I always hate writing these kinds of posts. Perhaps it is realizing my own mortality in the end that makes them so difficult. Once again I am at the keyboard saying goodbye to another person that I considered a friend of the bookcase. Now friend can be an odd sort of term in its general meaning. I don’t mean friend in the sense that we hung out together, I mean friend in the sense that there was a mutual respect involved and correspondence between both parties. A compliment and a few tips on my writing from one of the greatest sportswriters of his time, automatically moves him to friend status. When this person gives you some decent advice, without asking to help me become better at my craft he automatically becomes more than an acquaintance. While pretty much no one would know me if they tripped over me on the street we all knew who Phil Pepe was.
Phil Pepe was one of the great sportswriters of his time. The author of many….many books that are a joy to read in their entirety and a man who never let his skill go to his head. In a business that has changed drastically over the last few decades he was the one who stood out of the crowd as one of the greats. A member of a dying breed that can never and for a multitude of business reasons will never been replaced.
There are a few authors out there that have written a lot of baseball books. No matter what they write I will read it, because honestly I want to see what their spin on that subject is. Phil Pepe was one of those authors and I was never disappointed. You could always tell his research was thorough and he had an underlying love of the game that I was always able to find in his writings. Of the first 50 baseball books I ever read at least ten were Phil Pepe’s books.
So I bid farewell to someone I have admired and respected for many years. A man who would go out of his way to say an encouraging word for a struggling blogger and an author who was always willing to sign the newest book of his I picked up for my collection. If I had known the last few books he signed for me two weeks ago would be the last, I would have never believed you.
Farewell and Thank You Phil. Writers like yourself are why I thought maybe I could do this blog to some degree and make it a modest success. You were an inspiration and didn’t even know it. The baseball writing world has lost a great one and may never recover.
Happy Reading with a heavy heart
Different point of views are very important in baseball. If you have one hundred people see the same thing, you will get one hundred different takes on what just happened. This is one of the things that makes the game so great. Everyone gets to enjoy it on a personal level and make their own connection with the events as they unfold. Certain writers help the fans understand what they see out on the field, and help them digest the events so that they get full comprehension of what just happened on the field. Jayson Stark’s new book is one of those that helps fans understand what has just happened.
Being from Philadelphia I am very familiar with Jayson Stark’s work. From his days as a Phillies beat reporter to his current ESPN gig, I have enjoyed his work. He always seems to have a good grasp on what the average fan is seeing and has a way to confirm to that person that they are right. He talks to fans in his writings on a level they understand and never tries to prove how smart he is about baseball. It almost feels that you are just sitting around talking to a friend when you read one of his columns.
Wild Pitches is no different in that talking to a friend feel. It seems to be mostly a compilation of some of his previous articles of baseball events after the year 2000. It covers all the big events in the league and some of the not so big ones, but does present a nice mix of teams to the reader. Stark’s writings give you background on the events and then his take on the events and why he feels they are important. They are always well thought out and presented to the reader in a way that is easy to understand and enjoy. The only down side to this book was that the stories were not in chronological order. The end result was the book jumped around a little bit, but most readers will get over that fact.
To me, and I say this without any bias, I always enjoy Stark’s writing. I don’t have to stop and look up words after the fact, when I read his books. Honestly I don’t like it when any writer prints something and gets cute with his word choice, because in the end the reader (me) feels like an idiot. Sometimes in baseball a little bit of being down-to-earth goes a long way. Baseball fans will really enjoy this book, because it covers all the teams not just the Phillies. But on a side note, his Phillies piece in this book is exceptional, especially the chapter about Harry Kalas. You can take the boy out of Philadelphia, but I don’t think they will ever be able to take the Philadelphia out of the boy.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books.
Sportscasters and reporters become part of the game. No matter what city you are in you can always find one that appeals to any fans style. In each city around the country there are dozens of these guys enhancing the fans experience. Bob Ryan has spent his career in Boston assessing various sports and relaying his interpretation of the games to his fans.
Scribe – My Life in Sports
By: Bob Ryan – 2014 Bloomsbury
Bob Ryan like most writers is opinionated. He works on a daily basis to his thoughts, feelings and interpretations to the masses in hopes of finding agreement. It has to be a tough job being in this line of work. Between deadlines, traveling and the stirring of the masses, it eventually has to become a grind.
Ryan’s new book has it all covered. From his upbringing in Trenton NJ, to his time with the Boston Globe. He covers it all, from his childhood seeing the greats of various sports playing the field and covering one on one, some of the greats of the game professionally. The book almost reads like one of Ryan’s columns. Its opinionated and fast-moving throughout.
While its appeal may only be regionally, it still is an interesting read. It keeps you interested throughout and if you are not familiar with his work, you will be by the time you finish this book. That is important for the readers outside of Bob Ryan’s coverage area. You will get an honest feel as to what his work is really like and gain an appreciation for it. The book is very heavy in Boston coverage as you would expect since has spent a majority of his life there. The opinions are strong and the writing is good, so fans should enjoy it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Bloomsbury Publishing