This is about as good as it gets.
There’s good reason why The Glory of Their Times appears on every “best baseball book of all time” list you’ll find anywhere.
The book wonderfully encapsulates the good ol’ days of baseball, back in the 1900s when the best baseball players were everymen.
Part of what makes this book so compelling is its format: a series of first-person perspectives from many of the game’s best players themselves. Their stories intersect and intertwine effortlessly to paint a picture of what professional baseball used to be.
The resulting narrative is a rhythmic, unforgettable piece of art rarely rivaled in the realm of baseball literature.
Extremely readable. Good for all ages. Good for any mood. Good for any level of commitment. I read the first half or so of this book in one sitting. Completely immersed. Then chipped away at it in pre-bed hours over the course of a couple weeks.
My favorite part.
One running theme throughout this book is that ballplayers back in the early 1900s were not the polished professionals you see on the television today. They were degenerates and troublemakers. Rabblerousers. Happy to bend the rules when umpires look the other way.
I’ll admit I have moments where I roll my eyes at bat flips, trash talk, sign stealing, and miscellaneous bush league tactics. I typically like the guys who put their head down after cracking one 450ft off the barrel and humbly round the bases.
This book has changed the way I think about ballplayers. The spirit of baseball and the moxy, cunning, and spontaneity of its earliest ancestors. And the love they exhibit for the competition and silliness of it all.
What could I possibly not like?
If you have built an immunity to the charm of the old and elderly, you may lose patience with the first-person perspectives of the exclusively old and elderly.
Not sure what else to say here.
Two concepts infinitely endear me:
- Show, don’t tell
- Spontaneous order
The Glory of Their Times paints a detailed picture without you realizing someone’s painting. Never before had I considered spontaneous order in the context of a narrative, or literature. It’s an economics term. But that’s the best way I can describe the feeling when this book really started to click. All of a sudden, a living, breathing world emerged.
Every personality pieces the puzzle together to create a vivid snapshot in time. There is no beginning, and no end. No contributor buttons things up nicely for us before passing the baton to the next. They are each accidentally and unpredictably poetic. The cumulative effect sneaks up on you.
This book reignites excitement for the game of baseball. Illustrates a shared history of the game’s earliest memories. Captures an ineffable essence.
I think you should read it.
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