Review: Fastpitch

There’s a lot I didn’t know about womens’ fastpitch softball.  I’d seen a few games that my niece played in and saw a few snippets when I passed a TV tuned to a game, but I really had no idea about the history or traditions of the game.  Erica Westly has helped me out by writing a lively history of the game and some of the folks who pioneered it.  While softball has been around long enough that its origins are no longer the stuff of the first person interview, the game has burst into the national consciousness recently enough that there are some movers and shakers around to talk with.  Not for long, though, so Westly’s work is timely and interesting.

One of the many things I was surprised to learn was that my current stomping grounds – SoCal – figures prominently in the sport’s history.  Champion teams of the past have come from here, both as the result of cultural traditions and careful team construction and as a result of lightning spontaneously jumping into a bottle.

I’m charmed and amazed that the Whittier Golden Sox were US champions in living memory and none of my sweetie’s family of lifelong Whittier residents seem to know or care.  Where I’m from, those people would have a sign.  And honestly, I think they do.  I’ll plan to look next time I’m in the area.

I remain a great lover of the history of such diversions, and Westly does a great job of whetting the reader’s appetite for both more history and to see the game continue to grow.  A sport this storied deserves to thrive more.  She does a great job with the personal and institutional history. Her analysis of the game’s merits makes them evident and believable.  Probably the only place I’d say the book falters is in making the game sing.  Given that my interest is piqued enough to seek a game out now, that’s a minor shortcoming.


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