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Publisher's Summary

"This is the best baseball book I’ve read in years. Swing Kings is a love letter to small people with big ideas." (Sam Walker, author of The Captain Class)

From the Wall Street Journal’s national baseball writer, the captivating story of the home run boom, following a group of players who rose from obscurity to stardom and the rogue swing coaches who helped them usher the game into a new age.

We are in a historic era for the home run. The 2019 season saw the most homers ever, obliterating a record set just two years before. It is a shift that has transformed the way the game is played, contributing to more strikeouts, longer games, and what feels like the logical conclusion of the analytics era. In Swing Kings, Wall Street Journal national baseball writer Jared Diamond reveals that the secret behind this unprecedented shift isn’t steroids or the stitching of the baseballs, it’s the most elemental explanation of all: the swing. In this lively narrative romp, he tracks a group of baseball’s biggest stars - including Aaron Judge, J. D. Martinez, and Justin Turner - who remade their swings under the tutelage of a band of renegade coaches, and remade the game in the process.

These coaches, many of them baseball washouts who have reinvented themselves as swing gurus, for years were one of the game’s best-kept secrets. Among their ranks are a swimming pool contractor, the owner of a billiards hall, and an ex-hippie whose swing insights draw from surfing and the technique of Japanese samurai. Now, as Diamond artfully charts, this motley cast has moved from the baseball margins to its center of power. They are changing the way hitting is taught to players of all ages, and major league clubs are scrambling for their services, hiring them in record numbers as coaches and consultants. And Diamond himself, whose baseball career ended in high school, enlists the tutelage of each swing coach he profiles, with an aim toward starring in the annual Boston-New York media game at Yankee Stadium.

Swing Kings is both a rollicking history of baseball’s recent past and a deeply reported, character-driven account of a battle between opponents as old as time: old and new, change and stasis, the establishment and those who break from it. Jared Diamond has written a masterful chronicle of America’s pastime at the crossroads.

©2020 Jared Diamond (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Swing Kings

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Hell of a book

Great listening to Jared tell the story of the people who transformed the way baseball is taught and played. looking forward to the sequel in 5 yearz that recounts what pitchers did to strike back.

5 people found this helpful

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This book takes a technical concept and turns it into a well-woven and interesting story. Good stuff.

I read all the books in this genre and with that said I’d highly recommend this book, even for the casual baseball fan. This book takes a technical concept and turns it into a well-woven and interesting story! Nice work Jared.

-Bo

4 people found this helpful

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Great book. If you’re curious about the how and why hitting has changed...this is worth a listen/read

I really enjoyed this book. It has ups and downs, failure and eventual successes. The game of baseball has had many trends and ways to play. This could just be another season in its history, whatever the case is, careers have changed and it’s not likely to go back to the early days. Ted Williams philosophies on hitting are fresh once again because of the people mentioned in this book.

A great read/listen. I recommend this for the curious and speculative.

3 people found this helpful

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Great story. Poor narration.

Well-reported and well-written book, though I wish the author had omitted the parts where he inserted himself into the story.

The narrator has a nice voice, but it is way too intense for a book like this. He sounds like he should be the narrator of a thriller novel. Horrible casting.

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not *that* jared diamond or *that* bob tewksberry

in-depth analysis of the post-moneyball player development revolution from the perspective of the "ted Williams swing" revival. although he delivers his story like the rookie he is, diamond also delivers an allstar performance explaining the game's recent changes focused on redesigning the *wrong* swing that's been taught for decades.

2 people found this helpful

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I had a front row seat to most of this book

I was fortunate to becomes good friends with several of the “swing kings” in the book that I first met on Twitter. I watched as much of this book happened before my eyes. I heard many of the insider stories that are shared as they were happening. Jared does an amazing job letting the story unfold, of helping you understand this cast of characters and the impact they have on the current game of baseball and the understanding of the swing.

As a follow up today, I am a co-founder with Bobby Tewksbary and Chris Colabello in a new player development platform called Pelotero. Bobby and Chris’ impact to the game has only just begun. Thank you Jared for a great read/listen.

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Great Documentary

I have studied everyone of these gurus never thinking someone would Chronicle them as a story

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Awesome 👍

learned so much about the pioneers in the modern Age of baseball! Its a Must Read!

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Great story

I loved the story of the men (and now women) who are changing the game of baseball. Craig Wallenbrock, Doug Latta and Robert Van Scoyoc are pioneers in the baseball field and Jared does a fantastic job of portraying their stories

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So-So

In short, some guys thought the way hitting was taught was wrong, so they watched a lot of film of the great hitters of yore and came to the conclusion that hitting the ball in the air was preferable to hitting it on the ground. To hit the ball in the air was accomplished by swinging up rather than down. Who’d a thunk? The first eight hours of the narration told their stories and it got tedious since, in essence, their stories are pretty much the same.