Chris Epting is one of my favorite local historians, and not just because he's one of the few local historians who actually likes me. He's an antiquarian who's not completely beholden to the past, the type of guy who knows history is more than just the artifacts left behind or the nostalgia that arises out of it, but is also living, and breathing, and changing. Best of all? Chris is a baseball nut: his Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America is like Frommer's meets Grantland, without the Bill Simmons smarniness or Chuck Klosterman preciousness.
And Epting has outdone himself with his latest: Baseball in Orange County, which he'll be signing tomorrow in Old Towne Orange.
Yes, it's one of those Arcadia Publishing books filled with pictures, and with long captions taking the place of a narrative, but Epting's work is a bona fide masterpiece. He covers all of Orange County baseball history–not just your Anaheim Angels, but the amateur leagues as well. And not only does Epting retell the bigger stories that are already somewhat known–Walter Johnson's epic prep career and legendary game against a squad led by Babe Ruth up in Carbon Canyon, the Philadelphia A's spring training in Anaheim, the Mexican leagues exemplified by Jesse Flores–but he also digs deep to unearth photos, anecdotes, and all sorts of other wonderful stuff. Sports fan will love the trivia; OC fans will love the history; AND the twain shall meet…or however that saying goes.