About Right Off the Bat

This site provides news and information about Right Off the Bat: Cricket, Baseball, Literature, and Life by Evander Lomke and Martin Rowe, published July 11, 2011, by Paul Dry Books. (This book is also available for sale as an audiobook, here or here.) Cricket and baseball share a parallel and occasionally intertwined history (the first international cricket match was played in the United States). Indeed, they have mirrored their countries’ struggles with identity and race, and have expanded beyond the shores of their founding countries to become multinational sports commanding global followings that are, even now, challenging the future of both sports. To that end we make the following declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that baseball and cricket are created equal, and are endowed by the Umpire with certain inalienable pleasures, that among these are the need for good hand–eye coordination, the freedom to fail frequently, and the pursuit of a sphere all around a green park. That to secure these pleasures, Teams are instituted among Men (and Women), deriving their just powers from the consent of the fans,— That whenever any Team (or Manager) becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Fan to kvetch, throw things, write blogs, and ask themselves why they ever allowed themselves to fall under the sway of said Team (or Manager).

Right Off the Bat is a lover’s lament to these much-traduced and battered games—games that have throughout their history at once failed to live up to the mighty claims made for them and yet exceeded everyone’s expectations. They are living testaments to freedom and bondage, independence and imperialism, individual triumph and collective failure. Fascinating and infuriating, on the verge of wholesale collapse and on the cusp of a revival, baseball and cricket—like life itself—are quotidian, timeless, banal, and magnificent.

Evander Lomke (right) has worked in book publishing for over thirty years wherein he edited 1,200 titles (including the ground-breaking Encyclopedia of American Literature as well as books by two U.S. Presidents), and is the executive director of the American Mental Health Foundation, among its charitable work also publishers of Erich Fromm. A lifelong Yankees fan, it’s only fitting that he lives in the Bronx, New York. Martin Rowe is the co-founder of Lantern, a book publishing and media company, and author of two novels (Nicaea: A Book of Correspondences and Bertie Wooster and the Lizard King [the latter banned by the P. G. Wodehouse Estate]). He is also the editor of a non-fiction anthology, The Way of Compassion: Vegetarianism, Environmentalism, Animal Advocacy, and Social Justice. A long-suffering supporter of the England cricket team, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.


23 Responses to About Right Off the Bat

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  5. Any chance you feature sticksports in your blog? After all the most popular site for a good online game of cricket. (and as it has the best qualities it basically gives you a great idea if you are foreign to either baseball or cricket. when I started cricket , stickcricket was the first way to see how it works …

    • For those who may not understand what this song is about, it concerns Hansie Cronje, the late South African cricket captain, who was found guilty of match-fixing. As the singer makes clear, other cricketers have been found guilty of dodgy dealing around cricket games but weren’t banned from the game like the disgraced Cronje.

  6. Shravan says:

    We would like to have an ad on https://rightoffthebatbook.com/ for a yearly price of $100 which is negotiable. If interested please get back to us soon. Thank you.

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  9. David Crowther says:

    Congratulations on producing an impressive, illuminating and enjoyable book. I’ve learned a lot about baseball in a very short time. My son gave me your book for Christmas. He moved to Washington DC last summer, and on my first visit there we went to a Nationals game together. It was a great spectacle, but neither of us had much idea of what was happening. I was a bit irritated by having my view regularly blocked by vendors and by spectators coming and going. I wondered whether I was the only person who was watching every minute of the game. I found large stretches of it surprisingly uneventful — not unlike cricket, in fact. Without the music, flashing screens, presentations of war veterans, corny singalongs etc, the atmosphere would have been very subdued — not unlike cricket, in fact.
    I have three specific comments on your excellent book:
    • Apart from all the baseball jargon, you introduced me to one startling new word: klieg-lit. Despite being in the words business (translation, editing) I’d never come across ‘klieg’ before. Thanks for that.
    • I think your reference to the Zimbabwean cricket team (para 2, page 150) should read ‘first decade of the twenty-first century’.
    • You refer tantalisingly to the drugs problem in baseball, implying that Major League players would be thrown out of the Olympics by the drugs-testers. First-class cricketers, on the other hand, apparently just ‘ingest power bars, salt tablets and energy drinks’ for tea. So is it true to say that baseball (batting and pitching) depends more on brawn (and steroids) and less on timing and technique than cricket (batting and bowling)?
    I umpire cricket in the Belgian and Luxembourg leagues. You might think that this bolsters your point about how globalised cricket is becoming, but I have yet to see any real evidence of interest in the sport spreading beyond the ex-pat community. Nor is there any reason why it should, in my opinion. Children already have plenty of sports to choose from in every country. A small country like Luxembourg, where I live, does well to specialise in certain sports that it caters for well, like cycling and table tennis. I see no need for a crusade for cricket, or for baseball.
    I umpire because, that way, I see every detail of the game I’m running — far more so than any of the players do, and certainly more than the keenest spectator. It would interest me to know whether baseball umpires get involved in their sport for the same reason.
    Finally, rain is the bane of every cricketer’s, and every cricket-lover’s, life. There is nothing more dispiriting than hanging around a cricket ground while it rains, and rains, and rains. What do baseball players and spectators do when it rains? Hang around just as stoically and miserably as their cricketing cousins? Somehow it’s hard to imagine American spectators stoically watching it rain…

    • Thank you for your detailed comments and corrections. (Perhaps if you could let our friends on Amazon.com know how much you enjoyed the book.) Now, as to your questions: (1) baseball does rely more on brute strength, but there is still the sense of timing that effective hand-eye coordination and split-second decisions depend on. (2) Baseball umpires may not have played the professional game or have been any good at it. In this regard, they’re similar to cricket umpires. (3) Because baseball doesn’t depend on keeping a pitch covered and games often begin at night, there’s no such thing as “bad light stops play” in baseball, and it needs to be bucketing down to take baseball players off the field of play. Rather satisfyingly we think, the baseball players stick around for a long time and will take to the field at two in the morning if the game looks as though it could be completed. Cricket umpires and players could learn a thing or two from the commitment of baseball players and umpires to finishing the game.

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  11. Quite “ameyezing,” this video. It arrives “the dye bof authors celabrite” dual citizenship…of one of them. Nice pat on the bum, indeed. This also has to be the highest-scoring “bisebawl gime of awl tyme.” Well done, Salamander.

  12. chrisps says:

    Gentlemen, I’m hosting the Cricket Blogger Survey – 20 questions to probe the current state and future prospects of blogging about our game. It would be great if you could participate. Thanks, Chris
    The cricket blogger survey | Declaration Game cricket blog

  13. nickww says:

    Here’s a thought for both of you. I’ve often wondered about how to compare success in batting in both sports – since the experience is so different and the averages do not easily translate. So, yes an average over 40 in cricket is world class, also an average over .300 in baseball. But how to compare the two. But in a recent commentary on Willow, it was mentioned when discussing form that a batsman could be expected to ‘fail’ two out of three times, even a world class one. Assuming fail means, say, a score under 20 (thinking first class cricket). Now that – one success in three – equates to a baseball batting average of .333 and the comparison is therefore remarkably close..

    • “Right off the Bat” compares and contrasts (to use the English 101 expression) cricket and baseball. There is lots more to compare, but not in all phases. Batting is extremely difficult, both sports. Finding a major-league equivalent of/to The Don’s towering lifetime average is not possible however: maybe an off-the-charts batting average of .550 compared to Ty Cobb’s record .366. (Thumbing thro “Total Baseball,” one notes Cobb’s average has long been reduced a point.) Go find .550 outside the confines of a Douglass Wallop novel! Is there any cricket equivalent to batting safely in 56 straight games? Probably not. In the early 1920s, Babe Ruth accounted for more jacks than whole teams. Is Cobb less an offensive force for being a home-run hitter manqué? No one even conceived of home runs as a legitimate offensive weapon till Ruth’s tape-measure shots. In the area of baseball superlatives, note the five-year period in which Rogers Hornsby bombed .400.

  14. nickww says:

    Yes, the Don’s average has always seemed incomparable. Literally. But then no one in cricket has got anywhere near it, so fair enough comparison to .550. Perhaps T20, being much closer in format to baseball, will produce some meaningful and fun comparisons. Is a walk off home run comparable to scoring 20 off the final over?

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