Author: Tristram Potter Coffin, with a foreward by Craig Breslow
Publisher: Rvive Books
Sports (Baseball), Non-Fiction, Literature, Critical Review
Publication Date: April 2010
Book Length: 188 pages
While not a Jewish baseball collectible, per say — the topic of Mudville Heritage is the connection of baseball to classic folklore — the book includes a foreward written by A’s lefty specialist and Jewish Major Leaguer Craig Breslow.
Although the topic is, perhaps, promising, the book suffers from an overly academic feel, in my opinion. Like Tristram Potter Coffin's name, the author's writing style is overly high brow. I found the book to be a plodding read and frequently difficult to grasp. This was entirely disappointing, given the promise of the title and my passion for all things baseball, especially writing about the sport.
While I appreciate the serious scholarly efforts undertaken by Prof. Coffin, it seems to me that he has taken much of the joy out a whimsical game, albeit one richly deserving of academic study on numerous fronts, including literary influence.
This is, perhaps, due to the fact that Coffin originally wrote the book in the 1960s. The Rvive Books release is a re-titled, re-lease of the original issue. As such, the language is dated and not politically correct in today’s parlance.
Maybe I've missed the boat on this one. In his review of the work on Never Too Much Baseball, Gabriel
Schechter raves. Ron Kaplan — the well-respected blogger, Jewish sports writer and book reviewer — alludes to a review of Mudville Heritage on Kaplan's Baseball Book Shelf in a recent Facebook posting; alas, I don't know what he thinks, as the link is dead (a confession: I've been meaning to post this review since late May, and it was Ron's posting that pushed me to get off my literary duff! thanks, Ron).
I certainly appreciate the review copy provided to me by Rvive Books. That said, I stand by my review. Unless you are a serious scholar, the foreward may be the best part of the book (and I must admit, I struggled at times to understand it), and is certainly the greatest appeal to Jewish baseball collectors.
On that subject, I intend to mail my copy of the book to Breslow in an attempt to have it signed. He's been a willing in-person signer in the past, but I don't know about the pitcher's TTM habits. If I am successful, I’ll be glad to retain Mudville Heritage as part of my collection.
Have you read the book? What were your thoughts?