Category: Giants

There’s No Place Like Home


When a team changes cities it is a daunting process.  Ownership has to make sure it crosses all its T’s and dots all its I’s to make sure everything will be to their, and more importantly their fans liking.  No where as near as common place as it once was, team transfers can be a great thing for those involved.  New stadiums, new fan base, a whole new chance to invent yourself and the financial rewards usually aren’t too bad either.  That is just what the New York giants were hoping for with their move to San Francisco.  A shiny new stadium to call home accompanied with lots of parking spaces for ownership to sell each night helped sell them on their new locale.  But sometimes all is not what you hope it will be, and todays book takes a look at the Giants move to California and good or bad, depending on where you stood, their new Home Sweet Home.

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We are all well aware of the story of the Dodgers moving to Los Angeles and their conquering of the Southern California market.  Sometimes lost in that great shadow is the Giants, who abandoned the Polo Grounds and the city of New York at the exact same time to help usher in baseball across the continent.  Walter O’Malley was larger than life at times and in that shadow one can understand how Horace Stoneham may have fallen by the wayside.  So with that, it easy to forget the history of the Giants during the first years in California.  Luckily for us this book shows us what it took to get the Giants in place in San Fran and the hopes ownership had for the new frontier.

Robert Garrett does a good job of giving us the background of the team in New York and the situation it found itself in during the late 50’s.  From stadium woes to the personality of Horace Stoneham you get a pretty good feel of what it was like for the team during their waning days in New York.  He shows the courtship of the Giants by a new city and the promises bestowed by the local government, the biggest of all being a new stadium.

Stoneham had a somewhat of a hands off approach to his new stadium as the book shows and it in turn came to bite him in the butt.  Candlestick Park had its own set of issues that are well chronicled in the book which in turn snowballed, enough so that it would essentially destroy many of the dreams of what Stoneham had for this new venture.  In the end it is one of the driving factors that ends the Stoneham ownership of the team.

Next we look at the struggles to find new ownership and the quest to keep the Giants in San Francisco less than twenty years after the had arrived.  Once new ownership was found you see the same struggles of old ownership with the albatross of Candlestick still dangling around its neck.  It shows an interesting look at how baseball operated in regards to stadiums, success at the gate and play on the field.  You see how the Giants, except for a few years as a whole, struggled while they called Candlestick home.  It’s also shown how the people of San Fran really didn’t care if they ever got out of there.

Finally, you see a final change on ownership that get the Giants to a new frontier and a stadium worthwhile of Major League Baseball and the success that comes with that type of arena.   I honestly think this book is a great look at this era of Giants baseball, no matter how bad it was on the field.  It’s a portion of team history that gets overshadowed by the Los Angeles Dodgers moving at the same time, the expansion of baseball and the evolving changes that were going on in both baseball and society.  It proves some dreams take longer than others to come to fruition.

If you have an interest in California baseball during this era this book is definitely worth checking out.  You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press.

Home Team-The Turbulent History of the S.F. Giants

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring has Sprung !!!!


Well, it’s that time of year again.  Opportunity abounds for all, the realization of a life long dream may be in the offing and as it is always said, hope springs eternal.  The new baseball season offers hope to every baseball fan that this is finally going to be their year and their hopes of a championship will be realized.  For those involved in the game, players are hoping to get their big break while others are hoping to hang one for just one more year.  If you take a good hard look at a baseball team, all of these hopes and dreams of just about everyone lay in the hands of just one person, the General Manager.  A position of amazing power, it is also one of great sacrifice and fortitude to attain it and one that comes with some unfair criticism at times.  Today’s book takes a look at arguably one of the modern eras greatest GM’s and what it took to reach the pinnacle.

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Ned Colletti can easily be described as a baseball lifer.  Landing stints for the Cubs, Giants and finally the Dodgers, he got to contribute to three of the most storied franchises in the history of the game.  Now his new book shows what it took to reach his goals as both a person and a professional General Manager.

Ned walks us through his childhood and its a compelling story about an average American kid.  Next he shows us how barely making ends meet he gets his job with the Chicago Cubs and his professional journey truly begins.  It shows the reader how with great sacrifice and perseverance great things can be accomplished.  Next we stop with Colletti in San Francisco and see how the building blocks of a transformation were laid.  Finally we travel to the Dodgers and see what its like dealing with a meddling mess of an owner while trying to build a contender.  His professional story is a fascinating one and his accolades well-earned, but its his personal story that also resonates throughout this book.

You get to see the personal side of a highly respected General Manager and quite honestly we don’t always see that in these books.  His anecdotes may be about baseball, but you get a good feel of his personality when he is telling these stories.  I enjoy books like this that I walk away getting the sense that the subject seems like a pretty decent guy in real life.  The Baseball books afford us to get closer details and some inside information about events that take place, but not always closer to the people involved.

If you have an interest in getting to know a real guy and the inner workings of the front office then this is a book you should check out.  It will be time well spent to get a new perspective on the inner workings of the game and a glimpse at someone who comes off as a pretty decent guy as well.

You can get this book from the nice folks at G.P. Putnum & Sons

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Leo Durocher-Baseball’s Prodigal Son


I am sure no one has missed me on here, but I should probably give a brief explanation of my MIA status.  Between a new job, moving back to Philadelphia and figuring out this whole Fatherhood thing, baseball books have become the victim of circumstances.  Now that we are settled in our new place and the very large former Ron Kaplan book collection has been moved, I can hopefully focus on some more books, but if anyone has any ideas how to get an eight month old to sleep through the night, I would love to hear from you.  I figured I would start back with a book that was highly anticipated by myself and did not disappoint.

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By Paul Dickson-2017

I was familiar with Dickson’s previous work on his Bill Veeck book and really enjoyed that one, so I expected more of the same with this.  Leo Durocher was one of those figures in baseball history that was either loved or hated, somewhere in the middle was not an option.  To date, there have been a few books about Durocher, but none recently so it was a subject worth revisiting.

Paul Dickson takes a hard look at both Durocher’s playing and managing career.  Not really much of a player numbers-wise, he had the small guy attitude that was appreciated by many a manager.  This book looks at his trouble with Babe Ruth and the hard-nosed play that forged his cocky reputation.   It is very thorough look at an often overlooked part of Leo’s resume.

Durocher’s real strength was his managing obviously.  With varying degrees of success at all of his stops in the big leagues, you see how his hard-nosed playing attitude spills over into his managing.  The reader also sees how Leo becomes the victim of a changing game.  How more success early in his career does not carry over in the latter years.  The game changed along with player attitudes, but old Leo stuck to his guns.  It translated into some rough times for the long time manager, but those stops still put the finishing touches on an impressive career.

The one aspect of this book I found most interesting was the details of his private life.  From associations with known gamblers, to his friendships with the Hollywood types, it leads to a very interesting life.  Of course, the four wives add some zing to that private life also.  It is an interesting aspect of Leo that we know some details about, but this sheds a whole new light on the subject.

Overall, this book is tirelessly researched and prepared well.  It gets a little stat heavy at times, but the overall content of the book makes up for that lone aspect I did not like.  If you have any interest in Durocher, or are a fan of this era of the game, check this one out.  At 300+ pages it is a lot of reading but is for sure, time well spent.

Check it out, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Fastball John-An Amazing Life’s Journey


No matter the subject of a baseball biography, there is some sort of story to be told.  Some of these stories are better than others and coincide with the skill level of that particular player. Then there are stories like today’s book that come from an average player that did not put up Hall of Fame numbers, but has a Hall of Fame caliber story to tell baseball fans. A journey that took him all over North America John D’Acquisto’s new book takes a hard and honest look at his life and career and the paths it has led him down.  This honest look at his own life opens up a whole new side of John that fans can appreciate.

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By:John D’Acquisto & Dave Jordan-2016

Fastball John starts the readers on the journey of his life and shows his family roots in San Diego and his journey to become a big league pitcher.  Next you learn first hand what it is like to be a first round draft pick with high expectations in a major league setting.  Stops with major league teams and a few more stints in the minors are covered as well.

John D’Acquisto shows the readers the ins and outs of what being a baseball player is really like.  You see the friendships, the expectations of management, contract disputes and health scares that make up a players life.  What I found really interesting is how personal relationships are intertwined within this story.  It gives a very intimate touch to a career that is usually unable to sustain those types of relationships.  One other factor the the authors were able to incorporate into the story was how the music of the time was able to become part of the moment and permanently ingrained in the memories.

For my money the most interesting part of this story is also one of the saddest.  John D’Acquisto’s life after baseball was one of accusations, falsehoods and betrayal that in the end led to some serious jail time.  John eloquently tells his side of the story of the events that led up to his incarceration and his time behind bars.  The sequence of events that led up to this are almost unbelievable and in the end, when you hear all the details wonder how someone could survive something of this magnitude.  For what it’s worth, I believe D’Acquisto’s side of the story, it unfortunately seems to be him trusting the wrong people at the time and the justice system wanting to make an example of someone with a famous name.

Honestly, we have all read the books written by the Superstars and sometimes pass on the stories of a lower tier player.  This is one of those times you need to make the effort to read the story of that player.  It is a gripping story that shows the genuine side of a Major League Baseball player.  He has had good times and some really bad times, but in the end Johnny D.  comes across as a pretty cool guy.  Loved by the fans of the San Francisco and San Diego, he has paid his dues on both sides of the fence and moved on to well earned greener pastures in his life.  Take the time to read this book and you will be able to see their is still some good left in people and read a very enjoyable baseball book at the same time.

Fastball John

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Bobo Newsom-Baseball’s Traveling Man


I will admit it, 2016 has been off to a somewhat slow start for me with baseball books.  The books from publishers and authors have slowed down somewhat, so I just don’t have as many books to post as of late.  One book that I am glad to say I still had in my arsenal was this one.

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By:Jim McConnell – 2016

Every generation of baseball seems to have that one character that stands out above the others.  Not necessarily for their skills on the field, but more for the character they are off of it.  One of those larger than life characters was Bobo Newsom.  Coming from very humble beginnings in South Carolina, he turned his baseball skills into his own little circus.  Making stops in various cities around the league, some of those actually more than once or twice, he made the best of situations and created himself, the legend of Bobo.

Bobo is definitely an under-covered personality of the game.  Perhaps it is because he passed away more than 50 years ago or perhaps the powers that be within the game want us to forget about him altogether.  Whatever the reasons may be, it is important that we remember these types of people because these dedicated folks are what the game is built on.  Guys like Bobo and Boots Poffenberger need to be remembered for their contributions to the game and not lost to the passage of time.

Jim McConnell has done an awesome job of bringing Ol’ Bobo back to life.  For generations that may have missed him, this book takes you back to the time when Bobo reigned over baseball, to the delight of many and maybe not so much to others.  His career and personal life are both covered in this book and it paints a complete picture of someone we honestly don’t get to read that much about.  I had trouble putting this one down because he played in so many decades that he kept crossing paths with some of the games greats and it kept the story moving along at a brisk pace.  His larger than life personality also made it a very interesting book and kept the reader involved the entire time.

Baseball fans should pick this one up, because it will appeal to fans of the game.  If you are a  fan of a specific teams, there is a pretty good shot Bobo played for your team at one time or another way back when, so it should have some appeal there as well.  In all honesty, there is a great story in this book about one of the games most interesting personalities.  This book is a great tool to teach the future generations of fans about the legend of Bobo Newsom.

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

Bobo Newsom-Baseball’s Traveling Man

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

International Diplomacy Reaches Major League Baseball


Lets face it, in its glorious past Major League Baseball has never been on the cutting edge.  For certain things they may have been ahead of the curve but for most things, not so much.  On this very day in 2015, we as fans all know about the Japanese league of baseball, as many of our players leave here to play over seas.  Also many of their stars have done the same and crossed the ocean to pursue a career in the states.  Today’s book takes a look at the very first player who was chosen to bridge the gap between the two countries and leagues and the results that followed.

BY:Robert Fitts-2015

By:Robert Fitts-2015

Robert Fitts has undertaken a great task with this book.  Not only do you have to make sure your details are accurate and spot on but he also has the cultural gap to overcome.  Masahiro Murakami was the first Japanese player hand-picked to be sent to the United States to the San Francisco Giants.  He originally came as a group of three players but was the only one of the three to have any sort of success on the bigger stage.

Fitts takes you through the upbringing of Murakami and the strict cultural rules he was raised by.  You also get a glimpse of the way that Japanese leagues operate and personal standards that the players must maintain.  The differences are staggering in both training and requirements to be on a professional team in that country.  It shows what a large cultural difference that exist in both leagues and society’s.

You see Mashi’s rise through spring training camps and the minor leagues to reach the big stage in San Francisco.  Success on the field was not enough to overcome Mashi’s sense of duty to his family and dedication to his league and country, which eventually were his reason’s for going back and playing in Japan.  One of the most interesting things I found in this book was the business dealings and player contracts that effected Mashi’s career.  I think personally in the end nobody was sure who truly owned his contract.  Which again points out more of the differences between the two baseball operations.

This book also shows the reader the broader picture of how it was helping to mend relations of two bitter enemies in World War II.  It showed how baseball can play a positive role in society’s problems.  This event was monumental in bringing the two nations back to the table with each other and allowing a better relationship to move forward.  It is a fine example of international diplomacy fostered by a kids game.

This may be a little late but the author Rob Fitts and Mashi are currently on a book signing tour in the United States, so you may want to check his website to see if they are near you.  Meeting Masahiro Murakami is more than likely a once in a lifetime event for most fans.  http://www.robfitts.com

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

http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/mashi,676132.aspx

Happy Reading

Gregg

Coffee Table History Books – the caliber of which will make team fans proud !!!!!


Coffee table books have always been a tough market.  What is out there is usually just a regurgitated version of a prior edition of the same thing.  In all seriousness how many versions of the history of the National League are really out there?  Or how about the history of the Hall of Fame?  Perhaps the 100 all-time greatest pitchers is more your speed.  If you look closely most of these books are re-releases of old books in a shiny new dust jacket.  It makes the coffee table book segment of the book market not I one I found very appealing.  Happily for myself, I have come across a new series of books that I think falls into the coffee table book segment and offers a new and interesting product.

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Insight Editions, has published this line of team histories.  In one sentence these written histories are incredible!  The photos contained in each of these books is of great quality that give you a good feel of exciting team events, as well as some not so often seen moments in team history.  Broken down in to specific decades each books gives you a nice recap of that era and reminds the fans of what went on.  Team triumphs and individual accomplishments are celebrated within the pages of these books.

Now the part that makes these books really special and is the favorite parts of the book for me is, they are like pop-up books for adults.  Yes, I realize that deserves an explanation.  Throughout the book there are team photos that are pop-up style booklets that let you view various unique team photos.  Between that feature, and the high quality pictures found on the fold out pages in various sections of the book, it becomes a unique experience for the reader.  Plus it just makes it plain old fun for adults too.  Insight Editions has raised the bar and really moved the coffee table sector book into an entirely new arena.

Once readers take a look at these books, they will be hooked.  The quality is incredible and really will have fans picking it up time and time again to relive the memories contained within.  Insight Editions will publish an Orioles edition in the very near future and hopefully have more volumes of these team histories, because fans of every team deserve a book this good about their hometown favorites.  Everyone should take a look at these, because even if your team isn’t represented here, they are an enjoyable read and you will probably learn something new as well.  The world has changed in coffee table books, and Insight Editions is leading the way!

You can get these books from the nice folks at Insight Editions

http://www.insighteditions.com

Happy Reading

Gregg