Nine Sides of the Diamond
Baseball’s Great Glove Men on the Fine Art of Defense (1992)
by David Falkner
This book is exactly what its subtitle says: a book about baseball defense. In nine chapters, it covers each position on the field. Each chapter describes aspects of the old-time players, and the modern ones. It quotes the players and the writers who saw them. Piece by piece, it puts together a portrait of the player’s concerns at each position, showing the strengths and skills each needs and why. Most of all, it shows what the players are thinking about.
Much better than George Will’s puff-piece Men At Work, it gives the reader tools to take to the park, or to the instant replay, to better appreciate the nuances of the greatest game on Earth. With nearly every page I felt an urge to get to the ballpark, any ballpark, to see the principles illustrated, even in the breach.
It is full of insights that all thinking fans should have, in order to appreciate the thinking players we watch. Those who watch the game for the thrill of flashy showmanship, power hitting, baserunning and other offense will need to find another book. But this book fulfills its promise superbly.
I read this book only a year after it was published, but even then I realized that the “current” players mentioned in it would quickly date the book. This seems the sort of book that could be revised every ten years or so, to keep it “current” with the best defensive players of the day.