Category: Yankees

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

Baseball’s Fallen Angel


I easily admit that my favorite genre of baseball books are the biographies.  They help show the real person behind the player’s public image and sometimes allows fans to get an inside scoop on some events.  On the other hand some of the biographies are ghost-written, self-serving and are just a ploy to both increase popularity and pocket a few extra bucks.  Thankfully for readers, those books are usually evident before you ever make the mistake of buying them.  Readers should also be grateful to find books like today’s autobiography, because it shows the human side of a player, flaws and all, and does not sugar coat anything.

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By:Eli Grba & Doug Williams-2016

Now we all know Eli Grba did not have a Hall of Fame baseball career by any measure but he this book shows that he is a Hall of Fame caliber person.  He had a well known problem with alcohol during his playing days and subsequent years and that honestly is just the tip of the iceberg in this compelling life story.

Eli Grba walks the readers through his entire life story in this book.  From his upbringing and his time labeled as a troubled youth and the multiple problems associated with that tag to the his showing promise as a stud pitcher.  You see the highs and lows of his life through all of its stages and it shows his true human side.  It also shows the love he had for his family, especially his mother, and how he has realized later in life the trouble and pain he has caused for those who loved him.

Grba also walks the readers through his rise through the baseball ranks and his eventual arrival to the majors.  He shows us the troubles he had along the way and how alcohol was the usually the underlying theme to these issues. He also shows us how in the end, alcohol derailed his promising career and how except for a few highlights it was talent wasted.

This book is a great look at a player who has come to terms with his demons and admirably overcome them and made his life better for both himself and those around him.  He talks extensively about his mother and the closeness they had and now realizes the pain he caused her over the years.  Throughout the book Eli is very honest with the readers and pulls no punches about his faults and failures along the way.  It is refreshing in this day and age to say anyone take responsibility for their actions, but it is even more eye opening to see a former professional athlete do it .

This is a great book for baseball fans to read.  It sheds a bright light on both Eli Grba’s life and career and shows how he was able to beat those demons.  Both Eli and co-author Doug Williams have made this a great story to read and a book that many people will not be able to put down.  It is one of those books that people dealing with the same types of problems will be able to relate to and in the end be able to take something from it that will help them with their own struggles.

Take a look around on social media sites because you can get autographed copies direct from Eli Grba as well as getting it from the standard on-line retailers.

Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed, because the first angel has written a first rate book.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Babe’s Place-The Lives of Yankee Stadium


I am not a Yankee fan in any sense of the word, but I will acknowledge their achievements throughout history and the contributions they have made to both the game and its storied history.  The original Yankee Stadium was witness to many of the games greatest players and scores of historical moments.  With its closing a few years back, baseball lost one of its historical palaces, but I have found a book that chronicles its entire history and gives the stadium the true respect that it was due.

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By:Michael Wagner-2015

There have been a few books in the past that have made me go wow, but this one beats them all.  Author Michael Wagner starts from the stadium’s original construction and provides all sorts of details about building a stadium in the 20’s.  It covers stories about building delays, internal political struggles, how many bricks that were used and monetary costs to build the palace.  I am using that brick number to dazzle my friends when we start asking each other obscure baseball trivia.  It obviously does cover the great moments that happened there during its original incarnation and gives the reader a good feel of what the stadium was like during that early era of baseball.

Next the book takes another in-depth look at the remodeling of the stadium in the mid 1970’s.  The deconstruction and remodeling details are plentiful in this book and gives an inside look at what really went on behind the scenes during this remodeling phase.  Many of these things you will find hard to believe when you hear the  lengths they went to preserving its original heritage.  This portion of the book also covers the great moments that happened at Yankee Stadium during this second phase of its life.  This is the phase many of us are most familiar with so it was nice to relive some of those memories.

This book provides an enormous array of pictures.  From the original building of the stadium to its remodeling.  Many are from the authors private collection, and they are a unique insight to the process and how large of an undertaking it was to remodel this stadium.

Finally, one aspect I found interesting was the personal correspondence of the author attempting to get memories from those who played there.  He had success to varying degrees, but it was a fun way to see what players thought about the old girl during her prime.

It doesn’t matter if you are a New York Yankee fan or not this is a book worth checking out.  The original Yankee Stadium has given way to progress, but I personally think it should have remained and been revered in such ways that Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are today.  Old Yankee Stadium had a large historical value and this book has done a wonderful job on preserving some of the details and memories for generations to come.

You can contact Author Michael Wagner directly via email for information on how to order this great book for all baseball fans.

yankeeswinws@yahoo.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

Two Very Similar Books That Leave Two Very Different Impressions


Most things in life are at the perspective of the person doing it.  Baseball offers many things that could be relative to the person witnessing the action, and you could have 100 people and get 100 different perspectives.  Today’s books offer essentially the same type of biography but the readers give two totally different outcomes from their authors.

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By:Richard Elliott-2016

Richard Elliott offers his biography of Clem Labine from a personal perspective.  Theirs was essentially a life long friendship that grew from hero worship as a child when Clem was still an active player, to a relationship as a trusted colleague when Clem was an instrumental member of the author’s family business.  It is an interesting transition between player and fan and adds a unique twist to the story.  It is not often you come across a story like this where the former player becomes almost a member of the family.

This book is very sentimental and has every right to be.  It is stories about the many interactions between player and young fan and how they formed an unlikely friendship. The book also allows the reader to see the fondness Elliott has for Labine still to this day, and the emotion of the author comes through strongly.  If you are looking for an in-depth bio on Labine’s career, then this one comes in a little light, but in all truth it is an enjoyable story on a personal level that really carries its own weight and worth the read.

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By:Tom Molito-2016

The next book also attempts to do the same.  Tom Molito was a die hard Mickey Mantle fan growing up and as he aged his business dealings allowed him to get close to Mantle on a personal level.  This one has the same hero adulation that the Clem Labine book does, but it also is from the perspective of a businessman.  It shows the struggle between childhood memories and hero worship, and the dark realities of an alcoholic and former hero you are trying to work with.

It gives a very interesting look into the life of Mickey Mantle during his final years and the daily struggles Mickey had with his own demons and those that his handlers had in up keeping his public persona.  The author has done a great job of being honest with the struggles he had dealing with the childhood memories and the stark truth that stared him in the face.  Fortunately for the author, there was some good memories that came from his dealings with The Mick, so all was not lost.

Both of these books offer good things for the reader.  Labine’s book I believe was intended to be just what it was, a tribute to a dear friend and since Labine’s death  it may have been a way to write the final chapter on their friendship.  The Mickey Mantle book on the other hand offers a direct look at the bleak reality of what Mickey Mantle really was near the end of his life.  I don’t think it was in any way intended to be a smear book and the authors tone throughout the book solidifies my opinion on that.   It is just one book had an easier subject to work with than the other.

Check out both books, because they are both short easy reads and give unique perspectives on both subjects.  Labine is a hard subject to find books on and this is one of the few I have found available.  Also, when was the last time you read a new and different story about Mickey Mantle, for most of us I bet it has been awhile.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

McFarland-Never Ones to Shy Away from Obscurity


In baseball book circles every publisher has their own certain niche.  Whether it is historical volumes, biographies, complete seasons or any of the other countless things you could document within the game.  McFarland has always been a staunch supporter of the sport and released various books about our beloved game.  The one thing that has always struck me interesting about McFarland is how they don’t shy away from the obscure subjects like other publishers would.  It adds new facets to the readers library and makes sure we do not forget what the game has evolved from and the great and not so great names that helped bring it there.  They have a few new ones out that I figured I would share, because they are subjects that we as readers are sometimes hard pressed to find books on.

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By: William A. Cook-2016

Johnny Temple was a household name in Cincinnati during his playing days.  Get outside of Ohio and the spotlight tends to fade on Temple’s fairly solid playing career.  Cook takes the reader on a journey through Temple’s struggles that he had to overcome to be welcomed into professional baseball.  He introduces the reader to his fierce competitive streak that endeared him to local fans, but quite honestly to the rest of the world made him look like a miserable SOB.  The author shows the reader his entire playing career with stops in various cities throughout the league.  He was a solid player who was probably a bit underrated in the end, but that was probably due to the fact that he may have been his own worst enemy both on and off the field.

Finally this book takes a look at Johnny Temple’s life after baseball and the struggles that followed.  Troubled by serious financial and legal problems, Temple lived a life of obscurity and carried a heavy burden that followed him until his dying days.  The author does not delve very far into Temple’s legal problems but enough to peak the readers interest and realize these problems were probably of his own making.  Check out this book if you want a real good feel of what the Reds had at Second Base during the 50’s.

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I have read work from these authors before and expected nothing less than what you get with this book.  George Weiss was part of the Yankees front office during the Golden Years.  He is also not remembered very fondly by former players and members of the team.  There are many adjectives that have been used to describe him by former players and most were not very flattering.  This book takes a look at Weiss’ business acumen and how it was applied to building the powerhouse that the New York Yankees became.

It is an interesting look at the business angle of a team that everyone is familiar with and it’s one that not many people take the time to analyze.  This is an often overlooked subject with the Yankees of this era and now that we see what a major business powerhouse the game of baseball has become, it shows what differences the business dealings had during that era.  This book offers a unique perspective of the Yankees to the readers and should not be missed if you want to complete your education of the New York powerhouse.

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By:Jorge Iber-2016

Our final book of the day forces me to ask the question, where do you draw the line of who to write about and publish?  Is it the author’s personal preference or is it just one of those things keep going until you find someone willing to publish it.  Mike Torrez had a serviceable career and was witness to a few interesting events during his time on the mound, but will never be confused with the second coming of Cy Young.  All of the above being said this book did make me pose the question as to why, but there have been lots of other books published for less deserving candidates.

This book attempts to tackle two issues in one step.  Torrez’s life and career are addressed like most biographies attempt to do, but it also attempts to analyze his Hispanic heritage and the social impacts that may have had on his career.  Now both of these things would make great books in their own right, but when you try and squeeze them both into one book, you don’t give enough time to either subject.  Overall it is a pretty good book, but if you split the subject into two volumes you could probably have two better books.  If you are a Mike Torrez fan and looking for a baseball book, you should still check this one out.  70% of the book is still baseball and career related and would hold the readers interest.

Take the time to check out the McFarland website, because they have countless other books on baseball available and quite honestly will have something for everyone.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

Strangers in the Bronx-The Changing of the Yankee Guard


I hate to admit it, but I always enjoy a good book about the Yankees.  The Phillies fan in me has a hard time justifying spending the money on purchasing one, much less enjoying a book about the evil empire.  In the past there have been many avenues taken to relay the stories about the fabled team from the Bronx, but as of late it seems we keep taking the same walk around the same block.  I would like to say today’s book would take us on a different tour, but I am sad to say we have been down this road many times.

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By:Andrew O’Toole-2015

Andrew O’Toole has taken the reader on an adventure with the New York Yankees during a time of transition.  A time when the one of the teams greatest stars was fading and its next one was on the rise.  It shows a time when the Yankees were full of uncertainty but about to embark on a sustained period of success that may never be rivaled.  Say what you will about the Yankees, they have a history that is hard to top.

The book shows what the 1951 season was like for the New York Yankees.  Di Maggio’s last season in pinstripes was not one of his greatest, but he earned the respect he demanded from the masses and his teammates and finished out the season and his career like only Joe DiMaggio could.  Waiting in the wings was Mickey Mantle the young mid westerner who was on his way to fame and stardom and did not even realize what was awaiting him.  Its a tale of two outsiders that came to New York and took a bite out of the big apple.

The downside to New York Yankees books is the fact that no matter what the subject matter is, it gets beat to death.  We have several different authors attack the very same subject and for the most part attain the same results in the end.  If I stop and take a look at my personal library, there are an insane number of books about Mickey Mantle and Joe Di Maggio.  It makes it hard to figure out what is the real truth on either of them.

As far as the 1951 season goes we have seen a few books from different authors.  While they attempt to each provide their own spin on the events of that year, unfortunately, it is impossible to.  This is in no way a reflection on this book’s author, it is just the reality that this book falls into a very crowded playing field.  It reminds me of the old politician saying that we may be saying the same thing, but you haven’t heard me say it yet.

While each of these books offers essentially the same thing, each writer has a different style that may appeal to different readers.  So choose wisely, or if you are familiar with that authors previous work and enjoyed it, stick with that version.  I was hoping we could get to the point where some authors would find something different and give us some new revelations, but I think that ship may have finally sailed.

If this book is one that might capture your interest on the 1951 season, you can get it from the nice folks at Triumph Books.

Strangers in the Bronx

Happy Reading

Gregg

When Shea Was Home


Baseball stadiums are a funny business.  In the last few years we have opened the remainder of the publicly funded monsters that are basically welfare projects for the mega rich owners. Convincing the fan base that it is a good idea to fund the building of these monsters through tax dollars, all in the name of civic pride.  Everyone that has wanted a new stadium has gotten one in the last 25 years, we are even starting to see some of these stadiums become outdated and cries for replacements are starting.  These stadiums are all one dimensional and other uses of these parks is very limited.  It makes one look back and see how useful the last generation of stadiums truly were.  Baseball, Football, Concerts, Monster Truck Rallies or almost anything you could imagine would happen there.   In today’s game almost everyone has their individual dedicated to one type of event stadium. But what about that one glorious year when one stadium housed two Baseball teams and two Football teams.  Rarely a day went by when something wasn’t going on.  Today’s book looks at that one unique and busy year.

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By Brett Topel-2016

Shea Stadium was the lucky recipient of all this attention in 1975.  The obvious home of the New York Mets, but also temporary home to the New York Yankees during the remodeling of Yankee Stadium.  It also housed the New York Giants and the Jets while construction of the Meadowlands was  wrapping up.  It made for scheduling nightmares and helped create an atmosphere within Shea that was hard to beat.

Brett Topel’s new book takes a look at that busy season and gives a solid background on each of the teams that called Shea home.  He shows the reader how each of the tenants agreements came to be with the city owned stadium and how the legalities of it all threw a few wrenches into the works.

Topel, through interviews with the men who were on the field in 1975 explain what the vibe was like that year.  How the Yankees felt playing on enemy territory across town from their beloved stadium and having to call Shea home.  It had to be a very interesting mind set for the players since the dimensions were so different between the two stadiums.  It also shows how the transplant to Shea Stadium effected the Yankees fans and their attendance.

The book covers both the Baseball and Football teams that called Shea stadium home in 1975, but it is much more centered on the baseball side of the stadium activities.  More than likely because in a given year with two teams calling Shea home you would have 162 baseball games that would be considered home games versus the 16 home games for Football on Sundays.  It shows how utilitarian these multi purpose stadiums really were.  They were treated like a jack of all trades, instead of todays specialized delicate little flowers that are sparingly used for only one activity.  I find it amazing that these new sport palaces are starting to have a shorter life span than the older and more widely used multi purpose stadiums.

If you are a fan of New York sports you should check this one out.  It shows a very unique situation in an interesting time period of sports league growth.  A situation like this we will never see again and for good reason.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing

When Shea Was Home

Happy Reading

Gregg