Category: American League

A Little Bit of Everything


As you all know I don’t get as much time to devote to writing on here as I would like.  The responsibilities of everyday life have obviously gotten in the way and brought many thoughts of writing a post to a screeching halt.  I will say that just because the blog posts stop, it does not mean that I am not off reading somewhere in the shadows.  I get many books finished I just can never find the time to post the results on here.  Because of that, it has led me to do these things I don’t like to do, but honestly something is better than nothing.  I of course am talking about a multi book review.  I feel when I do these I don’t give each book the time it deserves, but honestly for the authors it is better than waiting two or three years for me to get it done. One thing can be said for these books though, they have been read and overall I would recommend them to the readers.  I try to keep it positive on here and if I find a book I don’t think anyone could find something positive in I steer away from it.  So every time you see one of these reviews from the beginning remember that they are all worthwhile books to check out.  So without further delay……….

untitled

Brian Wright takes a cold hard look at the Mets through the ages with this one.  You have seen books on teams that show the highs of team history, the 50 greatest players and countless other positive bits on your favorite team.  Now while this book does those positive types of things it also takes a realistic look at team history and shows it warts and all.  Villains, losses, busts and worst trades ever are just a few of the things the author touches on.  It really gives a rounded look at the team history and gives an accurate portrayal of what the complete Mets team history really is.  Well worth checking out.

51uxMOA6lrL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

To me before the 2016 World Series I did not think of David Ross as a household name.  Well I guess after that series, he is now.  This one was published just in time to cash in on the popularity of that series and the Cubs finally breaking through.  It’s a nice look at his life and the inside workings of a baseball life, but there is a downside.  You really have to be a hardcore David Ross fan to get your moneys worth.  It’s that way with most biographies but I think this one may need it just a little more than some of the others.

2476_reg

I always enjoy new to me books about  Negro Leaguers.  There is so much history from that League that is lost to the passing of time that it is enjoyable to learn some new information.  Westcott as always, does not disappoint in this one.  I enjoy his writing style and he has done a great job of showcasing and almost forgotten piece of history that take you to so many places you never expected to go.  These stories need to be saved for generations to come.

51EfAcwzMdL__SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

The late 60’s were a very pivotal time in both baseball and America.  We look back on that era with great reverence and spend a lot of time dissecting events of the day and what the outcomes were.  1967 is no stranger to being under that magnifying glass and this book is no exception.  It looks at what possibly may be the last true era of pure baseball.  Many books have been written about this year and the Red Sox and Cardinals in particular, but every one has put its own spin on the events.  If you have an interest in this period, then you should check this out because perspective is in the eye of the beholder or in this case the author.

51MOA6JLfQL__SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

Not the first of its kind and I am sure not the last this one takes on the mental aspects of the game.  How a player has to prepare and how the mental aspects effect the game and its outcome.  I am not sure how many different spins we can get on these things as this is the second one I have read in as many months but they for now are still entertaining.  It may be one of those things that each era has a different approach to the game but as of yet, I haven’t got the answer to that.  It also leads me back to my previous of question of who needs a book.

51xCb42v1RL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

With Fathers Day right around the corner this is a timely book.  It takes a look at the relationship of a son and father and growing up around the love of your family and a mutual love of a baseball team.  It shows one of the many things that were better way back when and how this is one of the more important things that is missing n today’s world.  I could relate to this one we me and my own Dad and a love of the Phillies growing up.  worth checking out because it may bring back some great memories for the reader, like it did me.

512-DL1tJkL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

This is another strike while the Cubs iron is hot book.  While I am not totally sold on the Cubs becoming a Dynasty at this point, it is an interesting look at what their plan is and I assume what it still is going forward.  Other teams to some degree are following the same plan, so twenty years from now it will be interesting to see how the plans all worked out for the teams.  Love him or hate him, Theo Epstein has had a hot hand for many years, so Cubs fans will really enjoy this one.

52912386

Hoping in the way back machine we take a look at a time in Boston where baseball was king.  To major League teams in opposing leagues fighting for the hearts of its many dedicated fans.  The fight was the same for many cities across the country for those fans.  Places like Philadelphia, St Louis and New York all had to fight and the outcome was the same as Boston, the loss of a team.  But this takes a good look at the competition was like and how hard it was to compete with a cross town rival.

dinner-with-dimaggio-9781501156847_lg

The Yankee Clipper hasn’t played a game in over 65 years and been gone from this Earth for almost 20 years, yet we still find him fascinating.  This book is another look at an outsider who to some degree broke through to the inner circle of DiMaggio’s life.  It is another look at his life and his persona from one of the few who somewhat knew him, because honestly did anyone really know him.  Take it for what its worth, as with all DiMaggio books it is hard to verify all the stories but it may be worth your time.

51vMbuQ-0SL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Nearly half a century later and countless books about them you would think there would be no more stories to tell.  Luckily for readers there is more and this book offers just that.  Some of the stories are recycled but Jason Turbow puts his own spin on telling them, so it keeps it interesting.  They may still be relevant all these years later because we may never see another team like them.  From the roster, to the uniforms, the owner, the antics and of course the back to back to back Championships, its a feat that is near impossible to replicate in todays game.  Quite honestly in anther half century we may still be talking about them, so check this one out.

Hopefully this list jumpstarts some folks to new reading.  Its a varied list with some great new options so there should be at least something for everyone.  All these books are available on Amazon, or if you don’t like dealing with the evil empire you can get them direct from the publishers as well.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Who Deserves a Book?


It is a simple yet valid question, that I see pop up from time to time.  Which players really deserve a book?  What criteria have we set forth as a baseball community to answer this question?  To date, I don’t think we have answered that question, and in my honest opinion it is one that probably should will be answered.  Every player, coach, executive, umpire or whomever has a unique story to tell.  It is up to you as the discernible reader to decide which stories have merit and which ones were better lost to the passage of time.  With the help of a few unbiased reviews you can usually get a feel of what to pick up and which ones to leave alone, but there are still a ton of baseball books out there to choose from.  For my money, I like the somewhat obscure players telling me about their experiences and sharing stories that may have never been told before.  Today’s book is one of those types of books that takes a look at a life and career dedicated to baseball from someone who wasn’t a household name.

91QU7-igyLL

If you asked 100 baseball fans who Skip Lockwood was my guess is a majority of those asked would not be able to answer right away.  That is okay though because baseball history is filled with those types of guys.  It is no knock on them as individuals, it is just sometimes how baseball history goes.   Lockwood will best be remembered as a serviceable journeyman closer that could eat innings and mop up when needed.  He played on some horrible teams and unfortunately what positive things came from his own career got overshadowed by the bad teams he played on.

Skip walks the reader through his life in and out of baseball.  You go through his childhood and see how he knew early own that baseball was his calling.  You see all the preparation he did to achieve this dream and the countless hours spent perfecting the trade.  Once the dream became reality and he was signed by a professional team, you see the struggles of honing his skills at the next level which led to an eventual position change and the making of a Pitcher.  It is an honest look at the game at a minor league level during that era and shows the struggles a lot of guys faced.

Next up you see the game through Lockwood’s eyes at the Major League Level.  Stops in Milwaukee, California, New York, Oakland and Boston paint a picture of the consummate professional always willing to work on the trade.  While results may not always have been what was wanted or expected, it wasn’t from lack of trying.

One aspect of this book that I found very interesting was Lockwood’s recollection of every thought and action during certain times on the field.  He gives such detail of exactly what was going through his head at that very moment.  How the ball felt, how the sweat felt, what exactly his mind was thinking and more.  Now I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I always find it fascinating when players have such vivid recollections as this.  It really gives an interesting look at what it is like to be out there on the mound in given situations.

If you are looking for a book that gives the reader some new stories and an honest and detailed look at what goes through your mind when you are a Major League player when they are out on the field, then you should check this book out.  It’s a nice easy read that sheds a different light on a player than what many of us are used to.  It engages the reader on a different level and provides a great insight to the game in many different ways.  So I ask again……….Who deserves a book?  Many more people than you would originally think.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing

Insight Pitch

Happy Reading Gregg

 

Lyman Bostock-The Inspiring Life and Tragic Death of a Ballplayer


Life can be cruel and that’s a fact.   It can offer us so much opportunity and promise and in one blink of an eye it can all be gone.  We see it time and time again in baseball, but a lot of the time it is due to injury.  When it is due to the loss of life, baseball as a game becomes unimportant and we learn how much we actually care about the people who play the game on a whole different level.  Lyman Bostock is one case where we were left to ask what if.  A career cut short due to his untimely murder, which was full of promise and unlimited potential.  For me, Bostock’s story was always one that left me wondering about the details surrounding his untimely demise, but now we have a book to help us all fill in the blanks.

51ahl0tn1l-_sx331_bo1204203200_

By:K. Adam Powell-2017

When you stop and take a look at Lyman Bostock’s career numbers, one has to admit this guy was the real deal.  He was always in contention for batting titles, was always improving his game and based on the small career sampling size, if he had kept up that pace would easily have been a Hall of Famer.  But we all know how his career was cut short and left us with that void in Lyman’s story.  Today’s book looks at his life and career and shows the reader the story of the man and promise wasted.

Powell’s book takes a look at Bostock’s meager upbringing in California and how he worked his way up through the ranks of High School and College baseball, through the minor leagues and eventually to the Major Leagues.  It shows a story of perseverance and overcoming life’s obstacles.  It also shares the story of how Lyman Bostock’s father who in his own right was a Negro League star, was not much of an influence in his childhood or his rise to stardom.

The book looks at his first stop in the majors with Minnesota with the Twins and the bond he created with teammates and the lessons he learned from teammate Rod Carew on how to become a better hitter.  It also shows the negative side of the relationship with Twins management that came to head with Lyman leaving town.  It is a period of great growth for Bostock as a player and it showed how he was always looking for a way to improve his game by listening to teammates and heading their advice.  You learn about Bostocks love of his family during this period and how whenever he had the chance he would seize the opportunity to spend time with them.  It was this love of family that played into his untimely demise.

After signing with the Angels and not living up to the expectations, you learn what kind of fabric Lyman was really made of.  After essentially flopping his first month with the team he gave his salary to charity.  It was acts like this and his anonymous other charitable gestures that show what a cool guy he really was.

A very important aspect of this book, shows the reader all of the details leading up to Lymans final moments.  The readers get all the details of the who, what, when, why and where of that fateful night.  It filled in a lot of the blanks in the story for me and put to rest any doubts of what a stand up guy Lyman Bostock really was from beginning until the end.

Powell did a great job of sharingBostock’s story which I feel has been a very overlooked or forgotten subject.  His time in both life and baseball were very short, but his impact was much greater beyond his years.  Check this book out, I don’t think anyone who puts the effort into reading this will regret it.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield

Lyman Bostock

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

Baseball’s Fallen Angel


I easily admit that my favorite genre of baseball books are the biographies.  They help show the real person behind the player’s public image and sometimes allows fans to get an inside scoop on some events.  On the other hand some of the biographies are ghost-written, self-serving and are just a ploy to both increase popularity and pocket a few extra bucks.  Thankfully for readers, those books are usually evident before you ever make the mistake of buying them.  Readers should also be grateful to find books like today’s autobiography, because it shows the human side of a player, flaws and all, and does not sugar coat anything.

51jaovoi6ql-_sy344_bo1204203200_

By:Eli Grba & Doug Williams-2016

Now we all know Eli Grba did not have a Hall of Fame baseball career by any measure but he this book shows that he is a Hall of Fame caliber person.  He had a well known problem with alcohol during his playing days and subsequent years and that honestly is just the tip of the iceberg in this compelling life story.

Eli Grba walks the readers through his entire life story in this book.  From his upbringing and his time labeled as a troubled youth and the multiple problems associated with that tag to the his showing promise as a stud pitcher.  You see the highs and lows of his life through all of its stages and it shows his true human side.  It also shows the love he had for his family, especially his mother, and how he has realized later in life the trouble and pain he has caused for those who loved him.

Grba also walks the readers through his rise through the baseball ranks and his eventual arrival to the majors.  He shows us the troubles he had along the way and how alcohol was the usually the underlying theme to these issues. He also shows us how in the end, alcohol derailed his promising career and how except for a few highlights it was talent wasted.

This book is a great look at a player who has come to terms with his demons and admirably overcome them and made his life better for both himself and those around him.  He talks extensively about his mother and the closeness they had and now realizes the pain he caused her over the years.  Throughout the book Eli is very honest with the readers and pulls no punches about his faults and failures along the way.  It is refreshing in this day and age to say anyone take responsibility for their actions, but it is even more eye opening to see a former professional athlete do it .

This is a great book for baseball fans to read.  It sheds a bright light on both Eli Grba’s life and career and shows how he was able to beat those demons.  Both Eli and co-author Doug Williams have made this a great story to read and a book that many people will not be able to put down.  It is one of those books that people dealing with the same types of problems will be able to relate to and in the end be able to take something from it that will help them with their own struggles.

Take a look around on social media sites because you can get autographed copies direct from Eli Grba as well as getting it from the standard on-line retailers.

Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed, because the first angel has written a first rate book.

Happy Reading

Gregg

McFarland-Never Ones to Shy Away from Obscurity


In baseball book circles every publisher has their own certain niche.  Whether it is historical volumes, biographies, complete seasons or any of the other countless things you could document within the game.  McFarland has always been a staunch supporter of the sport and released various books about our beloved game.  The one thing that has always struck me interesting about McFarland is how they don’t shy away from the obscure subjects like other publishers would.  It adds new facets to the readers library and makes sure we do not forget what the game has evolved from and the great and not so great names that helped bring it there.  They have a few new ones out that I figured I would share, because they are subjects that we as readers are sometimes hard pressed to find books on.

cook_978-1-4766-6391-3

By: William A. Cook-2016

Johnny Temple was a household name in Cincinnati during his playing days.  Get outside of Ohio and the spotlight tends to fade on Temple’s fairly solid playing career.  Cook takes the reader on a journey through Temple’s struggles that he had to overcome to be welcomed into professional baseball.  He introduces the reader to his fierce competitive streak that endeared him to local fans, but quite honestly to the rest of the world made him look like a miserable SOB.  The author shows the reader his entire playing career with stops in various cities throughout the league.  He was a solid player who was probably a bit underrated in the end, but that was probably due to the fact that he may have been his own worst enemy both on and off the field.

Finally this book takes a look at Johnny Temple’s life after baseball and the struggles that followed.  Troubled by serious financial and legal problems, Temple lived a life of obscurity and carried a heavy burden that followed him until his dying days.  The author does not delve very far into Temple’s legal problems but enough to peak the readers interest and realize these problems were probably of his own making.  Check out this book if you want a real good feel of what the Reds had at Second Base during the 50’s.

9780786472536_p0_v1_s118x184

I have read work from these authors before and expected nothing less than what you get with this book.  George Weiss was part of the Yankees front office during the Golden Years.  He is also not remembered very fondly by former players and members of the team.  There are many adjectives that have been used to describe him by former players and most were not very flattering.  This book takes a look at Weiss’ business acumen and how it was applied to building the powerhouse that the New York Yankees became.

It is an interesting look at the business angle of a team that everyone is familiar with and it’s one that not many people take the time to analyze.  This is an often overlooked subject with the Yankees of this era and now that we see what a major business powerhouse the game of baseball has become, it shows what differences the business dealings had during that era.  This book offers a unique perspective of the Yankees to the readers and should not be missed if you want to complete your education of the New York powerhouse.

51org0-yocl

By:Jorge Iber-2016

Our final book of the day forces me to ask the question, where do you draw the line of who to write about and publish?  Is it the author’s personal preference or is it just one of those things keep going until you find someone willing to publish it.  Mike Torrez had a serviceable career and was witness to a few interesting events during his time on the mound, but will never be confused with the second coming of Cy Young.  All of the above being said this book did make me pose the question as to why, but there have been lots of other books published for less deserving candidates.

This book attempts to tackle two issues in one step.  Torrez’s life and career are addressed like most biographies attempt to do, but it also attempts to analyze his Hispanic heritage and the social impacts that may have had on his career.  Now both of these things would make great books in their own right, but when you try and squeeze them both into one book, you don’t give enough time to either subject.  Overall it is a pretty good book, but if you split the subject into two volumes you could probably have two better books.  If you are a Mike Torrez fan and looking for a baseball book, you should still check this one out.  70% of the book is still baseball and career related and would hold the readers interest.

Take the time to check out the McFarland website, because they have countless other books on baseball available and quite honestly will have something for everyone.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

Wonder Boy – The Story of Carl Scheib


In my opinion, the arena of Baseball books is in no way an exact science.  There is no rhyme or reason as to what person an author chooses to write about, or which players decide I want to write my own book.  It leaves readers with endless choices and multiple avenues to pursue their favorite subjects.  With all of these choices,  readers may get led down a road that they will regret in the end.  As I have always said, nobody wants to waste time on a bad book.  I wonder which side of the fence today’s book falls into?

wb_fc(2)

By:Lawrence Knorr-2016

Carl Scheib is not a household name like Pete Rose or Babe Ruth, but he did have a professional career playing for both the Philadelphia Athletics and St Louis Cardinals.  Not being Cy Young reincarnated on the mound led me to believe that this book was going to focus more on his personality and less on his lack of pitching prowess. Well……. I was wrong.

Wonder Boy is very heavy in game by game details of Carl Scheib’s professional career.  When I say heavy I mean HEAVY!  After the first few chapters that give you the standard background on the player, family friends, schooling home life etc., it jumps right into his career.  Each chapter tends to cover a full season showing the highlights and lowlights of that year for Scheib.  It also tries to mix in a bit of personal information about Carl in each year but seemed forced and unnatural.

Books about a player from Connie Mack’s A’s, let alone near the end of his regime do not seem like popular subjects.  Probably because the team at that point was operated on such a shoe string budget that the quality of players was not that good.  Which then led to no one really taking an interest in most of the players on a personal level.  It is a double edged sword for the Athletics players in Philadelphia during this era.

If you really, really want to find out information on Carl Scheib this is your only resource right now.  It does offer some personal insight into the man and the player and gives the reader some stories about a man who will eventually be forgotten to time because he played for one of those horrible Connie Mack teams.  Unfortunately for my taste, this book relies to much on game day play by play to fill its pages.

As always, I leave it to you the reader to check it out and see if you agree with me or not, you can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press

Wonder Boy

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

The 1986 World Series-There Was More Than Game Six


I am a big fan of anniversaries and nostalgia in baseball.  Its good to remember where we came from and what has been accomplished, so a remembrance is always a welcome sight in my eyes.  This year we knew it was coming, the 30th anniversary of the 86 World Series.  It seems to  be a bigger deal this year than the 25th anniversary was, but I always thought the 25th was celebrated more than the 30th, so I’m confused.  Be my confusion what it is, we have chosen to go all out and celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most thrilling World Series’ on record.  With this anniversary there have been a slew of new books coming out celebrating the World Series champs, but today’s books take a look at both teams and gives balanced comparisons of them.

SABR-1986-Mets-Red Sox-image

By: SABR-2016

If you are not familiar with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), you have no idea what you are missing.  They are the folks who do tireless research and find us more information about our sport than we all ever thought possible.  They research complete teams and individual players, and do a stellar job at both.  New for this years 30th Anniversary, they have produced two different but connected books that remind fans that the series was about more than just Bill Buckner.

Both of the books follow the same format, so as I am describing them it pertains to both volumes.  The authors look at each man on that respective teams roster for the 1986 season.  Giving in depth bios, analysis of the season performance and interesting facts about the players.  They follow the same format for the Manager, General Manager, Coaching Staff and Announcers.  So if this is not your home town team you get a real good feel of their complete personnel package.

Next they look at key team performances throughout the year and take note of several key games that helped the team gain momentum and what made them work as a cohesive unit.  Next you see analysis of the Championship Series and the World Series.  Finally, it asks a few honest questions about the way the teams were constructed and the important numbers that stick out for each team.

Quite honestly, this is your typical SABR book and is in line with what we have all come to expect from them.  It is well researched and you feel very comfortable in the fact that you can take all information at face value and accept as that. Mainly this is because of the tireless efforts and dedication of the SABR staff and the quality work that every one of them puts forth on SABR projects.  Each one of these folks that worked on these books should be commended because they have created another quality product.

Baseball fans should check this out because there is always something new fans can learn from these types of SABR books, plus it’s always fun to remember Bill Buckner.

You can get these books from the nice folks at SABR.

1986 Mets/Red Sox

Happy Reading

Gregg