By David Steinberg

Major league baseball’s regular season is coming down to the wire. Less than a week before it concludes, some wild card spots are up for graps. Up next are the playoffs, leading to the World Series.

Here’s a book of light, fun, informative reading to keep you company between innings.

It’s called “How to Speak Baseball, An Illustrated Guide to Ballpark Banter” by James Charlton and Sally Cook. It’s short on text and long on illustrations. Which works just fine.

The book is really a compendium of words and phrases, some in use for decades, some out of use.

Here are a few samples.

“Bush league.” It refers to a poorly made play but also the minor leagues are referred to as the “bushes.” The phrase has come into general English usage to mean offensive behavior.

“Crank.” it’s a 19th century term for a fan of a baseball team.

“Junkball pitcher” or “Cutie” is one who uses  off-speed pitches rather than a fastball.

“Ruthian” refers to a very long home run, named for George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

Ross MacDonald’s illustrations are to treasure. They’re have a cozy, sometimes silly, mid-20th century flair.

The publisher is Chronicle Books. Retail price is $14.95.

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