“Put eighteen men on a diamond, and give them some gloves and a bat and a ball, and you have a silly game, but we, as fans, have much more. We have a morality tale, an epic, mythic struggle. We have something to take our minds off our complicated, nuanced, and compromised lives. We have a spectacle. We have archetypes of good and… if not evil, certainly, bad.” -Alyssa Milano
It is difficult to say whether Alyssa Milano’s book Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic should be classified as an autobiography, love story, or how-to guide for burgeoning baseball fans. At first, she delves into the deep love her father had for the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as the crushing heartache he suffered when they packed up for the sunny shores of L.A. From there, it’s nearly impossible to list all the areas she explores. Statistics. Sports history. Stadium etiquette. Dating baseball fans. Dating non-baseball fans. Women’s fashion at the ballpark.
In a way, the style of the book reflects the woman who wrote it. Alyssa Milano is a Wonder Woman of sorts. She’s enjoyed the spotlight of fame as a well-known actress since her first days on Who’s the Boss? She helps underprivileged children through UNICEF and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. A few years ago, she developed a clothing line called Touch, which specializes in stylish, non-pink MLB gear for women. And when she writes about baseball, it doesn’t come across as the emotional, I’m-only-watching-this-game-cause-the-guys-are-hot rantings of a female fanatic, but just as the poetic opinions of one avid baseball fan.
What captivated me most was the way Alyssa treated baseball: as a story. At its finest, she argues, baseball is a tale of heroes vs. villains. It mirrors our lives, it teaches us how to play fairly and how to treat those who bend the rules for their own benefit. Baseball is a love story, from father to daughter, fan to team, and if you’re so fortunate, team to fan. Opening Day embodies the newness of spring and the offseason mimics the loneliness of winter. Baseball is childhood and adulthood, a business and a sport, a contradiction in the best sense of the word. Alyssa takes every element of baseball, from the basics to the technicalities, and reminds us why we love it so much.
(Note: I really need to find books written by female Giants fans. The last three baseball books I’ve read by women authors have pulled for either the Dodgers or the Yankees. If one can’t be found, I’m seriously considering writing it myself!)