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.
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
With this week’s Hall of Fame vote finally announced, you get to see how many truly amazing players that played the game. Every year we fight about the superstars and who deserves to be enshrined this year. Beyond these greats are the people who are the backbone of the game. The good and borderline great players who are not Hall worthy but still had really good careers. There are also the people who had solid days on the field but were honestly nothing memorable otherwise. For every Hall of Fame caliber player there are hundreds of other players that fell below them in the grand scheme of the game. It is important that history does not forget these types of players. Through their hard work and dedication they have helped forge the story of baseball. Today’s book takes a look at one of those players that had a good career, that while not Hall worthy, still was good enough to be respected and admired by various generations.
I went into this book only familiar with Swish Nicholson’s time with the Philadelphia Phillies. A member of the beloved Whiz Kids, he was a name that Phillies fans were accustomed to hearing as one of the Philly greats. It turns out before Bill ever stopped in my hometown, he had a really incredible career in the Windy City with the Cubs, but was hindered by the fact that his prime was during the height of World War II. Being a wartime slugger discounted his achievements on the field because the rest of the world felt all the best players were off serving in the military. This fact created the perception of Swish Nicholson’s career as not being as good as his numbers portrayed, because the competition was not up to its normal MLB standard.
This book makes a very solid attempt at showing Nicholson’s career in the correct light it deserves. It gives a lot of background on his personal life and growing up in the early 20th century. The book gives the reader a real feel of what Bill Nicholson was like off the field, as well as what kind of exceptional player he was on it. This book also shows life after baseball and with older players, I find it interesting to see their transition back into regular life. It is so different than what modern players have to go through. It has to be very hard to go from being a star on the field to a regular guy working 9 to 5 and punching a clock.
Book like this are important in that they keep the memories of players whom may not have been Hall of Fame worthy alive in the minds of baseball fans. Books like this bring the past back to life and show readers various eras of the game they have only heard of through stories of older generations. Fans should check out Swish Nicholson, it is one of those books that is both entertaining and educational for everyone.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
Being born and raised in Philadelphia I believe I have seen some horrible Phillies teams. Even New York Mets fans can relate to that after being through their inaugural season. Those teams fail in comparison to the 1916 Philadelphia A’s. After a final record of 36 wins in a 154 game season, they secured their spot in history. Which brings us to today’s book….
A’s Bad as it Gets-Connie Mack’s Pathetic Athletics of 1916
By:John Robertson and Andy Saunders-2014 McFarland
Connie Mack, the grand ol’ man of baseball was obviously at the helm of this lackluster team, and even he could not work his magic on this team. The odd thing about this team was the fact, that in the first half of the decade they were a team of great success. Perhaps they were cursed, perhaps the penny-pinching ways of Mr. Mack was catching up with them or maybe some undisclosed curse of the A’s in Philadelphia. Whatever the reason was, this team was horrible!
This book starts out giving you some background on the Philadelphia Athletics and some of the triumphs they had in years prior. The authors then break down a month by month recap of the 1916 season including spring training. This team seemed doomed from the get go. Finally, the aftermath of the 1916 season and the lasting effects were analyzed as to how they effected the subsequent seasons in Philadelphia. Except for a few seasons of success here and there, this was the first signs of an almost cursed franchise.
Personally I think the A’s were the worst team ever. I know to some degree it has been debated in the baseball realm, but based on winning percentage the 1916 A’s win hands down………hey the A’s finally won something. I also think it was the result of Mack’s penny-pinching that resulted in such a bad team. These type of financial moves hindered Mack for most of his remaining time in Philadelphia.
Usually books pertaining to this era, I have some trouble getting through, but that was not the case with this one. The authors were very structured and each chapter was well thought out. The two authors who hail from Canada were also very well versed in Philadelphia Athletics history. The relevance of this book shows in the fact that there still has not been a team that played worse than the 1916 A’s almost a full century later.
All baseball fans should enjoy this book. It sheds some light on an important benchmark that still stands with in the game to this day. I honestly feel that this record will never be broken. With the quality or lack there of in baseball today, I just don’t see it being possible. You can’t lose them all in reality.
You can get this from the friendly folks at McFarland Books