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"The Dark Side of the Diamond"

The title notwithstanding, Roger Abrams, the author of The Dark Side of the Diamond, regards baseball with reverence. For him, no matter what vices may surface, "the eternal virtues of the game ultimately triumph."

Accordingly, there is much celebration of baseball here, for which Mr. Abrams quotes such fans as Roger Angell, Bart Giamatti, and, of course, Jacques Barzun, who wrote "whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball..."

When it comes to acknowledging that baseball has been fraught with rogues, rascals, crooks, and addicts, Abrams hauls out plenty of the usual suspects. Few readers will be surprised to learn that Ty Cobb was nuts, that Mickey Mantle drank, and that Gaylord Perry coated his pitches with whatever he thought might make them dance.

The fun of this book is in the stories most readers won't have heard. Pittsburgh pitcher Pud Galvin had been injected with an extract derived from the testicles of a guinea pig and a dog when he beat Boston, 9-0, on August 13th...1889. It's the sort of historical precedent bound to suggest a revised context for the current discussion of steroids, isn't it?

This program aired on March 7, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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