Current followers of “MLB on 5 Live”, old fans of “Baseball on Five”, and other members of the British baseball community will all have come across Josh Chetwynd as a broadcaster, a coach, a player, or maybe all three. And those who like reading books may well have also come across him as an author. His first book (reviewed by Matt here) was a work on British baseball history and his follow-up (reviewed by me here) explored the broader topic of the sport’s history in Europe.
A third book by Chetywnd is due out in May. In one way, it is much broader – in that it looks at a whole range of sports – and in another it is much more specific – in that it focuses on the stories behind the balls they use. It’s called The Secret History of Balls: The Stories Behind the Things We Love to Catch, Whack, Throw, Kick, Bounce and Bat. Readers of his other books will know that Chetwynd has a knack for gathering fascinating anecdotes, and so I suspect this book will be another great read. I’ve pre-ordered my copy.
For those interested in knowing more, here’s the blurb off the Penguin.com website:
You may fancy yourself a sports fan, but chances are you don’t know:
A fish eyeball was used as the center of some nineteenth-century baseballs
The race to make better billiard balls led to the invention of plastics
The Nerf ball was originally created to be part of a board game featuring cavemen
Balls are the unsung heroes of sports. They are smacked, flung, dribbled, crushed, thrown, and kicked. They’re usually only the subject of scrutiny when something goes wrong: a tear, the application of an illegal foreign substance, or a dent from overuse. Nevertheless, if you’re watching nearly any major sporting event from around the world, you’re likely following the ball wondering where it will go next…
The Secret History of Balls mines the stories and lore of sports and recreation to offer insight into 60 balls-whether they’re hollow, solid, full of air, or stuffed with twine or made of leather, metal, rubber, plastic, or polyurethane-that give us joy on playing fields and in every arena from backyards to stadiums around the globe.