Review

The Head Game: Baseball Seen From the Pitcher's Mound

by Roger Kahn



Roger Kahn has spent a lifetime writing elegantly on the national
pastime. THE BOYS OF SUMMER, originally released in 1972 and once
again available on bookshelves, is required reading for Baby Boomer
baseball fans (and their parents), as it recalls the storied
Dodgers of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Roy
Campanella, Carl Erskine, and company in the post-World War II
years.

Kahn's newest offering is THE HEAD GAME, a look at baseball from
the perspectives of some of the greatest pitchers of all time. It's
part biography, part primer, part instructional. There's the
necessary history lesson, explaining how different eras in the game
forced changes in the philosophy of pitching, including the make-up
of the ball itself (and the reasoning behind these changes), and
less of the analysis of what pitch to throw in a given situation
than some modern day fans might like.

The author writes primarily about athletes he saw during his years
as a sportswriter for New York newspapers, such as Warren Spahn and
Johnny Sain, the outstanding Milwaukee Braves pitchers for whom the
phrase "Spahn and Sain then pray for rain" was coined; Don
Drysdale, the menacing Dodger righty who was never concerned about
getting his opponents' uniforms dirty by knocking them down with
close pitches; and Sandy Koufax, arguably the greatest southpaw in
spikes.

The author also pays tribute to some of the early pitching pioneers
from the 19th century, those roughhewn men whose behavior forced
innkeepers throughout the country to post signs declaring
"Ballplayers not welcome." Kahn gives nods of recognition to Cy
Young and Christy Mathewson, two of the early 20th century pitching
greats, and notes how much the art has changed over the past
century.

Other baseball titles by Kahn include GOOD ENOUGH TO DREAM, his
story of owning a minor league team; JOE AND MARILYN: A Memory of
Love, about two of America's most popular icons, DiMaggio and
Monroe; A SEASON IN THE SUN; MEMORIES OF SUMMER: When Baseball Was
an Art, and Writing about It a Game; and PETE ROSE: My Story.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan on January 22, 2011

The Head Game: Baseball Seen From the Pitcher's Mound
by Roger Kahn

  • Publication Date: April 2, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Sports
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0156013045
  • ISBN-13: 9780156013048