The late former Major League Baseball Commissioner and Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti has written an elegant and philosophical dissertation on the integral relationship of baseball and American life and leisure. Jacques Barzun once wrote that “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball,” and Giamatti’s excellent analysis of the spirit of American independence intertwined with the strong sense of community in our leisure time gives credence to that observation.[return]As sports fans, all of us have jumped to our feet in the midst of a game or performance. Giamatti’s insights into why that happens demonstrate the depth of his far-ranging thought. He writes, “And when in the midst of that free time activity a person on the field or fairway, rink, floor, or track, performs an act that surpasses – despite his or her evident mortality, his or her humanness – whatever we have seen or heard of or could conceive of doing our selves, then we have witnessed, full-fledged, fulfilled, what we anticipated and what all the repetition in the game strove for, a moment when we are all free of all constraint of all kinds, when pure energy and pure order create an instant of complete coherence. In that instant, pulled to our feet, we are pulled out of ourselves. We feel what we saw, become what we perceived.”[return]Giamatti also does not spare the “cult” of the young athlete in his incisive analysis of leisure and sport and their places in American life. He writes of young star athletes who discover their careers are over: “…there is no place in the general culture for them when they no longer fit in the cult…because no one told them or they refused to believe that there comes an end to running, an end to the cheers, an end to the life lived on the cuff, an end to the endless pleasuring of themselves.” He continues, “Blame or guilt is not the issue. The issue is to warn us against giving over our young as hostages to any powerful social convention, even one as seemingly innocent or pleasurable as sports.” Powerful observations such as these deserve to be read again and again and pondered by everyone, not only those whose careers are in the sports industry. We fans are part and parcel of this phenomenon.[return]In his insightful analysis of the geometry of baseball and its relationship to force and energy, readers who are not die-hard fans of the sport may find the explanation a bit lengthy and repetitive, but for those of us who do truly believe baseball is inextricably interlaced with American life, it rings true and presents another valuable dimension to the almost hypnotic draw of life on the baseball diamond.[return]Baseball fans who spend time musing about the philosophy of baseball and its relationship to life in America today will truly enjoy this book. Sports fans who are more than just the “put the feet up and pop a beer” type of fan will also appreciate Giamatti’s profound analysis and insights into American life and culture. The sad counterpoint to all of this is that Giamatti is no longer with us, and we cannot look forward to more of his beautiful and philosophical observations.