Mark Armour with Art Thiel: 'Intentional Balk: Baseball's Thin Line Between Innovation and Cheating'

An honored baseball expert tackles the history of cheating in America’s pastime


Third Place Books welcomes award-winning sports writer Mark Amour for a presentation of Intentional Balk: Baseball's Thin Line Between Innovation and Cheating, co-authored by Daniel Levitt! Armour will be in conversation with Seattle sports columnist Art Thiel. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.

Copies of Intentional Balk will be available for purchase at the store. This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!

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About Intentional Balk. . .

From the moment of its inception, the quintessentially American sport of baseball has included cheating. Sometimes that rule-skirting is embraced as ingenious hijinks; other times, reviled as an unforgivable trespass. But what exactly is the difference? Why is skipping bases less egregious than signing underage players? Is sign-stealing evidence of ingenuity, or does it fundamentally change the nature of the game?

In Intentional Balk, nationally-recognized baseball historians Dan Levitt and Mark Armour examine cheating in baseball as the pursuit of a competitive edge that in other endeavors might be heralded as innovation. Wherever you come down on the question, Intentional Balk offers an engrossing chronicle of America's pastime and the players, coaches, groundskeepers and management who for more than 150 years have sought any advantage to win at all costs.

Praise for Intentional Balk. . .

“From fake foul tips to dugout disguises, sign stealing to sticky stuff, Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt don't miss a trick—and that's saying something when the subject is baseball, where rule-bending has always been part of the game. Armour and Levitt teamed up for the definitive history of the baseball front office with In Pursuit of Pennants, and now they've written the definitive history of cheating in our national pastime. With meticulous research and a gripping narrative, Armour and Levitt give us a deeper understanding of the nuances between clever gamesmanship and an unfair edge—and, more broadly, between right and wrong.”
—Tyler Kepner, baseball writer for the New York Times

Mark Armour’s specialty is writing about mid-20th century baseball history, labor relations, biographies and baseball cards. He has won numerous awards for his work, including SABR’stwo most prestigious—the Bob Davids Award for contributions to the organization, and the
Henry Chadwick Award for research. Armour’s 2010 book, Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, was a finalist for the prestigious Seymour Medal. Armour has also edited books on the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest. In 2002, Armour created SABR’s Baseball Biography Project, a 20-year effort to publish substantial biographies of people across the entire history of baseball. The project has now published more than 5,000 biographies, with hundreds more in progress. Armour also was an advisor for “Shoebox Treasures,” a permanent exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame on baseball cards. Armour’s many leadership roles within SABR include his chairmanship of the Negro Leagues Task Force, which in early 2021 announced that SABR would thereafter recognize eight Negro Leagues as Major Leagues.

Longtime Seattle sports columnist Art Thiel covered nine Olympic Games and numerous local and national subjects for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. He co-founded Sports press Northwest, a digital sports commentary site, in 2010 until closing in February. He is the author/co-author of three books, including Out of Left Field, about the Seattle Mariners, which was a regional best-seller in 2002. He still contributes commentaries to Seattle NPR affiliate KNKX-FM, where he was a regular for 15 years. In 2019, he was honored by the Seattle Sports Commission with its annual Keith Jackson Award for career contributions to coverage of sports in Washington.

Want a signed edition of the featured book, but can't make it to the event? Order through our website or over the phone, and write your request for a signature or personalization in the comments field at checkout. Please call the hosting store if you're placing your order within 24 hours of the event.

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