In theory, I’m probably one of worst people to review this book. It’s all about baseball and boy, do I hate baseball. I used to enjoy the sport when I was a kid. I played Little League, collected baseball cards (let’s hear it for the 1987 Topps series—the most overproduced set ever!), and went to games, both professional and minor league. Something happened in high school when I stopped giving a shit about sports and especially baseball. I think it was punk rock, but it may have also been existentialism, teenage angst, depression, or anxiety. I’m not sure.
And then I moved to Boston, where traditional religion is dead and sports have filled the void. The most important of all those faiths is that of Red Sox Nation, whose fans are fanatical beyond any degree I had previously known possible. (I moved here from Seattle and when their basketball team, the Sonics, asked for a new arena, the city told them not to let the door hit them in the ass on their way out of tyour own.) I do keep track of the Red Sox, but only to know when they’re playing at home so as to avoid the subway lines the fans take to the game.
Thus, when I saw Zisk in my review materials, I groaned. “This will not be pretty,” I thought to myself. And I felt especially bad because the book is edited by Razorcake contributor Mike Faloon and includes contributions from other Razorcake folks as well. But first the formalities: the book is a series of pieces taken from past issues of Zisk, a zine all about baseball. It’s been running since 1999 and has put out over twenty issues. The pieces included are essays, interviews, and columns, with each author giving his or her particular take on a baseball-related event. These pieces are grouped together by subject areas, including “Brushes with Fame,” “Fury Has Many Faces,” “Fiction and Humor,” “Musicians Talk Baseball,” “Ballpark Visits,” “Interviews with Players,” “Oddities of the Game,” and more.
But as you might guess from this lengthy introduction where I’ve clearly stated my potential to be disappointed, I was instead pleasantly surprised by Fan Interference. Not everything in it was up my alley, but there was so much packed in the book’s 226 pages that even though I didn’t like a number of things, there was still plenty in here for me to enjoy. See, despite my current distaste for baseball, I do have fond memories of it growing up as a child, especially learning the history of the game and about the greats from before my time (pre-1980s). Much like me, many of the writers in Fan Interference are older and have recollections that also correspond with mine (or go before mine).
Some favorites include: Kip Yates’s tour diary of his old-timey baseball team (circa 1876) that went on a barnstorming tour, Todd Taylor’s telling of the ill-fated White Sox promotion known as “Disco Demolition Night,” and Sean Carswell’s essay on attending one of the last games of the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium. Certainly there were others that were interesting, but those stick out the most. What I appreciated about these stories was in some cases their entertainment value but in other cases they connected with my interest in baseball history. The baseball nerd in me got a kick out of reading someone mention Vida Blue, Keith Hernandez, or Kirby Puckett.
It was more than just bringing back some fun memories, though. The writing here is quality, enjoyable, and told from the perspective of people who are just like you and me: fans of something. And whether that is being a fan of music, zines, or sports, there’s something about good writing and passion for a subject that I can appreciate. And for anyone who has ever had even a nominal interest in America’s pastime, I think that’s more than enough to enjoy Fan Interference. –Kurt Morris (Blue Cubicle Press, bluecubiclepress.com)