Category: Phillies

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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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

Another Dumpster Fire Added to the Mix


It has been a very interesting week in American history.  First the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after a 108 year drought, breaking the curse of the Billy Goat.  Secondly, the Presidential election is finally over, and no matter whose side you were on, it would be hard to deny that it had its plot twists, keeping it interesting to say the least.  So now as we look into the cold, hard baseball-less Winter, we readers need to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained until Pitchers and Catchers report in February.  I figured the best way to start out the off season was to start with an undeniable dumpster fire of a book that will help keep all of us warm on those cold nights.

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By:Lenny Dykstra-2016

Growing up, Lenny Dykstra for me was the epitome of cool.  He played for my hometown Phillies and was the spark plug that ignited the team on a daily basis and his hard nosed play would excite any fan.  As the years passed rumors came to light about Lenny’s behavior off the field, but he was still our guy.  Fast forward 20 years and you see what a train wreck Dykstra made of his life and those around him that he touched.

House of Nails is Dykstra’s attempt at setting the record straight with the world.  Talking candidly about his steroid use, his financial investments and other business dealings along with his time in prison.  To some degree it is an apology to some of the people he wronged, but when you read it closer it also seems to feel like Dykstra is still trying to sell the world his program on investing strategies.

The book covers in depth his baseball career and why he thinks he was so awesome on and off the field during his day.  He also tells readers how he was wronged  by those around him and how the course of events that left him penniless and in prison, were none of his doing.  From my perspective I just don’t buy his story.  He ran a media marketing circus around this book and just came off as a guy desperate for attention once again.  He wanted the reader to buy that he changed his ways in life and was on the road to being a decent guy ready to embrace life.  From some of the picture he posted on line he may to some degree be changing, but when you read stories about him screwing respected co-author Peter Golenbock out of his work on this book, you start to see it’s the same  old Lenny.

If you want to read a story about a beat up old player trying to relive some of his old glory and tell you why he is the best, then this is the book for you.  You get some inside stories about his career, but honestly how much of it is even the truth.  Any book that Lenny himself is involved in has to contain some level of B.S..  It just seems to be how Lenny rolls and it is a shame Golenbock got involved with him in the first place.

Check it out if you dare, just don’t stand too close to the flames.  It has some value in the baseball book world but will never be considered great literature, even with Peter Golenbock’s touches.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Harper Collins

House of Nails

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Mike Schmidt-Philadelphia’s HOF Third Baseman


Growing up in Philadelphia, my childhood coincided with the career of one Michael Jack Schimdt.  Arguably one of, if not the greatest third baseman to ever play the game of baseball.  Owner of 548 Home Runs, three MVP awards and a World Series Championship to go along with his Hall of Fame resume.  The only down side to Schmidt’s career was the love hate relationship he had with the Phillies fans.  I got to witness the sometimes borderline train wreck relationship between the 3rd baseman and the fans, and honestly it was not always pretty.  I finally found a book that shows the softer side of the burly third baseman and helps fans in Philadelphia appreciate what we really had.

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By:William Kashatus-2000

I admit this book is a little dated.  It came out five years after Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995,  and at the time, and even today for that matter there is not a wealth of Schmidt books on the market.  He is a complex personality that was never truly appreciated by the Philadelphia fans until he was almost gone.

William Kashatus does a tremendous job of chronicling the career of Mike Schmidt.  The high school and college injuries that almost ended the career before it began.  The minor league struggles that helped shape his personality and forced him to question his abilities. The author also shows an inside look at the pressures the Phillies put single-handedly on Schmidt’s shoulders and the effects it had on his career development.

This book also shows the reader the great influence that Pete Rose was on Schmidt’s career after they picked up the free agent to get them over the playoff hump.  He was the extra mentor Schmidt needed to build some self esteem and accept and realize his true talents.  It also shows the ongoing relationship that transpired between the fans, the media and Mike Schmidt.  If you were not in Philly during his career this book gives a real good portrayal of what really went down.

There are a few books about Schmidt out there but not something that shows this much career depth about Schmidt himself.  It was a little light on personal details about Schmidt’s life and I think by design Schmidt may have agreed to be interviewed for the book  with that condition.  Even with that restriction this is still the most thorough and in depth look at the player and the man.

All baseball fans can learn something from this book.  Even Phillies fans can gain some new insight from this as well.  Its well worth the time to read it.

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

Mike Schmidt

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

Swish Nicholson-Wartime Baseball’s Leading Slugger


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.

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By:Robert A. Greenberg-2008

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

“Swish” Nicholson

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

The Fall of the 1977 Phillies


I am a born and raised product of Philadelphia.  I am loyal to my teams, much of it to a fault and live and die by what they accomplish.  In my lifetime my Phillies have won two World Series Championships, five pennants and twelve division titles.  For some teams that may be impressive considering it covers over four decades, but not for the Phillies.  They have been around for almost 135 years and have had limited success.  Even when they capture the brass ring they somehow find a way to screw it up.  Today’s book takes a look at how the Phillies are intertwined with the city of Philadelphia’s self image and how they have helped shape each others destinies.

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By: Mitchell Nathanson-2008

Let me start out by saying, we Philadelphia sports fans are nowhere near as bad as our reputation states.  Yes we are passionate, yes we are dedicated and yes we expect 110% effort from our players.  We hate to see other stadiums where the game is an afterthought, people only go there for the social status attached to it and leave by the 7th inning to beat traffic.  We are not the baby hating, nun tripping, puppy kicking hate mongers the world has made us out to be.  We are just very, very dedicated, I mean seriously we only beat up Santa Claus that one time.

Mitchell Nathanson has written a book that take a look at the 1977 Phillies NLCS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  That series contained a sequence of events that Phillies fans to this day refer to as Black Friday(Game 3). Basically, it was the game that shifted the entire series momentum to the Dodgers and they never looked back.   My journey as a Phillies fan started the next day after Black Friday when my Dad took me to Game 4 for my very first in person game at Veterans Stadium at the ripe old age of four.

Nathanson does a very nice job of reviewing the series but what I found more interesting about this book is how shows the parallel between the city’s baseball teams and its self worth.  It chronicles both the Athletics and their time in town as well as the Phillies.  Quite honestly when Philly had two teams the Phillies were the red headed step child of the town. Only after the A’s departure did the city start to identify with the hapless Phillies.

The book does do a very nice job of covering the events of the 1977 NLCS as they unfolded.  The downside is that portion of the story is no more than 30% of the entire book.  It has more written about activities in Philadelphia and the history of the city. If you are not from Philadelphia or do not have some sort of interest in city politics you may have a bit of trouble getting through this.  Overall it does a very nice job of sharing the story of Philadelphia, but if you are looking for a true baseball story it may not have enough game information to hold your interest.

Readers should check it out so that they can get a better idea of why the Phillies fans are the way we are, and may God have mercy on our Philly sports fan souls.

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

The Fall of the 1977 Phillies

Happy Reading

Gregg