The Complete Book of Frisbee
Malafronte, Victor A. and F. Davis Johnson (ed). The Complete Book of Frisbee: the History of the Sport and First Official Price Guide, Alameda, CA: American Trends Publishing Company, 1998. 287 pp. 0966385527. paper. $19.95
DESCRIPTION: What’s it all about?
The Complete Book of Frisbee: the History of the Sport and the First Official Price Guide by Malafronte chronicles the evolution of various disc sports from early games using a disc-like object to their present day forms. As Malafronte states, “the objective of this historical account is not to find out who first threw the very first disc shaped whatever, but rather is a quest for a clear chronology of organized flying disc play” (p. 21). With this objective, the book begins by exploring some early flying disc objects and their associated games, progressing to the development of modern disc games–like Ultimate and Freestyle. There is a chapter devoted to the creation of the modern day plastic disc, and then about 100 pages covering collecting, storing and appraising the beloved plastic (and metal) objects.
The author, Victor Malafronte, is a Flying Disc historian, World Frisbee Champion (Freestyle) and original member of the Berkeley Flying Group (BFG). His contributions to “Frisbee” history and lore are referenced and quoted on websites and books such as the Freestyle Players Association (FPA), the Ultimate Handbook and WrightLife. Malafronte has also appeared in highlight videos and TV commercials promoting Disc Golf and the sport of Freestyle. Check these out, they are 1980s classics (the clothes made me giggle a bit, I have to admit).
DISCUSSION: How is this relevant to the disc sport community?
This book was given to me as a gift during my junior year (2004) of College. My friend and teammate, Grace, knew how much I loved the sport of Ultimate, so she presented this to me before she graduated. I skimmed it from time to time, over the years, but never really read it from cover to cover until recently. And, I have to say it is an enjoyable and informative read, well, for a person who really likes “counter-culture” disc sports.
The Complete Book of Frisbee is a precursor to the widely talked about and hard to find (due to its limited printing) Ultimate: the First Four Decades and a continuation of the attempts made by an earlier book, Frisbee: a Practitioner’s Manual and definitive Treatise (1975); however, unlike Ultimate, Malafronte’s text does not only talk about the sport of Ultimate, but the evolution of all disc sports–Disc Golf, Guts, Freestyle and Ultimate. In the introductory pages, Malafronte states, “Until now, no serious attempt has been made to bring to light additional information that could document and enhance the true nature of this pastime” (p. 20). Though, Frisbee (1975) did offer some good information about all things Frisbee disc related, this is still a serious, legitimate attempt. I would actually say a success.
As I mentioned earlier, this text has been quoted numerously and should hold a prominent place in the chronicles of disc history.
CRITICAL EVALUATION: Twelve Years later, is it still worth it?
From pie tins and cookie can covers to Pluto Platers and UltraStars, this book gives the reader a fair amount of information up till the late 90s. Yes, its been 12 years since its publication, but this book still offers a useful and interesting perspective on disc culture and heritage. To discount it simply because of its publication date would be silly.
I found the “Price Guide” section’s full color pictures to be really cool. At first I thought it was a little silly, but then I looked in my closet and saw the twenty or so discs I have amassed over my years of playing ultimate and realized… I’m a collector. I do not know if I will be running around looking for collectible discs in antique shops and local yard sales, but then again maybe if I see a Li’l Abner’s Flyin Saucer or an original American Trends Pluto Platter I might add it to my collection.
This book is broad in that it covers disc sports, so I do not want to suggest titles that cover only Ultimate, but, rather, broad disc-related topics and history. One that specifically talks about the plastic “Frisbee” disc is called Plastic: Let’s Look at the Frisbee by Angela Royston. Now, yes, this title is for very young readers, but it discusses the object rather than the tactics of the sport of Ultimate, so I thought it could be a possible paring. Keep in mind this is for really young readers (4 – 8), but if you are a parent and want to introduce your child to disc sports via reading, this could be your book. If you are an adult reader, which I imagine most of you how are reading this blog are, I’d suggest two other texts: Frisbee: a Practitioner’s Manual and Definitive Treatise by Dr. Stancil Johnson and Ultimate: the First Four Decades by Leonardo and Zagoria.
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