Why is the foul pole fair? A book review


Oct 28, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; The ball hit for a two-run home run by San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (not pictured) stays to the right and fair of the foul pole during the sixth inning of game four of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about you but I’m seriously craving baseball. Spring Training is a nice little appetizer, but it’s also a tease. I’m ready for the meat of the season. I’m ready for road trips, four-game series, and the dogs days of summer. In the meantime I’ve been doing some reading.

I picked up Why Is the Foul Pole Fair? by Vince Staten at the library. It’s not a new book by any means. Published in 2003, it’s missing one important piece of baseball history, the 2004 Red Sox, but the book’s main focus is baseball past, not present, so we’ll let it slide.

Vince Staten weaves a tapestry of baseball facts and figures in amongst the story of taking his son to his first major league game. The book touches on the early beginnings of our beloved baseball as a simple game made up to give city men an excuse to exercise. Staten focuses a lot on his Cincinnati Reds, a team I had not realized was so influential in forming the sport. Did you know the Reds were the first to have uniform numbers? They added some numerals to their jerseys in 1888.

Many of us baseball fans may be familiar with the fact that the words to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” were written by a man, Jack Norworth, who had never been to a baseball game. Did you know that the man who composed the music hadn’t  been to a game either? And that singing the song at the 7th inning stretch is a recent custom?

Foul Pole is an easy read, broken up into short chapters that follow the progression of the game he and his son attended. Staten covers baseball history in no particular order, which helps avoid any resemblance to a textbook. Reading this book is more like wandering through Baseball Hall of Fame and less like sitting in a class. I’d recommend reading this book if for no other reason than to glean some nuggets of baseball knowledge to share with friends during your next 7th inning stretch.