The first book
Cicitto would save in a fire is his signed early edition of Veeck As in Wreck,
by the late White Sox owner Bill Veeck and Ed Linn. But what are the worst
baseball books of all time--the Dreck As in Bleeck? Though it's on some
people's list of best books, Joe Pepitone's off-off-off-color
autobiography--Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud--is not a paperback Cicitto wants
to pick up again soon, at least not without the aid of salad tongs.
His library is
largely bereft of fiction, so Cicitto doesn't yet know the joy of Philip Roth's
The Great American Novel or the first 100 pages of Don DeLillo's Underworld.
But those oversights are more than made up for by multiple copies of Brendan C.
Boyd and Fred C. Harris's The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading
and Bubble Gum Book, 144 pages of bliss published in 1973, when I turned seven.
My local library had a leather chair made to look like a giant baseball mitt,
and I would drop into it, like a soft fly ball, to read Five Seasons by Roger
basement, like most of his books, is unfinished. At his present reading rate of
25 baseball books a year, he knows he'll never finish a fraction of his own
library. But he vows to beat on, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
"Books are full of ideas," he says. "They're full of
knowledge." Better still, an ancient Bob Gibson biography can instantly
transport him to Middletown, Conn., where he is 12 years old, smelling the tar
melt on Smith Street. "A book can take me back to 1968," Cicitto
marvels. And his smile speaks volumes.
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