Category: Semi-pro

The Texas League Baseball Almanac


I have said before history is a an important part of the game of baseball.  No matter what level of baseball that you are a fan of, you need to know the facts.  With the surge in the popularity of Minor League Baseball you get to see the future of the game.  While witnessing that future you should also remember those that never made it past that level to become the future.  Minor league history has not always gotten the coverage it has deserved but now there is a new book that allows you to get a look at one of the leagues on a day by day basis.

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The Texas League Baseball Almanac

By:David King & Tom Kayser – 2014 The History Press

The Texas League Baseball Almanac is a neat little tool for fans of the league.  It gives you a year-long day by day breakdown of  the exciting moments that happened in the league.  Memorable games, record-breaking events on the field and player triumphs have all been recorded.  It allows you to take a walk through the years of the league and see the  great moments that have happened.  For many fans it would be a great history lesson and allow them to connect with some of those players they may not of ever heard of before.  Where else will you be able to find out when Jo-Jo Jackson was ejected from the game before the line-ups were even exchanged?

These books are important because it gives some history in print to a forgotten era.  There was a time when the local minor league was the only game in town.  Before MLB expansion west of St.Louis, some of these leagues were more popular than the Majors.  Unfortunately, records have not always been kept as meticulously as they could have been so this book helps fill in some of the holes that may have been missed.  The Negro Leagues had the same record keeping problems and most of those records are gone forever, so its nice to have a book like this to cement some of the information.  Fans of the league will enjoy this book because it’s a nice look at some of the events that might not have necessarily brought headlines.  It’s easy for everyone to remember the big things that happen, but its the little things that happen on a daily basis and the people involved, that tell the whole story.

You can get this book from the nice folks at The History Press

http://www.historypress.net

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Summertime Dreams – Yes, Girls Can Play Baseball!


The movie A League of Their Own tought baseball fans lots of things.  We learned there is no crying in baseball, Jimmy Dugan also warned us to avoid the clap, but most importantly it introduced to a whole new generation of fans the fact that girls can play baseball.  It opened up a whole new arena to baseball fans, new teams, new stories and new history.  There are so many stories out there to be told I am honestly surprised there have not been more books like this one.

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Summertime Dreams, Yes, Girls Can Play Baseball

By:Dolly Niemiec Konwinski and Doug Williams- 2013

Dolly “The Gopher” Niemiec grew up in a generation where only boys and men played baseball.  It was a mans sport and at the time no one really though about girls playing baseball.  Until one day a life changing event happened.  Dolly’s father found an ad for local tryouts for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  That tryout changed her life and occupied her time as a member of the league from 1948-52.  Unfortunately her career was cut short due to an auto accident in 1952.

Doug Williams has helped Dolly compile her memoirs in this little gem.  It takes a nostalgic look back at her career in the AAGPBL but her story doesn’t end there.  Dolly and Doug also take you on the journey of life after baseball which includes careers as a professional Bowler, professional Umpire, as well as helping build aircraft for the military.  It really is an extraordinary story and an enjoyable read.

I have not found a lot of books like Summertime Dreams on the market.  I have only found a handful of books from the women who played in the AAGPBL.  In reality for the amount of players that were in the league you would think just due to the law of averages you would find more books.  Sadly many of the stories from that league are being lost due to the passing of time.  I wish some more of the former players would take advantage of sharing their story so its available for future generations.  It may not be MLB baseball as we have now, but it is still an important part of baseball history

Dolly’s story is truly inspiring and shows that women can do anything that men can.  In my life, I may already view things that way, but there are probably still some people who feel that women are inferior to men.  Those people need to read this book and see how it really is.  Baseball fans should really enjoy getting a glimpse into this period of history and hearing some of those remarkable stories first hand right from the Gopher’s mouth.

You can get copies of this book by e-mailing the co-author Doug Williams

 jdougwilliams@verizon.net

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Houston Baseball – The Early Years 1861-1961


There was a point in time in the United States, that you could throw a stone and hit some sort of baseball team.  Prior to the late 1950’s Major League Baseball was fairly regional, with no team calling anywhere west of St. Louis home.  That led to the opportunity for small towns and larger forgotten towns to have their own brand of baseball outside of the Big Leagues.  Unfortunately relocation of existing teams westward generated by the Dodgers move to Los Angeles, and the ensuing expansion in both leagues killed some of the small time baseball in those towns.  Lucky for all of us, at least one of those towns history before big time baseball arrived has been preserved in print.

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Houston Baseball-The Early Years 1861-1961

By:Mike Vance/SABR-2014 Bright Sky Press

Prior to 1962 Houston never had a Major League team.  The Colt 45’s were the first time Houston got invited to dance with the big boys.  For the century prior to 1962, Houston was not forgotten by the baseball gods.  They had the opportunity to see their fair share of talent pass through town and entertain the locals.  From amateur ball, to the negro leagues and even minor league baseball, Houston was a big time player in the history of the game.

Editor Mike Vance and the Larry Dierker chapter of SABR have created a very informative and entertaining book.  It takes an in-depth look at what transpired in Houston during the 100 years prior to the arrival of the Houston Colt 45’s.  It covers everything from the very early years of organized baseball in the city to the transition to major league baseball.

The contributors to the book have made sure that every facet of Houston baseball gets covered.  Ballparks through the years are covered in the book.  Seeing drawings of the makeshift fields to formal stadiums you see how the game grew and progressed in the city.  They also show some of the Major Leaguers that made stops in the early careers in Houston on their way to stardom.  Each of the various minor league teams that called Houston home are also remembered in this book.  Owners, semi pro leagues as well as the Negro Leagues in the Houston area are not forgotten either.

The research in this book has been painstakingly done and it shows.  They went above and beyond in creating a really comprehensive book that showcases Houston’s history within the game.  Students of the history of the game really should take a look at this book, because almost everyone is guaranteed to learn something from it.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Bright Sky Press

http://www.brightskypress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide


The thing I have really enjoyed about having my own blog is I can read whatever books I feel like and have a purpose for reading them.  I have forced myself to get out of my normal comfort zone of baseball autobiographies and look at all the other types of baseball books out there.  Today’s book is one of those instances where I get out of my comfort zone and jump deep in to the history of the game that is often forgotten.

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Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide

By Sol White/Gary Ashwill-2014 Summer Game Books

I will be the first to admit my knowledge of the Negro Leagues is weak at best.  The information out there on its formative years is somewhat limited Quite honestly the league records were more word of mouth than official statistics.  But thankfully due to Sol White’s foresight over 100 years ago, some of the information has been saved for generations to come.  There have been a few reprints of this book throughout the decades but Summer Game Books has put a new spin on this classic.

With an introduction by baseball historian Gary Ashwill you take a journey into the almost forgotten history of the early Negro Leagues.  Sol White wrote this book with the idea of preserving the history of the league and showcasing its stars.  It gives detailed information of the people and teams that made up the early years of the league.  From players to owners it gives some in-depth information on a very important time in the formation of the league.

The book contains statistics and advertisements of the time that were included in the initial publication of the guide as well.  The thing I found most interesting was that there are only four verified copies of the original publishing of the guide known to exist.  You would think that something with the importance of this book and its initial publishing, would have fared the passing years in greater numbers.

If you are trying to learn about the early years of the league this book is a great source of information. You can see what it was really like for an upstart league trying to make a go of it in a time when segregation was the norm.  Baseball history buffs will really enjoy getting a glimpse in to this time period and seeing how things have really changed.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books

http://www.summergamebooks.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

Baseball’s Peerless Semipros-Bushwick


When I had the thought of doing a book review blog, I figured I would stick to just doing autobiographies.  I knew there were tons of those types of books out there to pick from.  What I didn’t realize was that there was books on so many different facets of the history of the game.  I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the books I have found, and it has allowed me to become a history student again.  Todays book added some new information to my ever-growing knowledge base.

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Baseball’s Peerless Semipros

Thomas Barthel-2009 St. Johann Press

I will admit before I got this book I had never heard of the Bushwicks.  Happily though, through my learning process I found a very interesting story.  A bunch of semi-pros, former major leaguers and negro-leaguers formed a high quality team that most competitors found, was hard to beat.  Through the process of winning they also produced a form of civic pride that most residents of Brooklyn found more appealing than the professional teams of the day.

Max Rosner who was a Jewish immigrant was the owner of the Bushwicks.  Through his hard work and promotion he built a local empire.  He basically created one of, if not the biggest draw of the first half of the twentieth century participating in baseball.  That is no small feat if you consider he was competing against the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants in the same city.

I always find it interesting that you can see where something considered an innovation back in the day was derived from.  Rosner was the brainchild behind the idea of night baseball under the lights.  His idea sprang forth a full five years before the Cincinnati Reds decided to give it a try.  It is small innovations like that which are now part of the everyday norm in baseball.

Barthel gives you a year by year look at the Bushwicks and the triumphs and struggles they encountered along the way.  One of the big things they had an issue with was finding qualified competition.  The team existed in almost a no-mans land if you will.  They were not major league quality but still too good to be considered amateurs.  It almost looks as if they were a quality minor league team in an era before minor league baseball existed.

You really get a glimpse in to the inner workings of a baseball team before MLB ruled the world.  They may not have been the big apples within the Big Apple but they were still a pretty impressive team.  Books like this I always enjoy because they are definitely off of the mainstream that baseball fans normally read and talk about.   History buffs will really enjoy this and each fan should take the time to read and learn something new.

You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Johann Press.

http://www.stjohannpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg