For some reason, Baseballissimo, by Dave Bidini, seems to be a book that people either love or hate. And yet, very few people seem to have read it.
Perhaps the biggest reason that very few people have read it is that the book is available in very few libraries. The copy I read came via interlibrary loan from a library in San Mateo, California. Most of the book reviews online are reasonably polarized. Some critics hate the book while others praise it as one of the best sports books of 2004.
While I didn’t love the book, it certainly was worth the effort to fill out forms at the library to get it. Bidini has a liquid, flowing writing style that blends humor and insight well. The humor in the book is generally subtle, but sprinkled throughout quite well.
If you are not terribly familiar with the game of baseball, you might not enjoy this book as much as someone who lives and breathes the game will. Bidini is a name dropper, but not as though he has met everyone whose name he drops. Rather he drops names as a form of shorthand for various physical or mental traits.
I also found that there if one looked beneath the clever prose and sporting surroundings, one could find real human emotions suffused throughout the book. From the attitudes and actions of those players stuck riding the pine, to those of fireball pitchers and hot shot young outfielders, nearly all types of people can be found somewhere in this book.