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Every baseball player from little league to the big leagues knows it is illegal to steal signs, yet every major league team assigns someone to do just that.

Baseball thrives on trickery and deception. But as our oldest major team sport, its larcenous legacy goes much deeper than the field of play.

In LARCENY AND OLD LEATHER: THE MISCHIEVOUS LEGACY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, Eldon Ham—sports lawyer, professor, and author—traces the game’s lesser-known, roguish past. His wry chapters, filled with anecdotes and statistics, expose both the hidden and the obvious cheating occurring throughout baseball’s history, from corked bats and spitballs to betting and media hyperbole.

Here is a book for both seasoned baseball fans and neophytes who’d like to get a look at the game that evolved into an industry. Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa, Pete Rose, and many other lesser known players make their appearance in this fascinating history, as Ham seeks not only to chronicle the legacy of deception inherent within the game, but also to explore why it is, and how it is, that this deception is exactly what makes baseball the most endearing of American games.

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