As befits a game traditionally passed from one generation to the next, baseball has always had a special reverence for origins. Claims of being first with any element of the game are disputed with fervor and passion. When the octogenarian Fred Goldsmith died in 1939, a headline proclaimed, 'Goldsmith Dies Insisting He Invented Curve Ball'; Fred Goldsmith understood the secret of immortality. Yet while countless thousands of words have been spilled on the subject of baseball "firsts," there has been no definitive source for the settlement of disputes. Peter Morris's endlessly fascinating A Game of Inches has now arrived to fill the void. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, this treasure trove will surprise, delight, and educate even the most knowledgeable fan by dispelling cherished myths and revealing the source of many of baseball's features that we now take for granted. The scope of A Game of Inches is encyclopedic, with nearly a thousand entries that illuminate the origins of items ranging from catchers' masks to hook slides to intentional walks to cork-center baseballs. But this is much more than just a reference guide.
Award-winning author Peter Morris explains the context that led each new item to emerge when it did, and chronicles the often surprising responses to these innovations. Of few books can it genuinely be said that once you start reading, it's hard to put it down-but A Game of Inches is one of them. It belongs in the pantheon of great baseball books, and will give any reader a deeper appreciation of why baseball matters so much to Americans. (A companion volume, A Game of Inches: The Game Behind the Scenes, was published in the fall of 2006.)
Peter Morris won the coveted Seymour Medal of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for his book Baseball Fever, about early baseball in Michigan. He has also been honored by USA Today Sports Weekly. A graduate of the University of Toronto and Michigan State University and a former national and international Scrabble champion, he is now a researcher at the Michigan Public Health Institute and lives in Haslett, Michigan. Visit the author's website (www.petermorrisbooks.com) for more information.