Category: Cardinals

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……….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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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?

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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

 

Bring In the Right-Hander!


Sometimes I find a baseball autobiography and wonder if this player really needed their own book.  If that player had an average, or even less than average career, what could they possibly bring to the table?  Sometimes I get a pleasant surprise when one of those average player writes a book that holds my interest and produces a good reading experience for me.  Today’s book falls into that pleasant surprise category and from an unlikely source to boot.

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By:Jerry Reuss-2014

Jerry Reuss by most standards had an average career.  Never the ace of a staff, but a serviceable arm that would eat innings and help teams in their push to the top.  Pitching for eight teams over a 22 year span, Reuss compiled an impressive win total of 220.  From a pitcher that never won more than 18 games in any given season,  that is an impressive total.

Jerry Reuss starts the reader on a journey through his early years in Missouri, where he first dreamed of becoming a major league pitcher.  Signing with the hometown St. Louis Cardinals, Reuss had all the makings of  a real life dream come true.

Reuss then shows the reader what the inside, off the field life of a baseball player is really like.  Back stabbings by the upper management people he trusted, trades, releases and other not so pleasant things a player deals with on an annual basis.  It shows how much more players even back in those days had to deal with off the field.

The big thing I took away from this book is how remaining true to yourself and dealing fair with people will help you get ahead at whatever your vocation.  Jerry Reuss played more years than many of his contemporaries did who maintained the same skill set.  It comes across as being a combination of perseverance at his chosen trade and being a decent person on and off the field.  In the end this average pitcher ended his career, after a few stops in different cities, the proud owner of a World Series ring.

This book is a pretty enjoyable read.  It moves along at a brisk pace and holds the readers interest through more than just on the field happenings.  Anecdotes about himself and teammates keep you engaged and give you a real feel what it was like to be a teammate of Reuss’.  It also shows a glimpse of the personality of Reuss himself which comes across as a fun loving guy and a great teammate.

If you are a fan of Reuss or any of the teams he played for, take the time to read this book.  It is not a book that one would compare to War & Peace in any way.  It is more of a breezy light hearted read of an average pitcher with an interesting journey.  I wasn’t expecting much out of Reuss’  stories about his career and his teammates, but was pleasantly surprised at what I got.  You never know who or what is going to present you with an enjoyable book.

You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

Bring In the Right-Hander!

Happy Reading

Gregg

Burleigh Grimes-Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer


I will admit my knowledge of baseball prior to World War II is weak at best.  It seems with the popularity of the post war era, it has always held my attention better and quite honestly the record keeping from that point forward is a little more detailed.  When I do venture out of my comfort zone it is usually with an author that I am familiar and one that I trust so that I know I am getting solid information about the player of that era.  In the internet age, the name Burleigh Grimes is easily accessible  and his legacy is easily explained to legions of fans.  But what if you want more than just the last legal spitballer in the game and that he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1964?  I have just the book that puts all the the pieces in place about a life well lived.

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By:Joe Niese-2013

For my journey through this period of baseball history Joe Niese was a more than competent tour guide.  I was familiar with his writing from  his other book Handy Andy that we reviewed on the Bookcase previously, so I was confident this book would be just as good.  He always does top notch research with his books as well, so you know you can trust the facts you get from his books.

Niese walks the reader through the full circle picture that was Burleigh Grimes.  From his modest childhood in Wisconsin, through a Hall of Fame baseball career that included four separate trips to the World Series, with three different teams and the opportunity to play next to a record 36 Hall of Famers.  It easily shows the talent that was playing during Grimes Era as well as the level the game was as a whole prior to World War II.  It also leads to debate about Grimes’s personal statistics as compared to others in the era.  Based on today’s standards I see him as Hall worthy, but it seems when taken against a segmented portion on his era, it may help feed the flames of debate among the detractors who argue about him being enshrined.

Next Niese takes the reader through his post playing days.  His lone stint as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, his life as a coach and scout as well as member of various Hall of Fame committees.  On the personal side you seem to learn a lot about Grimes and get a feel for what he was all about.  Between looking at his time within baseball as strictly a job and the combative attitude he took with him on the field, Burleigh did not give the outward appearance of a real people person.  Perhaps that attitude was helped by having five wives. Finally the author looks at his final retirement years and living a normal life.  To me it seems that Grimes came to grips with the world around him and lost some of his outward grumpiness.

For my money,  Joe Niese did a great job with this book.  He brought back to life someone that not many of us are familiar with.  He portrays a different era in baseball in a light that all fans can relate to and understand. In my mind’s eye this became more than just a sepia tone vision of some old footage from days gone by.  Niese has allowed the reader to feel like they are actually there and understand how things worked during that time.

I think any fans of the history of the game will enjoy this.  It brings to light another forgotten baseball personality.  Just because you made it to the Hall of Fame does not mean you will not fall victim to Father Time.  This book introduces a new generation of fans to one of the games true characters.  Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed.

You can get signed copies of this book direct from authir Joe Niese

Burleigh Grimes

Happy Reading

Gregg

Ken Boyer-All Star, MVP, Captain


It is a very sad fact that no matter how good a player is or was, they sometimes get forgotten in baseball history.  Flashier, louder and more savvy players come along and steal the spotlight while these great players just go about their business playing the game.  This also extends to other arenas like the Hall of Fame, because some players get forgotten by the voters in Cooperstown as well.  Baseball publishing is another area where so many of the stories that should be told, if for no other reason than preservation of the game’s history, usually are not.  Ken Boyer is one of those players that had an incredible career, but truly never got any of the written credit he deserved.  Boyer recently shared a book about himself and his siblings and a few books aimed at the juvenile set were published during his career, but up until now he has never gotten the book he really deserved.  Kevin McCann has published the book that baseball fans have been wanting and waiting for about Ken Boyer.

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By:Kevin D. McCann-2016

Ken Boyer was a staple of St. Louis Cardinals baseball for a long time.  Receiver of numerous accolades during his career, he was the type of baseball player parents were glad that their kids looked up to.  For some reason throughout time, Boyer never got the recognition he deserved form historians.  Perhaps it was his low key demeanor and how he went about his business or some other unknown reason, but it really is a shame the world has not recognized his talents.

Kevin McCann has produced a real gem with this book.  He takes a look at Boyer’s early life and how his early life struggles helped forge the strong personality that his was.  He also takes a look at Boyer’s climb up the baseball ladder.  Experiences in the Minor Leagues all added to the personality that eventually shone through in St. Louis.

McCann also takes the reader on a journey along with Ken Boyer through his impressive time manning Third Base for the Cardinals.  World Series triumphs, All-Star Games and an MVP award just to keep it interesting were all bestowed upon Boyer while manning the hot corner.  Next he takes you through the winding down portion of his career with stops with the Mets, White Sox and Dodgers.  But the journey doesn’t stop there with Boyer.  The author shows us the steps Boyer took to remain in baseball.  By starting at the bottom and working his way back up again, he was able to take over the managerial reigns of the Cardinals for a while with limited success before his untimely death in 1982.

Finally McCann makes a solid case for Boyer’s inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Honestly if you can make a solid case to have Ron Santo in the Hall  at this point then Ken Boyer is a no-brainer for induction.  For some reason baseball has overlooked Boyer’s career and has shown to some degree the flaws with the Hall of Fame voting system.

McCann has written a great book with this one.  The writing style flows smoothly, moves fast and makes the reader feel like they were actually there.  It is a great story that I for one am glad is finally being told on the level it deserves.  The book is very hard to put down once you get started.

Baseball fans should check this one regardless of team allegiance.  It is a player that should be given the historical respect he deserves and hopefully this book takes an important step forward in gaining recognition for the legacy Ken Boyer left behind.

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

Ken Boyer-All-Star, MVP, Captain

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

A Book That Most of Us Have Been Waiting For


There are few figures in baseball that were as polarizing as Dick Allen was during his career.  Philadelphia fans maintained a blurry line between love and hate for Dick which helped forge his reputation that followed him from city to city.  Allen was a bonafide superstar during his era, who some say never met his true potential.  Multiple stops in his career ended in messes that were partially Dick’s fault but in hindsight not totally.  There have not been many attempts at putting Dick Allen’s complete story in print, quite honestly, this is one of the few I have ever found in my travels.  Now there is a new book coming out in a few weeks that gives a more in depth look at the man behind the legend.

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By: Mitchell Nathanson-2016

Where does one even start when talking about Dick Allen?  He is such a complex personality that has gotten so little attention since his retirement that it would seem overwhelming to any writer willing to tackle the subject.  The prior book about Dick Allen as mentioned above relied on interviews with Allen himself.  It presented some conflicting stories that made the reader feel like he did not get the whole story.  This new book relies on interviews with some people who witnessed events first hand and gave a different perspective on everything that happened.

Nathanson walks the reader through Dick’s entire career, from the minors to all his stops in the majors.  He shows the horrible treatment Allen endured in the south during his baseball training as well as the same racism he he had to put up with playing for Philadelphia.  The author dissects the love hate relationship between Allen and the Phillies fans and shows his treatment may have been a part of the bigger mindset of the town itself, not just a personal dislike for Allen.   On the flip side of the City of Philadelphia’s shortcomings you also get to see how Dick Allen did not make the situation better for himself along the way.  Some things get clarified while other things may forever be a mystery.  Neither party is innocent in the course of events but this book helps clarify the fact that the events that happened in Philadelphia were not all Dick Allen’s fault.

The author also covers all of the other stops along Dick’s career path.  While each one had a mix of success and trouble, each one ended the same way, the team was glad to be moving on.  The most interesting part to me of this book was the events that led up to Dick’s return to the Phillies.  You see the change in the city’s  mindset and team management that helped welcome Dick home for one last stand.  You can see the healing on both sides and the change of attitudes.  To some extent I think the Phillies fans realized what they once had and to some degree were willing to make amends for past indiscretions.  This also allowed Dick to leave baseball on his own terms and finish up with the Oakland A’s.  The only thing I wish this book had was more about Dick on a personal level.  It mostly sticks to his career, but does offer a few glimpses behind the scenes.  I wold like to know more about Dick Allen the person, but few of us will ever be so lucky.

This book really sheds some light on Dick Allen and the events of his career.  There are plenty of things that transpired that fans, owners, management and Dick himself should not be so proud of, but it does give a complete picture of what happened during those times.  All that aside, the most recent question as of late is does Dick belong in the Hall of Fame.   If you remove the Phillies association out of the equation for me, I still say yes to his induction.  He was a major player in the 60’s and 70’s and made some great contributions to the game on the field and contributed some great things of the field when he mentored younger players. His introverted personality may have rubbed some people the wrong way at the time, but it still not diminish his contributions to the game.  Hopefully the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will get it right the next time around.

Baseball fans should not miss this book.  It is a player that never has gotten much book coverage and it really sheds new light on what we all thought about Dick Allen.

You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pennsylvania Press

God Almighty Hisself

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Boyer Brothers of Baseball


Baseball is all about families.  It brings them together as fans of a team, it can also tear them apart as fans of opposite teams.  Regardless of those facts it is still about family.  Baseball is also known for the families within the game.  The Boone’s, the Bragan’s, the DiMaggio’s and the Griffey’s are just a few of the families that have played the game.  One of the games more prominent families has been the Boyer’s.  Most people think of just three brothers that were a part of the game.  But in reality that is just scratching the surface and today’s book takes a look at the entire talented family.

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By: Lew Freedman-2015

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times.  I am a sucker for a good Lew Freedman book.  I enjoy his writing style and think he has a knack for writing about under-appreciated subjects. The Boyer’s are no different.  For the amount of skill that came out of one family they are not covered as much as one might think.  Most coverage is of the most successful player of the bunch Ken, but their family story has a lot to offer.

In reality the Boyer’s offered the world seven baseball players.   Each one possessed skill sets to varying degrees but due to injuries, some careers may have been cut short.  How many of us even knew about Lynn or Ron Boyer being related to the famous Boyer brothers.  I know I sure didn’t so this book was a real eye opener for me.

Lew Freedman walks the reader through the Boyer’s western Missouri upbringing and how they functioned as a family unit.  You see each of the brothers nurture their craft and become successful in their chosen game.  While some baseball careers may not have worked out as expected, you still get to see how they helped each other grow and in their own ways pushed each other to be better.  Its interesting to see how the brothers enriched each others lives and inadvertently made each other better players.

Freedman has another winner in a sometimes overlooked subject.  The Boyer story is an interesting and important part of what makes the game of baseball so great.  All fans should check this out, it is a really nice story that shows how intertwined both baseball and the family unit actually are.

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

The Boyer Brothers of Baseball

Happy Reading

Gregg