Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball

by Stephen Jay Gould.

The late, great science writer's final book—about baseball.

Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville

The late, great Stephen Jay Gould was a baseball fanatic. He was also one of my heroes, and my all-time favourite author. So of course I read this, his last ever book: a collection of his essays and reviews about that totally incomprehensible American sport.

OK, I admit it: I, an ignorant Brit, really struggled with this book. I had read some of the essays before, and, as you would expect, many of them contain typically brilliant Gouldian insights—but what this book needs (and what the editor surely should have provided) for the non-American reader is a short glossary. Gould frequently bowls the poor, foreign reader a bit of a googlie, leaving us totally stumped. I for one can only guess at what a batting average, or designated hitter rule might be, and I'm sure that the hypothetical question posed to the great Joe DiMaggio by Gould's son about whether a single walk would have ended his legendary 56-game hitting streak has some deep significance, but it's lost on this poor Limey.

Having said that, Gould was a wonderful writer, so, if you understand and enjoy all that baseball mumbo-jumbo, I'm sure this is just the book for you.

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