The excitement that gripped Toronto during the Blue Jays' run through the Major League Baseball playoffs seems like a long time ago now. Maybe not as far back as Toronto's history with the game, which goes all the way back to the 1850s, but still...if you're a baseball fan, you're probably tired of the seventh-inning stretch otherwise known as "winter."
The good news is that today is the first day of spring training, which means a brand new season is rounding third and headed for home! The weather outside doesn't really bring to mind lazy summer afternoons spent lounging in the bleachers, but why not sit down with a few of the latest baseball books available at Toronto Public Library while you're waiting for the Jays to kick off their 2016 season?
Almost a century later, it's still one of the biggest scandals in sports history; eight Chicago White Sox players, including all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson, conspired to throw the 1919 World Series in return for $20,000 from gamblers allegedly associated with organized crime. In 1988, this story was also told in a film named Eight Men Out.
Jennifer Ring's chronicle of the often forgotten history of women in baseball centres on members of Team USA who competed in the fourth Women's Baseball World Cup in 2010. Their diverse backgrounds, retold in a series of oral histories, are a testament to the enduring appeal of baseball across different racial, economic and cultural lines.
Everyone (justifiably) knows Jackie Robinson's name, but do you know who the first Japanese player in the major leagues was? In 1964, the San Francisco Giants called Masanori Murakami up from the minor leagues in the middle of a pennant race. When his curve ball proved capable of dominating American hitters, they attempted to sign him for a contract in 1965, but a Japanese team still owned his contract and Murakami was caught between his homeland and his dreams of playing in America. The resulting dispute escalated into an international incident which would prevent any other Japanese players from playing in the US for 30 years.
Major League Baseball's 162-game season is by far the longest of the most popular North American pro sports (and that's not even counting spring training or the playoffs), and Barry Svrluga's inside look at the Washington Nationals' 2014 season will give you a new perspective on the toll it takes on the players, their families and the large but invisible supporting cast required to keep a professional baseball team running smoothly.
Of course, what you see on the playing field is just half the story. The Game tells the story of the behind-the-scenes economic machinations which helped turn America's National Pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry complete with political deal-making and constant battles for power between the players and the owners.