June 03, 1985 12:00 PM

by Daniel Okrent

If Arthur (Airport) Hailey ever wrote a book about the national pastime it would be like Nine Innings, except that it would probably be called Baseball. Hailey takes the inner workings of an institution (Airport, Hotel) and weaves a plot around them. Okrent (co-editor of The Ultimate Baseball Book) takes one baseball game, between the Orioles and Brewers on June 10, 1982 and uses that framework to convey the essence of the sport. Perhaps inevitably, this book has more tangents than a trigonometry course. When Brewer Ted Simmons makes a pinch-hitting appearance in the seventh inning, Okrent spends 16 pages telling us about the Byzantine machinations that brought Simmons to Milwaukee in a trade. But even the most sophisticated fan will learn from the book. The discussions of signals and scouting are particularly entertaining. (Ticknor & Fields, $16.95)

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