Book Review: An Introduction to Baseball History, For Kids by a Kid

matt nadel amazing aaron to zero zippersSixteen-year-old Matt Nadel of Springfield, N.J., has been MLB.com’s youngest blogger for three years. And he’s an author, too. Matt’s first book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History, which came out as an eBook last year, is now out in paperback. 

It has met with widespread acclaim, garnering favorable reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, the book’s proceeds go to the ALS, Turn 2, Jackie Robinson, and Hall of Fame foundations.

Amazing Aaron traces baseball’s past (the subject of Matt’s blog, Baseball with Matt), from legendary players and teams to historic stadiums and crazy games. Focusing mainly on Major League Baseball, the book includes chapters for each letter of the alphabet. (For example, there’s “Booming Babe” and “Unbelievable Underdogs.”) 

While Matt’s prose can be a bit clunky at times, both his knowledge and his love for the game shine through in Amazing Aaron’s 96 pages. 

“I felt that [people] lacked the proper historical perspective to truly enjoy baseball today,” Matt writes in the introduction. He provides that perspective in a guide to the history of America’s Pastime that is well organized and comprehensive yet also concise. 

As well as explaining the basics of baseball history, Matt mentions pieces of obscure information that are quite interesting. Did you know that an MLB team once wore shorts instead of pants during a game, or that there is only one player with the last name “Johnson” in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Even diehard baseball fans will almost certainly learn something new from Amazing Aaron

Matt exudes a youthful enthusiasm in his writing, as only a kid can. Important or unbelievable sentences are followed by exclamation points, which helps the reader notice them. 

He also generally writes in short, easy-to-read sentences, and finishes most chapters with a paragraph explaining the chapter’s significance. While these ending paragraphs are often filled with clichés, they help the reader understand where each piece of baseball history fits in the overall puzzle. This keeps all the information from feeling overwhelming. 

While most of Amazing Aaron is facts, Matt includes some of his own opinions as well. He calls Babe Ruth “the greatest baseball player who ever lived,” Willie Mays “the greatest all-around baseball player of all time,” and Walter Johnson ”the greatest pitcher of all time.” He writes that the Yankees “have…the most amazing history of any team in Major League Baseball” and calls Fenway Park “the most legendary” MLB stadium. 

Most people don’t know enough about baseball history to have well-formed opinions about it. So it’s fascinating to see what Matt, an expert on the topic, thinks. 

Matt has come a long way since he began Baseball with Matt as a relatively anonymous 13-year-old in April 2012. In fall of that year, his blog was picked up by MLB.com, which made him the website’s youngest pro blogger. 

Now, three years later, Matt has interviewed a President and dozens of players; been profiled in Sports Illustrated, the New York Post, and the Tampa Tribune; appeared on the MLB Network; and, of course, secured a book deal. 

Just like Amazing Aaron, Matt’s blog is a treasure trove for baseball fans. Recent posts included an interview with a man who has caught thousands of baseballs over the years and an examination of the pitchers who have thrown an “immaculate inning” (nine pitches, all strikes, three strikeouts).

Maybe someday Matt will write another book. He should after a first effort that was by no means flawless, but superb nonetheless.

 

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