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Times Insider: Building a Book on Baseball, With 10 Pitches and 300 Interviews

In all, I interviewed 22 Hall of Fame pitchers, plus many standouts who made a huge impact in the game but do not have a plaque in Cooperstown: guys like Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Elroy Face, Wilbur Wood, J. R. Richard, Kent Tekulve, Ron Guidry, Dave Duncan, Mario Soto, Brad Lidge and many more.

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In “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches,” Tyler Kepner, The Times’s national baseball writer, devotes a chapter apiece to the fastball, the curveball, the sinker, the slider, the cutter, the changeup, the splitter, the screwball, the knuckleball and the spitball.

I also tracked down pitchers whose feats I witnessed in my formative days as a fan near Philadelphia: the Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, my first baseball hero; Steve Rogers, the longtime Expo who beat Carlton in the first game I ever saw, in 1981; and Scott McGregor, who clinched the 1983 World Series for the Orioles as I watched, forlornly, from the front row at old Veterans Stadium.

Carlton was famous for never talking to the news media, but he was delightful in our 40-minute chat. He greeted my call with a playful brushback pitch: “So you’re writing a book — don’t you know people don’t read anymore?” But…

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