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Dog-Eared Corner: A Drive into the Gap

A little baseball book that delivers a big story

It’s hard to keep up with all the baseball news going on right now, what with all the nothing at all happening, but let’s talk about books again, shall we?

A while back I was purchasing some Field Notes notebooks and I noticed something different. It didn’t really look different, in fact, it looks no different than one of the brand’s flagship notebooks — olive drab with a brown cardboard band through the middle — but it was no mere notebook: it was a book. Even better, it was a baseball book. Reader, I probably don’t have to tell you that it was $10 I was happy to spend.

The book is A Drive into the Gap by Kevin Guilfoile and I’m not exactly breaking news about it. Field Notes first printed this in 2012, and even though I came to it late I am glad I found it.

A Drive into the Gap is a story about the author and his father, as so many baseball stories are, but this one is noteworthy because the father in this story spent time working public relations for the Yankees and Pirates and later became the Vice President of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It probably goes without saying that someone who worked those jobs has incredible stories to tell, but Bill Guilfoile also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and that makes his retellings less frequent and less reliable.

Over a tight 70 pages, A Drive into the Gap serves as part memoir, part epistolary novel, and part investigation as the author seeks to find the provenance of a Roberto Clemente bat and shed light upon the man he called “Dad.” In a book that measures just 4.5” by 6.5” and less than half an inch thick, Guilfoile delivers a great deal of pathos and humanity to all the characters and provides a truly compelling story from start to finish.

The whole thing takes probably less than an hour for anyone to read, but it’s very much worthwhile. It would be a great stocking stuffer or just a nice gift to yourself this holiday season, and you can get it direct from Field Notes, an independent stationery company out of Chicago.

When you’re done reading that and have caught up on all the … [checks news again] nothing happening in baseball, why don’t we all read another book together? Have your say in the poll below.

The Great American Novel by Philip Roth

3.61/5 stars on GoodReads, 2,403 ratings

The greatest and only homeless big-league ball club, but you’ve never heard of it because of a communist plot and capitalist scandal. Philip Roth’s satirical take on baseball is unlike any other. Irreverent and comedic, with a terribly unreliable narrator, Roth creates another world that’s just familiar enough to be believable.

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner

4.1/5 on Goodreads, 1,679 ratings

The central aspect of baseball is the one-on-one battle between pitcher and hitter. For this history, Kepner crafted each chapter as a different pitch, with stories and folklore and insights from the game’s greatest practitioners.

Winning Ugly by Todd Radom

4.14/5 stars on Goodreads, 71 ratings

An ode to the eyesores of baseball haberdashery, the so-bad-it’s-good and the downright awful. Graphic designer Radom breaks down the most memorable apparel in the game’s history.

Hit by Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball by Molly Lawless

4.2/5 on Goodreads, 50 ratings

A graphic novel about the only fatal accident in major league baseball history, when Carl Mays struck Cleveland’s Ray Chapman in the head with a fastball in 1920. With well-researched history and great visuals, Lawless brings the story to life.


What should we read next?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    The Great American Novel
    (4 votes)
  • 7%
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    Winning Ugly
    (1 vote)
  • 57%
    Hit by Pitch
    (8 votes)
14 votes total Vote Now