Intentional Balk

Baseball's Thin Line Between Innovation and Cheating

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Pub Date 12 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 13 Sep 2022

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Description

For 150 years, baseball employees, in uniform and out, have pushed and bent and broken the game’s rules to help their teams win. To reach the pinnacle of their profession, players must be highly competitive, and it has long been accepted that players can and should do whatever they can to win, particularly as it relates to the game on the field, even if such play is technically a rule violation. Why are some forms of cheating tolerated and even openly joked about while others lead to scandal? Where is the line between deception and cheating, and how has that changed over the decades?

In Intentional Balk: Baseball's Thin Line Between Innovation and Cheating, nationally-recognized baseball historians and best-selling authors, Daniel R. Levitt and Mark Armour, have written the definitive history of cheating in baseball, and deliver an engrossing chronicle of America's pastime and the players, coaches, groundskeepers and management who have sought any advantage to win at all costs. By looking at the close relationship between innovation and cheating, the authors draw the fine line between ingenuity designed to gain an edge and nefarious attempts to cheat, as well as the pursuit of a competitive edge that in other endeavors might be heralded as innovation. At the very beginning of baseball, teams worked to take advantage of the still evolving rules. Ever since, some of the most innovative teams have found themselves in trouble for everything from roster violations to hacking into opposing team’s databases to sign stealing.

Meticulously researched, Intentional Balk is a comprehensive look at every form of baseball cheating, its origins, its practitioners, and how cheating has been treated within the game. Some of the stories are humorous, others are serious. Many rule-breakers are in the Hall of Fame, while others are pariahs in the sport. There seems to be much less tolerance for cheating today than ever before—are we becoming more honest, or just more judgmental? 


Daniel R. Levitt and Mark Armour are award winning researchers and board members of the Society for American Baseball Researchers. Their previous books include In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball and Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way, which won the Sporting News-SABR Research Award. They have also worked together on several published articles and several groundbreaking studies of ethnicity in baseball. Their most recent collaboration was an editorial in the Seattle Times titled Baseball Cheating: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again.

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 an occasional MLB Network TV guest commentator, a regular speaker at SABR’s annual convention, and has presented at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture. Dan is the recipient of the highest award of the Society for American Baseball Research, the prestigious Bob Davids Award. In 2017, he won SABR’s Chadwick Award, a lifetime achievement award honoring baseball’s great researchers for their invaluable contributions to making baseball the game that links America’s present with its past.

Levitt is the author of The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, winner of the 2013 Larry Ritter Award. The Dallas Morning News’ Allen Barra called it “one of the most important historical baseball works so far this century.” He also wrote Ed Barrow: The Bulldog who Built the Yankees' First Dynasty, a finalist for the Seymour Medal, honoring the best book of baseball history or biography.


Mark Amour has forged a reputation as a top-flight baseball researcher and writer, especially in areas of mid-20th century history, labor relations, biography, 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 his career as a researcher).

Mark’s 2010 book, Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, was one of three finalists for the prestigious Seymour Medal. Mark has also been the chief editor of books on the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest. He has written more than 100 articles on baseball in a variety of publications. 

For 150 years, baseball employees, in uniform and out, have pushed and bent and broken the game’s rules to help their teams win. To reach the pinnacle of their profession, players must be highly...


A Note From the Publisher

Authors are available for interviews, blog tours, autographed tours, autographed book giveaways, contests, and book club discussions

Authors are available for interviews, blog tours, autographed tours, autographed book giveaways, contests, and book club discussions


Advance Praise

"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. 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."– NYT baseball writer Tyler Kepner


“Cheating has been the path of progress, in baseball or life itself. The authors of Intentional Balk may raise an eyebrow at this infraction or that one, but they are not moralists. For them, play is serious fun and so is their book.”–Official MLB Historian John Thorn

"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...


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ISBN 9798985263268
PRICE $22.00 (USD)

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