Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

Synopsis

Professor Bronson asked nineteen intrepid philosophers who are also baseball fans to turn their penetrating gaze on this most American of games. The result has been described as "a philosophical home run." Chapters include "The Zen of Hitting," "There Are No Ties at First Base," "Baseball and the Search for an American Moral Identity," "Damn Yankees: Why America Needs Reggie Jackson," "The Ethics of the Intentional Walk," "Saving the Twins with Rawlsian Justice," "Wait 'Til Next Year: The Faith of a Cubs Fan," "Taking Umpiring Seriously," "He Missed the Tag! The Ethics of Deception," and "The Asterisk in the Record Book: Roger Maris and Normative Assessments."

Excerpt

Philosophy takes time. So does baseball.

Philosophy is sometimes strictly logical, sometimes mystical. Likewise baseball. Ted Williams made such a thorough study of the act of hitting a baseball that most witnesses regard his achievement as science. He argued (loudly and without doubt) that he had come to understand (if not invent) the only proper angle for a bat to describe as it crossed the plate. He maintained that by “getting my pitch,” that is, by never giving in to the pitcher who works just off the corners or beyond the upper and lower edges of the strike zone, he could essentially beat the logic of the game, which, of course, has it that good pitching will beat good hitting. On the other hand, Nomar Garciaparra, whom Ted Williams admired immoderately, is apparently convinced that he cannot hit at all if he doesn't adjust his batting gloves with precisely the same sequence of irritating, spastic, tugs before every pitch, which is as logical as not changing your socks when you're on a hitting streak.

These observations would seem to suggest that a book entitled Baseball and Philosophy describes a better coupling than, say, Pole Vaulting and Philosophy. Moreover, baseball has spawned remarkable philosophers over the decades. Consider Satchel Paige (“Don't look back; something may be gaining on you”); Yogi Berra (“It ain't over 'til it's over”), and Casey Stengel (“The Mets is a very good thing. They give everybody a job. Just like the WPA”). But the best argument for this book is that up and down the lineup, the philosophers involved herein are having such a good time. The achievement of this volume is like the accomplishment of a game in the perfect ballyard on City Island Park in the middle of the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on a night with no mosquitoes. The essays in this book remind the reader that philosophy is fun, and that creatively building unlikely connections between such concerns as . . .

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