Monday, October 19, 2009
Sayonara Home Run
If this book could have figured out what it wanted to be, it could really have been awesome. Instead, it's just sort of nice.
Sayonara Home Run is about Japanese baseball cards. Subtitled "The art of the Japanese baseball card", the book is, appropriately, extremely heavy on the pictures and light on text. But there's my problem with the book. With all the fantastic pictures, it could have been a wonderful coffee-table type book on Japanese cards. There are great images of both the bromide and menko style cards and the pictures cover all eras of Japanese cards. So why not make it a solid pictorial book? Give it a good binding, a hardcover and make it something that people would have out to look at and admire.
The publisher didn't do that, though. It is a softcover book and the binding is sort of odd. I would have loved to scan some of the pages to show you the images in the book but I'm really afraid of cracking the binding and pages coming loose (this is a problem with being fanatical about condition like I am). Likewise, I wouldn't really want people leafing through it and handling it because of the nature of the binding. It was difficult to want to even open it up because it felt so delicate.
Given all the pictures from across eras, having some good writing would have made it an excellent history book. No such luck. The text is minimal, really a bunch of sidebar-esque essays, and despite there being such little text, there were some notable errors.
The two most glaring were the mention of a 19th century Japanese player being a fan of the Boston Red Sox. The Boston team in the 19th Century was known as the Red Stockings or Reds. The Red Sox nickname was not used until 1908. There is also a picture captioned "Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig" where Ruth is shaking hands with a player who looks Japanese. Perhaps you could chalk it up as a bad hair day for Gehrig except for the fact that he is also wearing a catcher's mitt on his left-hand. Gehrig, of course, was not a catcher and threw left-handed.
When you don't have that much material to edit and you still can't get it right, it really calls into question the validity of all the information in the book.
If you're a fan of baseball cards, though, it's a neat book to pick up. Strangely, despite it being only three years old, Amazon does not carry it. New copies can be bought online through other bookdealers, though, or through eBay for under ten bucks. Of course, once you see the cards, you may end up on eBay trying to spend some more money to pick up some Japanese cards of your own.