Baseball in Asheville
"A History of Professional Baseball in Asheville,” Bill Ballew. 128 pp., softcover, $19.99. The History Press, 2007. 866-457-5971, historypress.net.
Among the beauties of minor league baseball is the threads it provides into all of baseball history. In Asheville, N.C., a minor league town since 1897, the threads include the likes of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, Jackie Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr., all of whom set foot on the field in the town that today is home to the Tourists, Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Bill Ballew, media relations director for that team, presents here a thorough and stat-laden overview of baseball in The Land of the Sky, beginning with that late-1800s start, an interruption in the early 1900s and the adoption of the name Tourists in 1915. The strong narrative is accompanied by scores of terrific photos, highlighted for this (Baltimore Orioles) fan by a heart-touching shot of a naive, pre-scowl Eddie Murray, his Hall-of-Fame major league career still a few years away. And here’s the news that Murray, the greatest switch-hitter ever, learned to hit from the left side in Asheville.
The Asheville baseball fan will be absorbed with every page here; the general fan delighted with baseball-thread nuggets throughout. Minor suggestions, perhaps for subsequent editions: An index would be extremely useful; and a year-by-year appendix of history of Asheville’s season records, managers and affiliations would make a great back-of-book addition.