Category: Hall of Fame

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

Last Minute Christmas Ideas for us Baseball Book Lovers


It’s that time of year again.  The malls are packed,  packages are getting wrapped, the credit cards are melting and for us procrastinators, the last-minute shopping rush is on.  If you are shopping for a Baseball book lover you may have a hard time deciding what to get that special someone.  Don’t fear because I have a few last minute ideas for you.

51kalQd433L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Up first is the new book released this year by Greg Lucas, and quite honestly it could not have come at a more opportune time.  With winning the World Series this year, anything about the Astros is a hot commodity.  They have a rich and storied history and while it may be shorter than some of the other teams, they have still had some big names come through the Lone Star state.

Houston to Cooperstown takes a look at the overall history of the franchise.  From its inception in 1962, Lucas walks you through the history of the upstart franchise, through its time in the Astrodome, finally reaching some success on the field and highlighting it with its two newest members in Cooperstown, Biggio and Bagwell.  Next Lucas shows how the team moved to its next stage of existence, getting to their new ballpark, reaching the World Series for the first time and the epic rebuild that helped them win the World Series this year.

For the die-hard Astros fan this is a book that they can’t miss.  It is both comprehensive and enjoyable.  It flows smoothly and keeps the reader wanting more.  They get to re-live some of the great and really not so great times in the team’s history and can honestly feel like they were there, even if some of the stories were before their time.  This book is a really nice way to finish up a World Championship year for the fans of Houston.

Next up…….

I have said this before about books like these, they scare me.  The subject is very subjective and quite honestly no two will have the same set of standards as to what makes a player great.  For example, my favorite player of all-time is Phillies Outfielder from the 70’s Greg Luzinski.  Hardly a household name, but he easily makes my top five Phils, so you see what can happen with these books.

Looking at these two releases I can honestly say there was some serious thought put into the selection of the players chosen to be included.  I usually agree to the selections in these types of books at about of rate of 50%, which I feel is a pretty good rate, but both of these books came in at close to 80% agreement.  I honestly think that I have an average fan outlook and historical evaluation criteria for the most part, so I think that agreement percentage is a great achievement.

Cohen paints vivid pictures of some storied careers that were parts of these historical franchises.  It gives some one on one perspectives of some of the games greats of all time.  These type of books also offer an education element to them because you learn about some names you may never have heard of before.

Fans of either of these teams will obviously want to check these out and see if they agree with Robert Cohen’s pics as well.  These are also valuable to fans that fancy themselves as amateur historians of the game, because you can get some good information on some of the featured players.

You can get any of these books from the nice folks at Blue River Press

Finally, I apologize to all my loyal followers (yes all three of you), with our new addition to the family last year, time is at a premium and unfortunately baseball books have fell victim to my time crunch.  Aubrey does not give me much spare time to read and post, but I will try my darndest to post more in 2018.  I will not after almost 400 posts let this become a zombie blog.

Happy Holidays to all and a safe and healthy New Year to each and every one of you.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Hall of Fame Weekend Has Arrived


Well, I will admit it, I am a lousy Blogger.  Time management is not my strength when it comes to blogging, but nonetheless I have returned to try to catch up on some books.  What better time than now, it being Hall of Fame induction weekend, to catch up on some HOF books so without further comment, lets dive right in.

51RFQb-5eSL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Released earlier this year to conveniently coincide with his induction this year, this book takes a hard look at both Raines’ life and career in his own words.  It comes across as an honest and open account of his own life.  He admits many of his mistakes along the way and how he has tried to make amends to those he hurt.  It also opened my eyes to some of the numbers Raines put up in some of his seasons.  To me he always blended into the scenery of the N.L. East and always looked good but never seemed as good as he turned out to be.  If you have an interest in the Montreal Expos, or like Tim Raines, you will really enjoy this book from Triumph Publishing.  I for one am glad that he finally got his due, Congrats Tim!

51RHI+7JEsL__SX334_BO1,204,203,200_

Last summers inductee Mike Piazza got his own book this year as well.  The book does cover his whole career but really shows the reader why he is in Cooperstown wearing a Mets cap.  It shows the love between Mets fans and Piazza and why he meant so much to them even though he played for other teams.  Greg Prince always brings his A-Game to his books and this is no exception, Mets fans, Piazza fans and even those in Philadelphia will enjoy the story of this local kid who made good.  You can get this one from Sports Publishing.

51s+apBiQYL__SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

Kaplan’s new book brings an interesting look at a single season of Hank’s storied career.  It’s easily one of the strongest years of his career and it shows the trials and tribulations hank endured while chasing the Babe’s single season home run record.  I think this is a rather hard subject to try to unearth so many years later but Kaplan does an admirable job at it and if you have an interest in this period of baseball or the social problems that came along with being Jewish you will enjoy this book.  It also proves that Jackie Robinson was not the only one enduring slurs on the field during that era.  This is another one you can get from Sports Publishing.

 

513c0uIWnSL__SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

This is someone who should be already in the hall, but keeps getting overlooked.  This book is very unique in that it contains tons of pictures.  It shows great images of Allen throughout his entire life and the text that accompanies it with in the book is top-notch.  Its different from any other Dick Allen book on the market so it is worth checking out if you like Dick Allen.  You can grab this one from Schiffer Publishing.

513agClVEML__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I think Alan Trammell will someday be up on that stage getting his plaque in Cooperstown, but until that time all his fans have is this lone book.  Trammell is an often overlooked subject but I have never been able to figure out why.  This is the only book I have ever been able to find on him, but it is thorough and well written and gives his fans a chance to relive his one day Hall of Fame career.  Sometime all you need is one book, as long as it is good, so for Trammell fans and Tigers fans of this era this is your book.  You can pick this one up from McFarland Publishing

51AOGuecvGL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Finally, Clemens is an often covered subject and one day I have a gut feeling he will make the Hall regardless of past sins.  That being said this book attempts to sum up all of the Roger Clemens events throughout his career and after.  It is a one stop shop if you will for Clemens fans and sums everything up as neatly as it can, as opposed to other books that take one aspect of the proceedings and focus on it.   If you are a Clemens fan or of the PED era, check this one from McFarland out.

That sums up this years Hall review and hopefully going forward I will be here more often, but until then…..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.

51J0iYFgoyL__SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Another Batch From McFarland That is Sure to Please


A few weeks ago we looked at a new batch of books recently published by McFarland.  I touched on the obscure factor that some of their books tend to embrace and how they fill a niche spot in the baseball book market.  Today we are going to look at a few more because honestly McFarland has a little something for every baseball fan.

51cdba5qgkl

By:Richard Bressler-2016

McFarland is always willing to publish team history books.  Looking at both the powerhouse teams that are part of the baseball fabric as well as those that time has essentially forgotten.  The year 1910 was an interesting point for the two teams involved in this volume and shows how it laid the groundwork for a streak that lasts to this day.

The 1910 World Series brought us the end of one dynasty and the birth of another.  The Chicago Cubs, coming off several very successful years and a win in the 1908 series were nearing the end of their reign.  While Connie Mack’s Athletics were poised to start a championship run of their own.  It was a fairly anti-climatic Series, but did offer an interesting historical note.  For the first time in World Series history, game two to be precise, was the first time all nine starters recorded a hit in the same game.  Its a neat little trivia factoid you can now impress all your friends with.

This is a timely book with the Cubs poised to possibly end their World Series drought and also it allows the reader to travel back in time to see an entirely different generation of the game.  Fans of either of these teams or of this era, will not be disappointed in this one.

51tbn84fl

By:Jeremy Lehrman-2016

This one takes a look at the history of the Most Valuable player award in Baseball.  It looks at the voting results and provides current statistical analysis to see what may have been different by todays standards.

It is an interesting view as at what may have been overlooked by voters in the past as well as what other factors may have played into the voting results.  It also shows how race may have been an underlying issue on some of the ballots.  The book is a good mix of history, commentary and statistical analysis.  For fans of these types of “what did we miss books”  this is another one you will really enjoy.

9780786499779_p0_v1_s192x300

By:Brian Martin-2016

Finally, as the title says, Pud Galvin, not only the owner of an odd name was baseball’s first 300 game winner.  Enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965, 63 years after his death, his numerous records and 300+ wins still did not keep him from dying penniless.  One of the first real superstars of the game he had some amazing accomplishments on the field and helped grow the credibility of the early game.

One of the other footnotes to Galvin’s story is he may have been the first user of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Major League Baseball.  An advocate of using a monkey testosterone elixir, it seemed to enhance his on field performance.  The difference from today to over 100 years ago is that everyone was on board with the use of the concoction.  It shows a very different time in Baseball and quite honestly is a very interesting story for fans of the early eras of baseball.

You can check out these books and other great titles offered by this publisher at the following link:

McFarland

Happy Reading

Gregg

Strangers in the Bronx-The Changing of the Yankee Guard


I hate to admit it, but I always enjoy a good book about the Yankees.  The Phillies fan in me has a hard time justifying spending the money on purchasing one, much less enjoying a book about the evil empire.  In the past there have been many avenues taken to relay the stories about the fabled team from the Bronx, but as of late it seems we keep taking the same walk around the same block.  I would like to say today’s book would take us on a different tour, but I am sad to say we have been down this road many times.

StrangersInTheBronx

By:Andrew O’Toole-2015

Andrew O’Toole has taken the reader on an adventure with the New York Yankees during a time of transition.  A time when the one of the teams greatest stars was fading and its next one was on the rise.  It shows a time when the Yankees were full of uncertainty but about to embark on a sustained period of success that may never be rivaled.  Say what you will about the Yankees, they have a history that is hard to top.

The book shows what the 1951 season was like for the New York Yankees.  Di Maggio’s last season in pinstripes was not one of his greatest, but he earned the respect he demanded from the masses and his teammates and finished out the season and his career like only Joe DiMaggio could.  Waiting in the wings was Mickey Mantle the young mid westerner who was on his way to fame and stardom and did not even realize what was awaiting him.  Its a tale of two outsiders that came to New York and took a bite out of the big apple.

The downside to New York Yankees books is the fact that no matter what the subject matter is, it gets beat to death.  We have several different authors attack the very same subject and for the most part attain the same results in the end.  If I stop and take a look at my personal library, there are an insane number of books about Mickey Mantle and Joe Di Maggio.  It makes it hard to figure out what is the real truth on either of them.

As far as the 1951 season goes we have seen a few books from different authors.  While they attempt to each provide their own spin on the events of that year, unfortunately, it is impossible to.  This is in no way a reflection on this book’s author, it is just the reality that this book falls into a very crowded playing field.  It reminds me of the old politician saying that we may be saying the same thing, but you haven’t heard me say it yet.

While each of these books offers essentially the same thing, each writer has a different style that may appeal to different readers.  So choose wisely, or if you are familiar with that authors previous work and enjoyed it, stick with that version.  I was hoping we could get to the point where some authors would find something different and give us some new revelations, but I think that ship may have finally sailed.

If this book is one that might capture your interest on the 1951 season, you can get it from the nice folks at Triumph Books.

Strangers in the Bronx

Happy Reading

Gregg

Willie Stargell-A Life in Baseball


I have mentioned before how I find it odd  how certain great players get lost to the passage of time.  I don’t know if that is a product of playing for a smaller market team, playing in the shadow of a teammate or them being the type of player that does not seek the spotlight of the media.  Whatever the case may be, today’s book takes a look at one of those players that left a huge mark on the field but never seems to get the full recognition he deserves.

51jQXeyCsVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

By Frank Garland-2013

Over the past year I have talked on here about two or three other Willie Stargell books.  I have come to the same conclusion with each one that he was an extremely underrated player that was finally getting his deserved props even if they were coming posthumously.

Frank Garland takes an approach to Willie Stargell that is in many ways like the other books.  Looking at his upbringing in California, through his time in the segregated minor leagues to his rise to stardom as member of the Pittsburgh Pirates that culminated in immortality in Cooperstown.  Garland’s research  is very thorough and paints a very detailed and complete picture of Willie Stargell the baseball player.

What is different about this book from the others out there is Garland takes his research beyond just the field.  He gets involved in the story line of Stargell’s life after baseball. This area is one place where the other biographies fail in comparison.  This book shows Willie’s love and involvement in the classical music scene after his retirement.  It also shows his involvement as a coach with the Atlanta Braves.  Many people forget that Willie was a coach in the Braves system and his tutelage left an undeniable mark on some of their up and coming big league prospects.  These are the same prospects that when they finally came to the big leagues won 15 or so division championships.  It shows the knowledge Stargell possessed and how he was able to pass it on to a new era of superstars.

This book is another example of giving Willie Stargell his accolades while presenting some different aspects of the player and the man.  If you have read other Stargell biographies you may find some of what is talked about repetitive, but in the end it does present some new information that was not included in other books.  The book does move along at a moderate pace and allows the reader to stay engaged with the story.

I have yet to figure out why Willie Stargell is relegated to the shadows.  Is it playing in Pittsburgh his entire career, is it the quiet strength he brought to his team or is it playing in the shadow of Robert Clemente?  I am not sure if it is all or any of these but they are reasonable questions to ask.  For this fan though, it is nice to see Willie Stargell remembered for being the superstar that he was both on and off the field.

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

Willie Stargell- A Life in Baseball

Happy Reading

Gregg