On Saturday we were upstate for the weekend with my diehard Soxfan parents, who made the trip out to Columbia County to visit the SF clan. Our son Isaac of course made his weekendly demand for a visit to our wonderful local used bookshop, Rodgers Book Barn. It must have been something about the high percentage of Royal Rooters in the house (literally, it’s a house), because as we were walking away we noticed a hardcover copy of the book that the above image is taken from, Ted Williams’ classic “The Science of Hitting“. It was four bucks, so an automatic purchase since our only copy of the book is a reprinted paperback. The bonus was that, upon further inspection, we discovered it to be a first printing, and in darn good shape at that. It’s worth well more than the four bucks we shelled out.
The 1971 book is a classic of baseball instruction full of helpful illustrations and handy tips for the devoted ballplayer, even if impossible to emulate as an amateur. Williams’ first person narration is rich and anecdotal; it reveals the great depth of Williams’ historical knowledge of the game. It is up there with Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, one of the greatest pro-to-amateur sports instruction manuals ever published. And, to this design nut, there is an amazingly modern graphic sense to some of the diagrams, particularly for a sports instruction book. The image at the top of the thread is from the cover, a hit chart representing Wiliams’ hot and cold zones, done decades in advance of the visual information we are given on a nightly basis via ESPN, NESN, YES, etc. There is also some beautiful photography, in particular a sequence showing Williams’ swing as it passes through the plate, shot dramatically from above the dish. We were lucky to find this.
A couple of pictures follow after the jump.