29 K Book review side bar

If major league baseball has gotten too expensive and superstar-heavy for your taste, then consider enjoying the game in more understated ways. Santa Fe Fuego (2014 Pecos League champs) host the Alpine Cowboys on opening day, May 30, at Fort Marcy Park. Santa Feans also benefit from proximity to Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, where Triple-A games may be watched at a reasonable price. This year’s 140-game campaign includes the opening night game on Thursday, April 4, against the Salt Lake Bees. And there will be promotions: mittens on April 4, hoodies on April 5, and fleece blankets on April 6. Those items are so you don’t get chilly in the stands at night, but don’t worry, summer is around the corner and the 2019 ‘Topes season features 12 home stands of several games each.

If paper leaves are preferable to grass, read a new book like K (reviewed on this page), and then peruse a couple of historical chronicles. No other sport has amassed so many classics. There’s Ball Four (1970), Jim Bouton’s honest (shockingly so, at the time) look at the 1969 season. If you’re a hapless Mets fan, required reading is Jimmy Breslin’s Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? (1963), about the endearingly inept expansion team, which includes a bonus of delightful utterances from their famously quotable manager, Casey Stengel. Baseball’s Greatest Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy (1983) by Jules Tygiel looks at minor, major, and Negro leagues, and the considerable impact Robinson had on post-World War II America.

Or consider the nostalgia-inducing Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book by Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris, which first appeared in 1973 (a Kindle edition is now available). There you can read witty profiles of players pictured on selected vintage cards and remember (or discover) a time when baseball cards were crucial options for souping up bicycle spokes, and the distinct flavor of Topps bubble gum was a sweet sidelight of the summer game.

The wisdom of (mostly) Yankees catcher and manager Yogi Berra helps keep it all in perspective: “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”

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