Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. By Frank Schaeffer. Carroll & Graf/Da Capo. $26.
The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees, October 13, 1960. By Jim Reisler. Carroll & Graf/Da Capo. $26.
“Fanatic” is a loaded word nowadays, but it is one that Frank Schaeffer would probably have used proudly of himself in his younger days. The lengthy title of his book says it all. Schaeffer grew up in an evangelical community that his parents had founded in
Worship can go off the track even when it has nothing to do with religion. Witness The Best Game Ever, which is written for people who want to spend almost 300 pages reliving a baseball game that took place nearly half a century ago. If you are one of them, you will be as immune to criticism as Frank Schaeffer once was to rational thought – precisely that immune, since the idolization of sports figures and of a particular game in a particular sport is merely fanaticism in a church of the playing field. Jim Reisler has written a number of books about baseball, and his love of it comes through clearly throughout The Best Game Ever. That is all well and good; it is doubtful that anyone else will ever do a better job of recounting every single play of every single inning of the seventh World Series game between the Pirates and the Yankees in 1960. Reisler is an impressive researcher: he did numerous interviews for the book and searched newspaper and broadcast accounts of the game. His reconstruction of what happened that day is worthy of a subject such as a world-changing battle. But this was not a world-changing battle: it was a baseball game. The tremendous over-coverage of every aspect of its ins and outs is completely indefensible to anyone who is not fanatically addicted to this particular sport. To those for whom even fantasy leagues and endless debates about which historical player was better than which other one are not nearly enough, this book certainly qualifies as the Bible of October 13, 1960.