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Because baseball is truly and uniquely the American pastime, you could quite possibly get a book's worth of material out of its history in all 50 states--and more than a few territories. Even Alaska used to host a Summer League, where they could play in sunlight most of the night. But Kevin Nelson mines the especially rich past of baseball in California from its earliest days as a state--in the 1850s--until its five professional franchises were all in place in 1969. Along the way he dips into the game's forays into radio, tv, and film; the last days of Ty Cobb; Jackie Robinson's emergence at UCLA; and on and on. Mr. Nelson's style is very conversational and he wends from topic to topic. If you're looking for someone to dot every "i" and cross every "t" or to give a rigid day-by-day history, he's not your man. But if you think you'd enjoy listening to a tale spinner meander around the Golden State and tell the stories that catch his fancy--accompanied by a remarkable collection of photos--this is a book you'll enjoy immensely.


Grade: (B+)