I’m relatively new to MLBlogs so I’m still discovering new shiny things every time I visit. This weekend it was the Baseball Books blog. A little infrequently updated – which I understand – but a great concept. I really liked the what is your most precious baseball book post from April, but it was so old I hesitated to comment. Still, that post got the question spinning around in my brain and I figured I would answer it here. My most precious baseball book is kind of an odd choice. It isn’t valuable. It isn’t even necessarily good, but it was my first: Remembrance of Swings Past by Ron Luciano. It’s a part memoir, part historical baseball trivia book written by a former major league umpire.
Allow me to explain, my father has a head for trivia, one that I’ve inherited. We like to joke that no factoid is too trivial, no random piece of data so inconsequential that our brains will not latch onto it forever at the expense of a lot of, quite frankly, much more important information. We come by it honestly. My grandfather was a similar repository of useless but intriguing information and I can only assume that in each generation going all the way back to Ireland there was at least one gleeful collector of random facts. Hey, as family heritages go, it’s less painful than low arches and a lot less responsibility than a decaying manor house in a far away land – I’ll take it.
For this reason my sister and I gave our sports loving dad this book, a Joe Madden football trivia book and, if memory serves, one of the Far Side Gallery collections (How’s that for a trip in the way back machine boys and girls?) for Father’s Day one year. I was a kid who always had to have something to read to the point where, when new books were lacking, I would start rereading old books, peruse the encyclopedias (no joke!), or pick up pretty much anything my parents left lying around the house (Side Note: Parents, don’t worry if your kids do this. Your 10 year old isn’t going to learn anything from Danielle Steele, etc. other than that “adult situations” are really kind of boring until you’re old enough to figure out that boys don’t actually have cooties.).
A lot of the stuff my parents left lying around the house was boring – see side note – but Remembrance of Swings Past was not. It played to my love of baseball and growing interests in history and trivia. Besides, it gave me all kinds of questions for my father and grandfather (the original Angels fan in the family) and I will treasure those conversations forever. I will also always remember the books often hilarious stories about the Mad Hungarian, The Bird, the “auspicious” debut of the Kansas City Athletics green and gold uniforms and much more. Remembrance of Swings Past is neither the best baseball nor the best trivia book I have read, but it gave me a lifelong love of both.