K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches uses an ingenious microscope through which to scrutinize baseball (K is scorekeeping shorthand for a strikeout). The author elevates trivia and manages to make it consequential ... Looking at baseball pitch by pitch cleverly conjures the wonders of the game and how it has changed ... Kepner’s book...captures both the glory and vagaries of the sport he loves, past and present.
...delightful ... K is a work of history but not a narrative in the traditional sense ... The interviews can be at once revealing and occasionally moving ... There are no windy discussions here of analytics or insights derived from data-driven information. The book is well-written, anecdote rich and filled with seldom-shared insights by players. By the end, the reader will understand the exact nature of the 10 pitches and have a much better grasp of the dynamics of baseball. Read it to find out why throwing a change-up takes courage.
Kepner’s book lacks a compelling narrative and well-developed characters. His descriptions of how to throw various pitches can be hard to visualize; detailed illustrations would have helped. Accordingly, this volume will appeal more to hardcore fans than to casual readers, but for us baseball believers, there are plenty of nourishing nuggets here, starting with the essential nature of the pitching profession.
... delivers exactly what its title promises. It is a fascinating deconstruction of the nature of pitching by those men who did it best. It is a cross-section of the game’s history, showing us the ebb and flow of the craft and how pitches have come into and fallen out of favor over the years ... Kepner’s passion for the game permeates the narrative he has constructed. The book offers intricate detail mixed with stories of the game – he blends the tangible notions of grips and spin rates and throwing motions with the ethereal myths of baseball’s bygone legends. It’s a combination that serves to elevate each element, a rich and engaging reading experience for any true fan.
If you need a Father’s Day gift for a man who once pitched for a baseball team, consider your search over ... it’s a history—and detailed description—of those 10 pitches, with a chapter devoted to each ... Trouble is, this book throws more insider stuff than the average baseball fan will care to deal with. Kepner goes into minute detail on such arcane matters as the placement of which finger goes where on the ball, and which way the ball’s seams ought to face. When Kepner isn’t writing this kind of prose himself, he’s quoting others to the same effect ... Here and there, Kepner tosses in some humor ... But mostly, K strikes out as entertaining reading.
...an exceptionally well written treatment of a significant part of American social history from the 19th century to today ... no politics—just baseball and its history ... Vivid images run through the book ... The interviews themselves are worth the price of admission, as are the comments and observations of players from all periods on the practices of the day.
New York Times sportswriter Kepner...takes a deep look into...the art of the pitch ... Th[e] overlap of science and experience is a fascinating conversation to observe ... Baseball enthusiasts will devour this well-paced, journalistic read, it may even inspire them to go outside for a little catch.
In this spirited romp through the history, folklore, and science of America’s pastime ... [r]eaders learn exactly what skills a pitcher must master to unloose a blazing fastball, a nasty splitter, a maddening knuckleball, or a tumbling sinker. Kepner even initiates readers into the devious craft of those throwing the notorious spitball. Relived episodes capture the excitement of superb pitching ... But readers also experience pitchers’ humiliation when their pitches fail them... From triumph to tragedy, readers trace the astonishingly diverse trajectories of the baseballs pitchers throw. Appreciative fans will keep this book zipping off library shelves.
A gripping tour through the most elemental component of baseball ... In this top-notch sports book, Kepner ... traces the development of each pitch, often as far back as the 19th century, and describes how pitchers take different approaches to the same fundamental pitch, creating myriad variations of each. Discussions of grips and arm angles become compelling aspects of a larger drama, and his interviewees provide useful insight into the psyche of players and the mindset that it takes to traverse the 60 feet, 6 inches between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Although less a 'history of baseball' than 'a history of pitching,' with this book, Kepner has worked magic. This engaging exploration of the art and craft of pitching belongs in the first ranks of books on America’s most written-about sport.
Using interviews and extensive research, Kepner not only discovers the origins and evolutions of these and other pitches, like the curveball...knuckleball, and spitball, but he also shines a microscope on how pitches captured championships or ended lives ... Kepner puts a new spin on baseball’s history that will have even the most avid fans entertained as they learn something new in each chapter.