A Review: Baseball Fantography: A Celebration in Snapshots and Stories from the Fans

Fans are no doubt what make the game of baseball so popular, especially at the Major League level. Over time, the players who have noticed this and focused on being a fan favorite have been able to overcome hitting slumps or pitching doldrums in the public eye much easier than those who may not be so kind to the fans.

In the new book Baseball Fantography: A Celebration in Snapshots and Stories from the Fans put together by Andy Strasburg, readers are going to get the game told to them in a very familiar fashion: from the fan’s perspective.

This nearly 200 page book is packed with pictures taken by common, ordinary, everyday fans. While many of the pictures certainly have a hint or professional quality, part of the uniqueness of this book is that there wasn’t an effort made to refocus the pictures that come through as a little blurry or to perhaps change the center of the picture so the angle is more artistically pleasing. This was done because the writer of the book wanted other fans to see these pictures just as the fans who took the pictures have seen them for so many years.

Strasburg, a former executive with the San Diego Padres, took on this project in conjunction with his consulting firm that offers marketing expertise to baseball personalities, teams, leagues, and has many notable clients including the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Well known broadcaster Bob Costas penned the foreword for this book. Although his writings are only present on one page of the work, he does a good job introducing what is to come during in the pages that follow his and prepares the reader to get in the fan’s frame of mind.

While the main focus of the book clearly is photography taken by fans, this is by no means all that it offers. Each chapter offers historical facts and tidbits about the game that may only be known to a fan who is so wrapped up in following one specific player they happen to idolize. This book is full of the perception of fans who are harkening back on their youth to a time that they remember being completely enamored with a particular player for, perhaps, no good reason at all.

These pictures aren’t unlike many that most people may have seen on the desks of their colleagues or in the den at their friend’s house. This collection was started when the author pulled out a dust filled picture of himself with his arm placed over Roger Maris’ shoulder in the outfield of the original Yankee Stadium. When he looked at this picture many years later, he realized that he couldn’t be the only baseball fan out there with photographs from long ago that could have nostalgic purposes not only to the person in the picture, but to others with similar stories as well. Many of the photographs are from Spring Training as that is when many fans have their change to get closer to the players than ever before. It also happens to be the time when the players are loose and the most relaxed about their behavior.

While the reader will certainly hear from the fans who took the pictures, and from Strasberg, who is nothing more than a very serious fan himself, they will also be treated to some words of wisdom from professionals within the game of baseball. Among those who shared their expertise in this book are former St. Louis Cardinal Shortstop Ozzie Smith and Dave Baldwin who not only pitched in the Majors for six seasons, but also holds a PhD in genetics.

This book would be ideal for a coffee table of a baseball fan, as leafing through the pages will lead anyone who has ever experienced any part of the game will have a story to tell. This clearly isn’t serious reading and could be a nice spring change of pace as fans get ready for the upcoming season.

Overall Rating: 3/5

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