If you are a fan of baseball – the game, its pageantry, its history, it’s dynamics and its social effect – then this book is for you. If you think baseball is boring and confusing, well, move right along.
Written in short, meandering snippets – just the right length to read between innings – “The Devil’s Snake Curve” covers not just the game itself, but the characters behind, within, and surrounding the game, past and present. It relates stories not just about baseball, but about baseball’s impact on America’s psyche, about how baseball contains the heart and soul of America.
Here’s an example:
Sampson and the Yankees
One day a man arrived at the Ruppert Brewery in New York and proposed a wager. The story has the tenor and significance of myth. It was 1896, nearly twenty years before Jacob Ruppert purchased the Yankees. The journeyman’s name was C.A. Sampson. He bet young Jacob Ruppert, then in his twenties, a hundred dollars he could break a set of heavy chains with nothing more than his own muscles.
To prove the strength of the chains before the challenge, Ruppert and Sampson called for a team of horses. The chains were attached to a wagon loaded with fifty barrels of beer. It weighed seven thousand pounds. The horses pulled the wagon up a hill. The chains held. They were real. Ruppert agreed to the bet. Sampson placed the chains around his arm, flexed, and snapped them. Ruppert lost the bet and donated the money to charity. He didn’t like to lose.
This is the origin of the Yankees’ long and storied opposition to hair.
If you understand the significance, the history, and the humor of this story, then you’ll love “The Devil’s Snake Curve”. I did. So much so that I returned the book I had checked out of the library after the first 20 pages and ordered a copy to keep. You know, I could swear that when I flip through the pages, I can catch a whiff of peanuts and crackerjacks.