THE 34-TON BAT: The story of baseball as told through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jock Straps, Eye Black and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects
By Steve Rushin; Little, Brown and Company; 2013
This is a fun and entertaining book that explores lesser known facts in the history of America’s pastime. It is often said that everything has a story and Steve Rushin applies that cliché as he explores the many stories behind baseball artifacts he discovered from his grandfather Jimmy Boyle who played catcher for the New York Giants in 1926. His great uncle Buzz Boyle was an outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers and another uncle Jimmy Boyle enjoyed a long career with the Phillies. These family members sparked the interest in baseball’s lore and his desire to know about their playing days. With careful appreciation, Rushin’s colorful storytelling focuses on the history of bats, the itchy history of the first wool uniforms, who helped design the first batting helmet and innovations and features in glove/mitt design. Other subjects that enhance his storytelling include hot dogs and ballpark food, the rise of concessions, the origins of classic team logos, the first ballpark organists, how walk up songs came to be, and the family legacies of groundskeepers who have made ballfields gloriously green with beautiful patterns. Each chapter provides unique lessons about baseball history woven with bits of information and culture from American history.