Spitball Magazine

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Spitball is a literary baseball magazine founded in 1981 and dedicated to poetry, short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews; all devoted to baseball. In 1983 Spitball established the CASEY Award to honor the authors and publishers of the best baseball books published each year. The CASEY was the first award of its kind, and it is widely recognized as the most prestigious award that a baseball book can be given.

 A key component of Spitball's mission is the timely publication of authoritative, lively, and appreciative reviews of quality baseball books. These reviews can be found in our Baseball Books Reviewed section. We also publish short and to-the-point reviews of current baseball books in the "Baseball Book News" column at the back of each issue of Spitball Magazine.

Spitball's Latest  News

July 2, 2021
Cincinnati, OH

Judges for 2021 CASEY Award Announced

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine announced today the names of the three people who will serve as Judges for the 2021 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year: Kostya Kennedy, Rob Langenderfer, and Larry Phillips. 
    Kostya Kennedy (Larchmont, NY) is a two-time winner of the CASEY Award for 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports which won the 2011 CASEY Award and Pete Rose: An American Dilemma, winner of the 2014 CASEY. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a recipient of a Pulitzer Fellowship, Kennedy was a staff writer at Newsday and covered the NHL for several years for Sports Illustrated. Also a contributor to publications such as the NY Times and The New Yorker, he is the former bass guitar player of the rock band Rychyrd Prychyrd.
    Rob Langenderfer (Florence, KY) received a M.A. degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 and a MSLS degree from the University of Kentucky in 2007. An editor & proofreader (2008-2020) for CASEY Award winner and prominent Negro League researcher John Holway, Rob has published reviews of baseball books in Library Journal and LJ Online. A lifelong Cincinnati Reds and Ted Williams fan, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum since 2016.
    Larry Phillips (Cincinnati, OH) retired from GE Aircraft Engines after 37 years of service. A member of the Cincinnati Vintage Base Ball Club, he served as a volunteer curator for the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, 2003-04. A Lifetime Subscriber to Spitball Magazine, Larry has attended every Induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, NY, since 1989, and he is a member of numerous historical and genealogical organizations.
    In releasing the names of the Judges, Mike Shannon, Editor of Spitball Magazine, said, "Once again, we are extremely pleased with the CASEY Award Judges panel that has been assembled. We have every confidence that these gentlemen will take the job seriously and do everything in their power to arrive at a decision that will be fair and just and reflect well on themselves, the authors and publishers Nominated as Finalists for this year's Award, and the CASEY Award itself, now in its 39th year of existence. As always, this trio of literate baseball fans has a tough job ahead of them, but we know that it will be an enjoyable one too. We thank them for their service and wish them good luck in accomplishing the mighty task ahead of them."

June 25, 2021
Cincinnati, OH 

CASEY Award Policy Announcement

    Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine has announced a policy to officially govern the administration of the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year: henceforward, at least one of the three Judges newly seated on the three-Judge CASEY Award panel each year must be a current subscriber of the Magazine. CASEY Award Judges are not paid, but they do receive complimentary Judges' copies of the baseball books Nominated as Finalists, plus the honor and satisfaction of being an integral part of the process which determines the greatest honor the author and publisher of a baseball book can receive. The 2021 competition marks the 39th year of the existence of the CASEY Award, which was inaugurated in 1983.
    According to Spitball Editor Mike Shannon, the announcement represents a formal declaration of what has been actual CASEY Award practice for some time. "When it comes to Judges for the CASEY, we are always looking for the same thing," he said. "We need people who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about both baseball and literature, and that pretty much defines the readership of Spitball Magazine. What this official policy does is recognize that fact, plus it gives us a chance to more deeply involve, even if it is one person at a time, our readership in the CASEY Award process. Our subscribers, in other words, begin to have a more proprietary relationship to the Award, which is a good thing. We have always invited our subscribers to nominate books for the CASEY Award each year, and we will continue to do that, but the opportunity to make nominations is open to everyone; including people who are not and have never been subscribers to Spitball Magazine. Being a Judge for the CASEY though is a much more important part of the overall process, and so we think it is only fair and natural that we ensure that our subscribers are always represented on the panel."
    Shannon went on to say that this policy does not necessarily limit the composition of any year's panel to one Spitball subscriber; it merely ensures the presence of at least one subscriber. "We are not only proud of the CASEY Award itself," said Shannon, "but also of everyone who has been a part of it all these years: the winning authors and publishers, of course, but in addition to them ... all the authors and publishers nominated as Finalists, all the wonderful publishers who have supplied their Nominated books to the Judges, the Judges who have done such a great job in fulfilling their duty, all the loyal supporters and attendees of the many CASEY Award ceremonies we have sponsored, and all the generous people who have hosted the CASEYs. It's been a concerted effort by a lot of great people, and we are grateful to them all."
    A related announcement about the Judges for the 2021 CASEY Award will be made in this space soon.

Spring 2021 Issue Has Been Mailed to All Subscribers, Contributors, Publishers, and Advertisers

The Spring 2021 issue of Spitball has been mailed out to all subscribers, contributors, advertisers, and publishers of reviewed books. Featuring another drop-dead gorgeous portrait on the cover, this time of former Chicago White Sox great Nellie Fox, the issue is the previously announced special on memoir. It includes 16 wonderful memoirs on a wide range of interesting baseball topics and events by the likes of C. W. Spooner, Bill Morgan, Tim Tocher, Thomas M. McDade, P. W. Kielty, C. Paul Rogers, Joseph Stanton, Kevin Sedelmeier, Meddy Ligner, Dwayne Brenna, and several others. This in addition to our usual fare of baseball poetry, book reviews, baseball art, and columns: the Spitball Interview with author Dennis Snelling and Brushes with Baseball with baseball glove artist Jim Garza of "Baseball Leather." This will be a most memorable issue of the Magazine. We thank all writers who submitted to Spitball for this special issue, and if you did and have not heard from us, please be advised that we are still considering all such submissions for consideration in a future issue; unless you notify us that you are withdrawing the submission. Also, if you attended the CASEY Awards back in March, remember that you too will be mailed a copy of this issue. Finally, if you are a baseball fan and love to read good literature about the game but are not a subscriber to Spitball ... what in the heck are you waiting around for? We've been doing this since 1981 ... waiting to hear from you!


    On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Tom W. Gilbert accepted the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year at the 38th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gilbert spoke for a half hour to a sell-out crowd of Spitball Magazine and baseball literature supporters about his CASEY-winning book, "How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed, the True Story Revealed" and sold numerous copies of the book which he graciously signed and inscribed. In a wide-ranging address Gilbert cited the true origins of baseball, explaining how the game was first developed by amateurs in New York City and Brooklyn and then spread by them into all corners of the nation until it could legitimately be called the country's National Pastime, a sporting and health-enhancing activity that was truly American in its conception and character. In the following question-and-answer session he also spoke about misconceptions surrounding the vaunted 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Once again, the crowd rose to the occasion in exhibiting their baseball knowledge, and attendees Steve Blessinger, Jerry Hazelbaker, and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning, "Mr. Perfect," took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates (suitable for framing) for answering difficult questions.
    Spitball congratulates Tom Gilbert and David R. Godine, Publisher, for producing the 2020 CASEY Award winner and extends sincere gratitude to the CASEY Award Judges for 2020 (Greg Gajus, Rob Neyer, and Lorine Parks) for a job well done. Spitball also thanks Poor Michael's Cafe and Karaoke Bar for hosting the 2020 CASEY Awards, all the dedicated baseball fans who attended the event, and Anne Jewell and the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum for producing the beautiful Louisville Slugger baseball bat which represents the CASEY Award.

How Baseball Happened Wins 2020 CASEY Award!

How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed
January 20, 2021 
Cincinnati, Ohio
Spitball is pleased to announce that How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed, written by Thomas W. Gilbert and published by David R. Godine, has won the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year. The ground-breaking history won in a landslide, garnering two first-place votes and one third-place vote from the three Judges.
    Judge Lorine Parks called it "By far the best - brilliant, stimulating, funny. Does for baseball what David McCullough did for U.S. history: places baseball firmly in the mainstream of American culture." Judge Greg Gajus called the book "a worthy successor to Baseball in the Garden of Eden" and said it added a lot of original insights to what we already knew about the period in a most entertaining way.
Spitball Editor Mike Shannon concurred, adding, "We congratulate Mr. Gilbert and his publisher David R. Godine for a book that clearly makes a major contribution to baseball literature. From the very first page of How Baseball Happened, the reader knows he is in for an exciting, often witty and amusing, ride through the game's earliest years. I know that Spitball supporters throughout the Cincinnati area, some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans to be found anywhere, are now looking forward to hearing Mr. Gilbert speak in March. I also congratulate Judges Parks, Gajus, and Rob Neyer on a job well done. They did exactly what they were called upon to do: compare superb books of different genres to determine which one makes the greatest overall contribution to baseball literature. Kudos all around!" 
    Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original, written by Mitchell Nathanson and published by the University of Nebraska Press, received the other first-place vote from the Judges and finished in second place.
    The 38th Annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place at 2:00 PM on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at Poor Michael's Sports Cafe and Karaoke Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 11938 Hamilton Avenue, just south of Fairfield, Ohio. For more information about the event and the CASEY Award program, please contact Mike Shannon at spitball5@hotmail.com.

November 23, 2020
Cincinnati, OH 

ISSUE # 86 in the Mail

The Fall 2020 issue of Spitball, #86, was mailed today to all subscribers, contributors, advertisers, and publishers whose books are reviewed in the issue. While the issue is a complete SELL OUT, we retain a few extra copies to remedy delivery failure. If you do not receive your copy of this issue by December 5, 2020, please contact Spitball immediately.

November 5, 2020
Cincinnati, OH

Finalists for 38th CASEY Award Announced

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is pleased to announce that the following books have been Nominated as Finalists for the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year:

Billy Ball: Billy Martin and the Resurrection of the Oakland A's * by Dale Tafoya * Lyons Press;

Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original * by Mitchell Nathanson * University of Nebraska Press;

The Cactus League (a novel) * by Emily Nemens * Farrar, Straus & Giroux;

Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher * by Bill Dembski, Alex Thomas, & Brian Vikander * Influence Publishing;

How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed * by Thomas W. Gilbert * David R. Godine, Publisher;

Issei Baseball: The Story of the First Japanese American Ballplayers * Robert K. Fitts * University of Nebraska Press;

Mutt's Dream: Making the Mick (novel) * by Howard Burman * Ascend Books;

Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball's Home Run Revolution * by Jared Diamond * William Morrow;

Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life * by Bill Madden * Simon and Schuster;

The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball's Afterlife * by Brad Balukjian * University of Nebraska Press; and

A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life * by Ethan D. Bryan * Zondervan Books.

Spitball Editor Mike Shannon had this to say about the announcement: "We are thrilled with this list of great baseball books that it is our honor to recognize, and we are pleased with the range of genres and subjects. As always, it was a huge challenge to narrow the contenders to a list of Finalists that the Judges can deal with in a thorough and timely manner, and we are confident that the Judges will single out the one book that deserves a bit more than the others to join the lineup of past CASEY Award winners. We congratulate all the Nominated authors and publishers and wish them luck in the competition. We also wish to tip our caps to all the authors of baseball books released in 2020, especially the ones whose books just missed making the final cut; and we thank all publishers who sent us review copies of their books for review and CASEY Award consideration (please see the "Current Baseball Books" page for a list of these publishers).

The 38th annual CASEY Awards celebration will take place in March of 2021, and details about the exact date and location of the ceremony will appear on this website in the near future.

Fall Issue #86 at the Printer
October 11, 2020
Walton, KY

The Fall issue of Spitball is now at the printer and will soon be ready for us to mail to all subscribers, contributors, advertisers, and publishers whose books are reviewed in the issue. Once again, Donnie Pollard's stunningly beautiful artwork graces the cover, a portrait of 2020 Hall of Famer, Larry Walker in Montreal Expos garb, which looks very nostalgic now, doesn't it! This issue is jam-packed with great baseball reading: a review of the great baseball poetry chapbook, I Saw Rod Scurry; Mark Schraf's hilarious, must-read "Cooperstown Report" (yes, the Hall of Fame doesn't know it, but
Mark did cover the 2020 Inductions, in a manner of speaking!); wonderful short stories by Tim Tocher and Bob Mayberry; terrific poems by Edwin Romond, Ken Moon, Tony Gruenwald, Milton Jordan, Michael Ceraolo, LeeAnn Pickrell, Joel Glickman, Thomas M. McDade, and Thomas Reynolds; a memorable account of the annual Cobb-Jackson rivalry vintage baseball game by Nick Straatman; book reviews; a Card Blanche rumination on Mickey Rivers; and more. All in all, a fantastic lineup of great baseball writing you just won't find anywhere else. If you love baseball and literature and you are NOT a subscriber to the only magazine, established in 1981 and published continuously since then, that is devoted to literary writing, books, and art about baseball ... what in the heck are you waiting for?

October 10, 2020
Walton, Kentucky

2020 CASEY Award Judges Panel Seated

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is pleased to announce that the Judges for the 38th annual CASEY Award will be: Greg Gajus, Rob Neyer, and Lorine Parks. Greg Gajus (Batavia, OH) is a well-known baseball analyst who has contributed to numerous books and the Redleg Nation blog. He is also co-author of 2019 CASEY Award Finalist Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous. As a baseball analyst and writer Rob Neyer (Portland, OR) has worked for ESPN, SB Nation, Fox Sports, and STATS Inc. He is the author of seven baseball books, including Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game, which won the 2018 CASEY Award. A graduate of Wellesley College and Columbia University, Lorine Parks (Downey, CA) taught English Literature at Saginaw Valley College. A lover of all sports and a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, she curates a weekly "Poetry Matters" column for the Downey Patriot. Spitball Editor Mike Shannon had this to say about the panel: "We could not be happier with or more confident in the abilities of the panel seated today to do the important work of judging this year's baseball books in order to determine the book most deserving of baseball literature's highest and most distinguished honor. This trio faces, as every CASEY Award panel does, a daunting task, but we feel that this group will come through splendidly, and we look forward to seeing the results of their hard work." Finalists for the 2020 CASEY will be announced in early November. Any author or publisher of a baseball book, published in 2020 and not already sent to Spitball for review and CASEY Award consideration, is reminded of this deadline and urged to send a copy of their book to the Magazine immediately!

Jeremy Beer Accepts 37th CASEY Award for "Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball's Greatest Forgotten Player"

    On Sunday, August 30, 2020, Jeremy Beer accepted the 37th annual CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year from Spitball Editor Mike Shannon at Wiedemann's Brewery and Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Beer spoke for 25 minutes before a knowledgeable and appreciative crowd of Cincinnati-area baseball fans about the subject of his important biography, which has rescued one of the game's greatest players from the dust bin of baseball history. Beer explained that Charleston must be considered among a handful of the very best players, black or white, because of his unmatched resume. He said that Charleston's greatness consisted of four factors: his unmatched playing ability as an all-around great hitter, defender, and base runner/base stealer; his supremacy as a championship manager in Negro League baseball; his pioneering status as the first black scout employed by a team in the white major leagues; and the difficulties he routinely and bravely overcame to achieve his many accomplishments. At the conclusion of his remarks Mr. Beer took questions from the crowd for another 20 minutes and took a few practice swings with his beautiful blue & gold Louisville Slugger CASEY Award baseball bat. He now joins the pantheon of previous CASEY Award winners.

    Prior to the presentation of the CASEY Award to Mr. Beer, the "Spitball Magazine crowd" once again displayed its amazing knowledge of baseball history during a shout-it-out trivia quiz, based on questions taken from 2019 baseball books; and Greg Gajus, Deron Grothaus, John "Hondo" Skurkay, and Rob Langenderfer took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates, "suitable for framing." All 2019 baseball books received by Spitball for review were on display; and, as usual, BALLZAK, the Magnificent (aka Steve Blessinger) wowed the crowd with his humorous prognosticating abilities. Greg Gajus also accepted a Finalist Nomination Award for Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous. Spitball thanks the 2019 CASEY Award Judges, Dave Grob, Michael Leahy, and C.W. Spooner, for a job well done; Jon and Betsy Newberry of Wiedemann's Brewery for graciously hosting the 37th annual CASEYs; Jim Crowley, Doug King, and Eric Soergel for a great job as pinch-hit introducers of the Nominated Finalists during the official program; and especially all the patrons of the CASEY Awards who braved "the elements" to attend the event.

It's Always Baseball Season Here!

Yes, here at Spitball we too are disappointed that the baseball season hasn't started yet. But the postponement of the season due to the current health crisis doesn't mean that there is no baseball. Not when a new issue of Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is right around the corner. The new, Spring 2020 issue is at the printer, and we hope to send it off to all subscribers soon. And what an issue it will be! In the "Spitball Interview" baseball travel writer Chris Epting tells us about his dream job, while in "Brushes with Baseball" innovative baseball card artist Matthew Lee Rosen gives us insight into how he creates his mind-blowing display pieces. Rich Puerzer provides a wonderful short story about the immortal Satchel Paige, that is beautifully counter-balanced by Dennis Bartel's amusing memoir about trying to even foul tip a Tom Seaver batting practice pitch. Terrific poems by Lorine Parks, Ken Moon, William Derge, Bill Keen, James Scruton, Chris Fahy, Joe Carriero, Mike Ceraolo, Douglas Malan, Thomas Reynolds, and Editors Mike Shannon and Mark Schraf round out the pleasurable reading. Add a "Card Blanche" rumination about the classic 1955 Topps Doubleheader set, another superb short story illustration by Richard Tomasic, and cover artist Donnie Pollard's show-stopping portrait of Dave Parker, along with his cover design that simply reeks with nostalgia for 1970s era baseball ... and you have an antidote to the season delay that will help you survive the baseball doldrums in style. If you consider yourself an intelligent baseball fan but you are not a subscriber to Spitball ... what in the heck are you waiting for! 
    And if you want to know the latest about the new crop of baseball books that have been released already for 2020, then check out the "Current Baseball Books" page on this website. The new books for this spring are all listed there ... just another service provided for those who love baseball and literature provided by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine.

Friday March 13, 2020

37th Annual CASEYs Postponed

Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine regrets to announce that the 37th annual CASEY Awards ceremony has been postponed.

The event will re-scheduled for a later date at Wiedemann's Brewery, once the current health crisis has been averted.

Please continue to check this website for the re-scheduled date and additional information as it becomes available.

Rob Neyer Wows 'em at 36th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet 

The 36th annual CASEY Awards Banquet was another sold-out affair and was highlighted by CASEY Award-winner Rob Neyer's fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of his winning book, Power Ball, and recent analytical trends which have dominated the game at the major league level and caused some fans to consider that game less interesting than its predecessor. The usual festivities were part of the afternoon, including door-prize give-aways, a shout-it-out trivia quiz based on 2018's baseball books, a display of all baseball books published in 2018, an appearance by BALLZAK, the Magnificent, a rundown of all books Nominated as Finalists for the 2018 CASEY, and Mr. Neyer's acceptance speech. After his formal remarks, Neyer took questions from the audience for almost 45 minutes. Author John Erardi was also on hand and accepted a Nomination Award for his biography, Tony Perez : From Cuba to Cooperstown. It was another very special event, and Spitball thanks all the Nominated authors and publishers, everyone who helped stage the event, especially Scott Schmidt of Crosley's Sports Bar & Eatery, and all those loyal fans of baseball literature who attended. It's because of that latter group that the CASEY Awards Banquet has become the premier Hot Stove League event on the baseball calendar!


It's official: Spitball now has a new mailing address, and all books for review, submissions, and correspondence should be mailed to:
536 Lassing Way
Walton, KY 41094
Please make a note of our new address.

Complete sets of Spitball Magazine are not available, as numerous past issues are completely SOLD OUT. We do, however, offer back issue lots, containing 15-17 different back issues. The differing number of issues available is the result of supplies on hand and finds/repurchases of past issues. The current price of the Back Issues Lot is $30, postpaid.

PayPal Function Available for Purchase of Sample Copies
Sample copies may now be purchased via the PayPal function on this website. Simply go to the Store page and scroll down until you see "Sample Copy: $6" right below the "Lifetime Subscriber" offer.

New Price in Effect; Recognition for Lifetime Subscribers Coming Soon
When you invest in a LIFETIME Subscription to Spitball, you not only avoid the hassle of renewing every year, thereby saving us the trouble of reminding you to do so, you also guarantee that you will never miss an issue of the magazine. Ever. Most important of all, you help support the second oldest all-baseball periodical extant and the only one that is of a literary nature. The price for a LIFETIME Subscription has gone up $25 to $125, but that is still a remarkable value. Make yourself the envy of all your baseball buddies by becoming a Spitball LIFETIME Subscriber today! Visit the store page of this website to order your lifetime subscription.  

Lifetime Subscribers are now acknowledged on a special page on the Spitball website. In addition, each Lifetime Subscriber is presented, as a token our appreciation, with a handsome certificate, meant to be framed and hung proudly in his home or office. Thanks to all subscribers and especially to those who have made a lifetime commitment to the Magazine.

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