Brent Loehr’s The Global Baseball: Reflections Beyond Home is not your typical baseball book that examines a specific team or player. Rather, Loehr offers up a different perspective for baseball fans by showing how his own experience as a chosen Envoy Coach abroad for Major League Baseball has helped build the sport in certain countries globally. The pieces in the book are not about Loehr and not really about baseball in a way. They reveal something valuable that can be learned in pretty much every situation…and baseball itself can open doors to an intriguing classroom filled with remarkable people.” (5)
Loehr’s own journey as an Envoy begins in Muenster, Saskatchewan, a small town in Central Canada, and takes him to Germany, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Sweden. In each of the places along the way, he explains how baseball has helped change and impact the lives of those within these countries. More importantly, he provides a solid narrative allowing the reader to immerse themselves into the culture and lifestyle of those he comes across while on travels. This combination of storytelling and first-person account is effective, but it can also create some generalizations as well.
The strongest part of The Global Baseball are the stories Loehr tells in the African countries. It brings the reader to a part of the world where many believe baseball is irrelevant. Yet, he does an effective job describing the hardships in these impoverished and war zone countries, while at the same time showing baseball’s impact for the few who play. In the case of these players, baseball is an escape, just as it was for those immigrants who played in the late nineteenth and twentieth century in America.
At times, Loehr’s experiences and personal journey reads more like a cultural anthropological narrative rather than a book on baseball, which might deter the average baseball reader, but one has to look beyond the typical baseball book to understand that Loehr’s journey just reiterates that baseball is more than just facts and stats. Its impact can be felt in many different ways, from the sociological and cultural to fully understand the game’s impact globally.
In the end, Loehr’s ideas and personal journey can be summed up with an interview he conducted with W.P Kinsella, whose famous book Shoeless Joe became the Academy Award Nominee film Field of Dreams. Kinsella states, “the open-endedness of baseball that makes it so interesting. There is not limit to the imagination, everything else is enclosed by time limits and playing boundaries. The foul lines on a baseball field diverge forever and possibilities are simply endless.” (176).