Category: History

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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

Macho Row-The 93 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code


This weekend will be a momentous occasion for my fairly new little family.  We have decided to take my Daughter Aubrey to her first Phillies game this Sunday.  Now for some families this might not be a big deal, I mean come on she will never have any recollection of this game except for any pictures that get taken, but for us this is a big deal.  It is the start of hopefully a life long love of going to the ballpark, smelling the grass and taking in the sights and sounds.  It is also a milestone in our return to the Philly area because this is one of the things we missed doing the most.  So I decided it was a good time to check out today’s book, because no better time than now to make it a full Philadelphia Phillies weekend.

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By :William Kashatus-2017

William Kashatus is no stranger to authoring books about the Phillies.  His previous book showcases a great era in team history and has been featured on here previously.  I thought this books’ timing was a little odd since it is the 24th anniversary of the team……..not the 25th and there was no real notable events surrounding team members other than Curt Shilling still can’t shut his mouth.  But I can once again Kashatus has thrown this avid Phillies fan another walk back through time to revisit the glory days of a team whose successes at that time were few and far between.

This team was a bunch of freaks and cast offs from other teams to put it nicely.  Assembled as an attempt to right a sinking ship in Philadelphia, they endeared themselves through rugged play and in the end easily became one of the most beloved teams in the history of the Phillies.  This book takes a look at these personalities and shows what they were like both on and off the field.  Pulling no punches, it brings up the question of who was using PED’s on that team, but this book does show once again that unfortunately we as fans may never get a definitive answer on the subject.

The book also highlights some of the more monumental events of that magical season and the effect it had on the city of brotherly love.  As a first hand witness of this team and its effect on the city, the author does a great job of portraying the team, its players, its attitude and general overall demeanor.  They were a bunch of guys that everyone in the city wanted to hang out at the bar with.  For no other team would fans sit through a twi-night double header that stated at 5:30 p.m., endured multiple rain delays and ended at 4:41 a.m..  It is still my most favorite game that I have ever been to, one reason being once the bars closed at 2 a.m. everyone was coming to the ballpark.  There were more people there at 4 a.m. then when the game started.  All because everyone loved these guys.

If you were not able to witness the team first hand, this book gives fans a great feel of what they were all about.  Almost 25 years later Macho Row holds a special place in fan’s hearts.  They may be a little older now, but it hasn’t slowed any of them down, they still get in fist fights amongst themselves when the make appearances in the area and quite honestly the true Phillies fans don’t expect any less from most of them.

All baseball fans should check this out because it is a vivid contrast against the super teams of today’s baseball.  The were a bottom feeding, scrapper team that made it to the top on strictly grit and determination.  Make the effort to check this one out from the University of Nebraska Press, it is definitely worth the time.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Big League Dream-The Sweet Taste of Life in the Majors


Baseball allows fans unparalleled access to our heroes.  It could be an autograph appearance at the local supermarket, a brief encounter at the ball park or some other circumstance that allows a friendship to blossom.  On that last event some of us are luckier than others in what happens, but in the end, it is all of sharing our love of the game.  Roy Berger is no stranger to the game, a life long fan that has had the great opportunity of attending multiple fantasy camps for some of his favorite teams.  I showcased Roy’s Previous book here last year that details his exploits as a fantasy camper.  The Most Wonderful Week of the Year  Now Roy is back with a new book sharing some of the friendships he has gained by being lucky enough to live the life even if it’s only one week a year.

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I will admit it, Roy is one lucky guy.  Having the means many of us don’t have, he is able to hob-nob with our heroes from various eras and make some really great memories in the process.  His just released book, Big League Dream walks us through the relationships he has created and also showcases the stories of  some great names as well.

The veteran of several fantasy camps, Berger has gotten friendly with former players such as Kent Tekulve, Mike LaVaillliare, Jim Mudcat Grant, Bucky Dent, Fritz Peterson and Steve Lyons, just to name a few.  But, the better side is he has forged relationships with these guys and gets the memories that goes along with it.

Each chapter in this book showcases the player’s life and career  and also details the authors interactions with them on a personal level.  It shows a more human side of these guys that some of us may never have access to at any time in our lives.  It is a neat look behind the curtain that portrays to the reader what it might be like if we were in his shoes. Another nice aspect of this book is Roy’s story about attending fantasy camp for the first time with his sons recently.  It adds a nice family theme to the book and shows what great relationships and memories baseball is capable of fostering.

Roy’s books are always a good read for the average baseball fan who loves the game.  It gives us an opportunity to live vicariously through Roy and see what it’s like to cross those lines even if only for one week a year.  Fans should check this one out, it’s a fun and easy read and gives a great glimpse at what life is like for those lucky enough to do something like this.

Check out Roy Berger’s website Big League Dream and check out all the various formats you can get this book in, you won’t be disappointed.

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

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.

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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