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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times baseball columnist, an enchanting, enthralling history of the national pastime as told through the craft of pitching, based on years of archival research and interviews with more than 300 people from Hall of Famers to the stars of today.

The baseball is an amazing plaything. We can grip it and hold it so many different ways, and even the slightest calibration can turn an ordinary pitch into a weapon to thwart the greatest hitters in the world. Each pitch has its own history, evolving through the decades as the masters pass it down to the next generation. From the earliest days of the game, when Candy Cummings dreamed up the curveball while flinging clamshells on a Brooklyn beach, pitchers have never stopped innovating.

In K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, Tyler Kepner traces the colorful stories and fascinating folklore behind the 10 major pitches. Each chapter highlights a different pitch, from the blazing fastball to the fluttering knuckleball to the slippery spitball. Infusing every moment with infectious passion for the game, Kepner brings listeners inside the minds of combatants 60 feet, six inches apart.

Filled with priceless insights from many of the best pitchers in baseball history, including 22 Hall of Famers - from Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan to Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera, and Clayton Kershaw - K will be the definitive guide on pitching and join such works as The Glory of Their Times and Moneyball as a classic of the genre.

©2019 Tyler Kepner (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Tyler Kepner knows his stuff - by which I mean the plethora of possible assaults on the strike zone that have created the modern game: splitters, spitters, sinkers, sliders. It’s all here: Cy Young’s whistler; Sandy Koufax’s 12-to-6 curve; the fadeaway that made Matty famous before it became a screwball and revived Warren Spahn’s career. K is an education in the history, mechanics and language of pitching and as rich with detail as the craft it describes. This is inside baseball at its best. A must read for any fan who aspires to be in the know." (Jane Leavy, New York Times best-selling author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy and The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created)

“There has been so much good writing on the subject of baseball that you sometimes wonder if there can be a fresh way to go about it. But Tyler Kepner turns the trick. Analytical and anecdotal, insightful and entertaining, K is a welcome addition to the baseball bookshelf.” (Bob Costas) 

“Kepner, the national baseball writer for the New York Times, has chosen a nifty conceit. He’s organized his history of the game around the 10 major types of pitches.... The result is a fascinating tour of the sport as seen from the mound.” (Robert Birnbaum, The Washington Post)

Featured Article: The Best Baseball Audiobooks of All Time


Ask any baseball fan and they'll tell you: some of their favorite sounds can only be heard at the ballpark—the smooth, satisfying pop of a catcher’s glove as a pitch hits its mark; the crack of a bat as it tears into a fastball, explosive and hopeful, drawing the crowd to their feet. Our list, a roundup of outstanding baseball audiobooks, offers a glimmer of that same ballpark magic with just a few of the greatest stories from our national pastime.

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What listeners say about K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches

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  • Overall
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The Perfect Baseball Book

Pitching mechanics, grips, history, funny stories, batter accounts, pitcher accounts... this book provides it all! Absolutely terrific read. Bonus point: no social lecturing! The last few sports books I have read all seemed to be going fine, and then out of nowhere, Boom! [insert unnecessary divisive political talking point]. Kepner’s politics-free take on baseball is by far the best sports book I’ve ever read. Well worth your time. You will be entertained and informed.

4 people found this helpful

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Attn authors: please use professional narration.

I love baseball, and I loved the book. However, most authors make for terrible narrators...and this is no exception. I can certainly understand why the author would want to read their own work, but I’m sure listeners return books (or don’t by them) based on the narration. I know I do.

5 people found this helpful

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A comprehensive look

at all 10 pitches. The author uses hall of fame and former pitchers to explain each type of pitch in the game. Each pitch is picked apart from its humble beginnings to who made it famous. Every great pitcher living or dead is highlighted in this wonderful book. A must read for all baseball fans.

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome book with great insights

I absolutely loved reading this book. if you are a baseball fan you will really enjoy this book. Does a great job at intertwining how the different pitches are thrown and the history of the game. Provides great insights into how pitchers adapted and learned from one another how to throw these different pitches.

2 people found this helpful

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Great stories, but thats all

Great stories, but thats all. No thesis, no conclusion to show what the collection of pitches mean for the past, present, or future of baseball.

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Awesome for any fan especially fans of pitching

Amazing book written in a unique way. Each chapter is dedicated to one pitch, the origins of the pitch, the greats that have thrown it and contemporaries. Quotes from hitters, catchers, and of course pitchers make for a full understanding.

As a former college pitcher I loved every page but playing experience is NOT necessary at all.

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Helps fans appreciate different kinds of pitches

It's interesting how every pitcher has his own unique pitches - even though they are generally classified as fast ball, curve, change up, etc.

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Can listen to multiple times

Great listen for the baseball fan . I've listened to it multiple times now. it's nice easy listening when you are tired of work and politics

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a great baseball book

just a great baseball book especially if you want to learn more about pitching. The audiobook was very good. The narrator was pleasant and clear and had a flexible and easy to listen to presentation. The one thing I would have missed which I assumed would be in the printed version is diagrams about grips Etc. However, this does not detract from the overall experience of the book and it's a very solid content.

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Must read for baseball fans

If you like a little hit of history and you like baseball this is a well crafted yarn of storytelling. The author brings in everyone from Babe Ruth to Tommy John to Steven Strasburg. I also appreciate the background of each of these pitches’ development and (in some cases) ongoing controversy.

Play ball!