09/09 Blue Jays Library in a Box: Hardball

Tuesday, September 29 2009 @ 09:47 PM EDT

Contributed by: Matthew E

A while ago Richard Griffin did his list of best baseball books. This was on it.

Title: Hardball

Published: Key Porter Books, 1990

# Pages: 198

Availability: Chapters/Indigo's site doesn't even admit that the book exists. Amazon has it used for cheap, though.

Written By: George Bell and Bob Elliott

Who Are: George Bell was the Jays' left fielder and DH from about 1983 through 1990; some of you may remember him. Bob Elliott is a longtime baseball writer with the Toronto Sun.

What's It About: It's about George Bell's life and career up until about halfway through the 1990 season. Why only halfway through the 1990 season? Because that's all the material they had when they decided to publish the book, I guess. So anybody hoping for Bell's take on the Jays kicking away the division lead to the Red Sox at the end of the year will be disappointed. (Not to mention Bell's years with the Cubs and White Sox.)

Pictures? Yes, a section of black-and-white pictures on glossy paper.

How's the Writing? Uh... it's actually pretty good, all things considered. Elliott is trying to write the thing in Bell's voice—that is, I assume that Bell didn't actually put pen to paper himself; he's supposed to be a bright guy but doesn't really come across as a man of letters—and I guess he succeeded, but then the problem is that we get the story in Bell's voice and that's not the best way of telling a story. I'm not a big Bob Elliott fan, but he held up his end. It's even one of the better edited of the Jays books I've done one of these on; I wasn't always being distracted by typos and misspellings.

George Bell is a man with a strong personality and opinions. That comes out in the book. Bell isn't quite so good at explaining himself, though, so when we get to things like the DH controversy in 1988, we know that Bell's mad, but we don't really get why he should be mad. Also, it seems like he's prone to interpreting everything that goes on around him on a personal level and only as it impinges on him specifically. It makes him kind of an interesting guy to read a book about, but not a particularly attractive one. I wonder what Elliott was thinking about as he wrote it all up.

Anyway. It's a well-crafted book, but slender and stronger on feel than actual insight, and while I respect it up to a point, I didn't really care for it. No rush to read it again.