Intentional Balk by Daniel Levitt and Mark Armour

Seattle, WA–Two Widely Honored Baseball Experts Tackle the History of Cheating in America’s Pastime

From the moment of its inception, the quintessentially American sport of baseball has included cheating. Sometimes that rule-skirting has been embraced as ingenious hijinks; other times, reviled as an unforgivable trespass. But where is the line? Why is skipping bases less egregious than signing underage players? Is sign-stealing evidence of ingenuity, or does it fundamentally change the nature of the game?

In Intentional Balk, to be released in July by Clyde Hill Publishing, nationally recognized baseball historians Dan Levitt and Mark Armour examine cheating in baseball as the pursuit of a competitive edge that, in other endeavors, might be heralded as innovation.  

 

The authors trace baseball’s history of cheating—from the 1880s, when pitchers hiked up their pants to allow for higher throws, to recent steroid controversies that have mired America’s pastime in bitter courtroom battles. Wherever you come down on the question of what’s savvy and what’s merely scurrilous, Intentional Balk offers an engrossing chronicle of the players, coaches, groundskeepers and management who for more than 150 years have sought an advantage to win at all costs.

The New York Times baseball writer Tyler Kepner has hailed Intentional Balk as the definitive history of cheating in baseball:

“From fake foul tips to dugout disguises, sign stealing to sticky stuff, Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt don’t miss a trick — and that’s saying something when the subject is baseball, where rule-bending has always been part of the game,” he says. “Armour and Levitt teamed up for the definitive history of the baseball front office with In Pursuit of Pennants, and now they’ve written the definitive history of cheating in our national pastime. With meticulous research and a gripping narrative, Armour and Levitt give us a deeper understanding of the nuances between clever gamesmanship and an unfair edge — and, more broadly, between right and wrong.”

Levitt and Armour’s previous collaboration, In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), was heralded as a “must-read” book by the New York Post. Their first co-writing effort, Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way (Potomac Books, 2004), won the Sporting News-SABR Research Award. 

Both authors are officers at the Society for American Baseball Research, and both are regular speakers at SABR’s national conferences. (See below for further detail on each.)

Daniel R. Levitt
Dan Levitt has written four critically acclaimed books and dozens of essays illuminating the role of managers, owners and players in shaping baseball culture and history.

 He is the author of The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, which won the 2013 Larry Ritter Award. Dallas Morning News sportswriter Allen Barra described the book as “one of the most important historical baseball works so far this century.”  

 Levitt is the recipient of SABR’s prestigious Bob Davids Award, among numerous other honors, including SABR’s lifetime achievement award honoring baseball’s historians, statisticians, and archivists. Levitt is also an occasional commentator on MLB Network TV. 

A regular speaker at SABR’s annual convention, Levitt has presented at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture. His formidable knowledge and nuanced attention to detail enhance any fan’s love of the game.  

 More on Dan can be found at http://daniel-levitt.com/

 Mark L. Armour

Mark Armour’s specialty is writing about mid-20th century baseball history, labor relations, biographies and baseball cards. He has won numerous awards for his work, including SABR’s two most prestigious – the Bob Davids Award for contributions to the organization, and the Henry Chadwick Award for research.

Armour’s 2010 book, Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, was a finalist for the prestigious Seymour Medal. Armour has also edited books on the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest. 

In 2002, Armour created SABR’s Baseball Biography Project, a 20-year effort to publish substantial biographies of people across the entire history of baseball. The project has now published more than 5,000 biographies, with hundreds more in progress. Armour also was an advisor for “Shoebox Treasures,” a permanent exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame on baseball cards. 

Armour’s many leadership roles within SABR include his chairmanship of the Negro Leagues Task Force, which in early 2021 announced that SABR would thereafter recognize eight Negro Leagues as Major Leagues.  

More on Mark can be found at http://mark-armour.net/ 

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