Book briefing: varied smorgasbord from independent publishers; The Baseball Catalog, by Dan Schlossberg. Middle Village, N.Y.: Jonathan David Publishers (68-22 Eliot Avenue, 11379). $7.95 (paperback).
Schlossberg offers a grab bag of little-known facts and details about the national pastime. Did you know that walks were once counted as hits, that Babe Ruth wore No. 3 because he batted third, or that a player named Germany Schaefer used to steal bases in reverse, going from second to first?
Yet this is more than a collection of trivia. There are also short takes that broaden the reader's understanding and appreciation of the game. A chapter devoted entirely to the language of baseball explains why a square infield came to be called a diamond as well as the origins of "seventh-inning stretch," "southpaw," and other terms. The author also sheds some light on why hitting a baseball is so difficult and how changes in the ball's manufacture have altered the game. The catalog is rich in anecdotes and photos and refreshingl y thin on pure statistics.