From the New York Times baseball columnist, an enchanting, enthralling history of the national pastime as told through the craft of pitching, based on years of archival research and interviews with more than 300 people from Hall of Famers to the stars of today.
The baseball is an amazing plaything. We can grip it and hold it so many different ways, and even the slightest calibration can turn an ordinary pitch into a weapon to thwart the greatest hitters in the world. Each pitch has its own history, evolving through the decades as the masters pass it down to the next generation. From the earliest days of the game, when Candy Cummings dreamed up the curveball while flinging clamshells on a Brooklyn beach, pitchers have never stopped innovating.
In K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, Tyler Kepner traces the colorful stories and fascinating folklore behind the 10 major pitches. Each chapter highlights a different pitch, from the blazing fastball to the fluttering knuckleball to the slippery spitball. Infusing every moment with infectious passion for the game, Kepner brings listeners inside the minds of combatants 60 feet, six inches apart.
Filled with priceless insights from many of the best pitchers in baseball history, including 22 Hall of Famers - from Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan to Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera, and Clayton Kershaw - K will be the definitive guide on pitching and join such works as The Glory of Their Times and Moneyball as a classic of the genre.
"Tyler Kepner knows his stuff - by which I mean the plethora of possible assaults on the strike zone that have created the modern game: splitters, spitters, sinkers, sliders. It’s all here: Cy Young’s whistler; Sandy Koufax’s 12-to-6 curve; the fadeaway that made Matty famous before it became a screwball and revived Warren Spahn’s career. K is an education in the history, mechanics and language of pitching and as rich with detail as the craft it describes. This is inside baseball at its best. A must read for any fan who aspires to be in the know." (Jane Leavy, New York Times best-selling author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy and The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created)
“There has been so much good writing on the subject of baseball that you sometimes wonder if there can be a fresh way to go about it. But Tyler Kepner turns the trick. Analytical and anecdotal, insightful and entertaining, K is a welcome addition to the baseball bookshelf.” (Bob Costas)
"Kepner puts a new spin on baseball's history that will have even the most avid fans entertained as they learn something new in each chapter." (Publishers Weekly)