Who would have thunk it? The co-author of the printed version of Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary claims he was never much of a baseball fan, prior to the project. The reason is reminiscent of Ray Kinsella’s rationale in Field of Dreams:
I’ve never liked baseball much, in part because my father has always loved it so.
Stricken by polio at age 11, Ward distanced himself even further from the game.
When he decided to particpate in Burns’ film, he writes in "Learning to Like Baseball," an article in American Heritage in 1994 that his father was less than impressed:
“Boy,” he said, frowning, “you don’t know a ****** thing about baseball.”
That was pretty much true, and I’m frank enough to say that even after months of poking around in the daunting literature—battalions of players and teams and leagues, whole libraries of cabalistic statistics—I was still not at all sure how to go about my task.
Ward’s ignorance, it seems, was not much of a hindrance. The book, originally published by Knopf in 1994 and re-released as a paperback two years later, is a marvelous collection of essays and photographs, Each time period, usually a decade in duration, is presented as an "inning" and supplemented by contributions from the likes of Roger Angell, Tom Boswell, Bill James, Doris Kearns Goodwin, George F. Will, John Thorn, and Robert W. Creamer, among others.
Like the game itself, the book, which faithfully follows the video format, is best enjoyed in a leisurely fashion.