View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



October 2009



Baseball for Everyone!

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Here’s a book written by Joe DiMaggio, titled “”Baseball for Everyone”. It was first published in 1948, but reissued in 2002.

Let me start with the Bio from the inside back jacket cover:
– “Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) played for the Yankees from 1936 to 1951, with time out for military service in World War II. In a poll taken in the 1940s he topped George Washington as ‘the greatest American of all time’.”

One remarkable aspect of Joe’s career, as noted in Peter Golenbock’s Foreword:
– “…(Joe DiMaggio) was a lifetime .325 hitter with such remarkable bat control that over his brilliant thirteen-year career he had only eight fewer home runs (361) than strikeouts (369), a feat, when you really think about it, that was even more amazing than his consecutive-game hitting streak.”

Here’s another accurate quote from the Foreword:
– “The book is also a time capsule in a way, because the advice and anecdotes come from long-gone baseball legends… ‘Baseball for Everyone’ is filled with pure baseball. DiMaggio’s knowledge of the game and his reverence for it come through on every page.”

“Baseball for Everyone” is organized as follows: first a general overview of the game, then a discussion about sand lot and semipro baseball. Joe looks at the minors and the majors, then goes over, position by position, how the game is supposed to be played. After that he dives into the subjects of hitting, pitching, base running, coaching and slumps. In so doing, Joe DiMaggio goes into great detail about topics and situations I never even thought about. And that’s what makes this book so instructive.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Joe DiMaggio himself:
– “I believe that the major reason for the greatness of baseball is the blood kinship of its players and its fans in their devotion to the game. One of their chief bonds is their fascination for intimate information about every aspect of baseball. And the more they find out, the keener they become as performers or as fans.”

– “Little can be done to increase a boy’s speed, but there is one very simple means of preventing its reduction. Provide a youngster with comfortable, well-fitting shoes…. See that they fit him.” (CubbieDude note: I got stuck in high school with a pair of baseball cleats which hurt to wear. All season long the coach told me to “play with pain”, etc. My football playing ended prematurely because the danged shoes weren’t right. Joe DiMaggio is spot on here.)

– “Whether a player is a boy in his teens or an adult who has made the majors, he has room for improvement, and his three chief ways of learning better baseball are through good instruction, personal observation, and intelligent questions.” (CubbieDude note: Joe is providing good instruction here by answering his own intelligent questions. It remains for the individual to exercise personal observation.)

– “Once I asked Red Ruffing, a top-flight competitor, why he frequently bore down so hard on the tail end of the batting order.
‘Those are the guys,’ he said, ‘who break your heart when they get a hit off of you, because you figure they’re not entitled to it. So I made up my mind long ago that if any of the weak ones were going to get a hit off of me they were going to have to hit my Sunday stuff…’”

– “The general prescription for a first baseman would be that he is ‘long, lean, and left-handed,’ but the prescription is only occasionally followed.”

– “…in baseball, as an old umpire once put it, ‘There are no ties – either you’re safe or you ain’t’.”

– “He cannot take time to get set – while the second baseman gets set the runner gets safe.”

– “An outfielder who can’t hit around .300 should be a Tris Speaker or a Terry Moore defensively if he isn’t to be a drag on the club. And the days of the outfielder who’s a good hitter but a poor fielder are gone, probably forever.”

– “…crowded stands, with thousands of fans smoking, make game conditions far different from those in the practice period. Before the game the crowd is small, and haze from tobacco smoke is at a minimum. As the game goes on the haze deepens, especially if the day is humid and there is no breeze to carry the smoke from the park.”

– “Perhaps the best cure is a day or two on the bench, but I’ve met few ballplayers who would volunteer to be taken out of the line-up during a slump. Depressed as he is by his slump, there’s always the fear in his mind that he may never get back in again.”

The book closes with a chapter on scoring (“How to Score”) by Red Barber. Red’s system is so redundant, convoluted and confusing to me that, if I didn’t already have a system in place, I think I’d just give up after reading this chapter and never try to keep score again. But that’s just me.

Nowadays, if I had the interest, I suppose I’d keep a video library of games I saw &/or attended, rather than maintaining scorecards. But, once again, that’s just me.

Finally, I noticed that, having been published originally in 1948, some of the names and dollar amounts are not particularly current. The names I will have to familiarize myself with, but the dollar amounts are easily updated. Just add 2 little zeros to each figure and you’re up to date. For instance, Joe talks about the $5,000 major league minimum salary. Adding two little zeros, that number becomes $500,000, a more current minimum salary figure.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. I recommend it in concurrence with the wording from the inside back jacket cover: “Baseball for Everyone is for all who love the game and savor the legends surrounding it.”

  • Doc Raker

    I have read the Joe DiMaggio biography which was very interesting. It gives a historical overview of the west coast PCL league and really let’s you in on his personality. he was’t really likeable, always looking to use his celebrity to gain a buck or get a free meal.
    Thanks for another great book review. I am starting to wonder if you will ever run out of baseball books.

    361 Hr’s with 369 K’s in a 13 year career playing in cavernous Yankee Stadium is another unbelievable stat.

  • CubbieDude

    Hey Doc,

    I am just now learning of Paul Fagan’s (one time owner of the San Francisco Seals) plan to morph the Pacific Coast League into a third Major Baseball League. Of course that didn’t work out. At one time Mr. Fagan took his team (the Seals) to Hana Maui for spring training at his ranch. Would I have loved to be a part of that!

    You say Joe DiMaggio wasn’t very likeable, but Marilyn Monroe seemed to like him, at least for a while.

    The pile of baseball books is getting a little smaller, but there are still plenty on the shelf for me to read, and there’re more being published every day. The issue is running out of time, not running out of baseball books.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • The book makes him out to be a bit of a scrooge. Of course, everyone loved DiMaggio. He never got over Marilyn.