsessive about the weirdest things (like a comprehensive list of TV shows that have featured someone getting hit with a batted ball at a game), and never really lets the reader in to what makes the author's hobby fun. Why are people compelled to collect thousands of baseballs, most of which were never used in meaningful play? It's a mystery.
Scott Vout
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2012
Found this one while searching for a book about Sandy Kofaux.

Turned out to be a cute piece about the actual baseball.

the first half is a bunch of short anicdotes of info on the making of the ball and all the changes that it went through over the years.

The second half is about how to get baseballs at games.

I found the first half to be much more interesting then the second half.

A nice distraction if you are a true fan of the game.
Matt DiSilvio
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was very uncertain about this book at first. I am an avid baseball fan and was on a baseball book kick when I picked this one up. My uncertainty went away completely when I started reading. Zack Hample combines interesting facts with a great sense of humor while discussing America's favorite past time. Definitely not the greatest baseball book ever written (That award goes to "Three Nights in August" in my opinion) but definitely a book worth checking out for any baseball fan.
Tyler Hancock
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. It started all the way to when baseball was first introduced and how many issues they came across and the way that some of these issues were dealt with. Then it shows us the way people avoided prison when they refused to hand over a baseball. Over all it is a very good read and I think that anyone will enjoy it. No matter what.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
Although I read it cover to cover, I would recommend jumping around to different sections to gleen the most enjoyment, and information, from the book. It is very thorough which makes it dry at times. Some chapters were exceedingly trivial and others seemed to sound like the author patting himself on the back. It is a fun book to have around though.
Lee Ann
An all about me book basically. The first section is some interesting information about making and using baseballs, but the rest is about how to get a ball from a player and strategies used by him. A lot of name dropping. I found the author to be very impressed with himself.

Not much real baseball information.
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I agree with another review I read here that this book feels like two separate books. I recommend the book for any baseball fan for the first half. The history of the baseball is well written and fascinating. Second half is great if you want to ballhawk but the pacing feels a bit off. Still glad to have read this one
Kanyon Rosson
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Baseball is an amazing book to read. It teaches you all about the history of baseball. The author Zack Hample did an amazing job writing this book. It took me a while to read it but it was worth my time. I love baseball and this book taught me all about the history. This a book that I won't mind reading over and over!
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
Great until end. The premise is "behind the seems" of baseball. But Hample added a random section on ballhawking that has absolutely nothing to do with a behind the scenes look at the ball. Well worth the first two sections, but the third is simply pointless.
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