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

The Game – Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers


Baseball is in the midst of a Golden Age.  It is hard to deny they are raking on unprecedented money, getting tremendous amounts of exposure and attracting new fans from all around the world.  Now …

Source: The Game – Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers

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

 

 

The Eighth Wonder of the World-The Life of Houston’s Iconic Astrodome


Like it or not, wherever your favorite team plays is an integral part of the game experience. From unique dimensions, playing surfaces and the elements, these things can all add or detract from the overall experience.  With the birth of so many new venues over the last 25 years, the fan experience has been dramatically improved.  For the most part the previous generation of stadiums lacked ingenuity or any sort of bling and at the bare minimum left something to be desired for the fans.  The only fun part of them was the nicknames that were bestowed to several of them such as concrete doughnut and my personal favorite…..the Toilet. There was one stadium that stood out among all of these circular disappointments and stood above all the rest, The Houston Astrodome.  Its amenities were well ahead of the times and served the fans of Houston well for several decades.  Now there is a book that celebrates the creation of the iconic stadium and shows all the work that went into building the eighth wonder of the world.

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By:Robert Trumpbour & Kenneth Womack-2016

I have always looked at the Astrodome as a baseball stadium.  Never giving much thought to the other uses for this multi-purpose marvel.  First, this book takes a look at the political wrangling that it took for the city of Houston to procure a Major League team as well as some of  the promises it was required to make as part of that deal.  It shows the tireless efforts of several key figures in Houston and the many failed previous efforts of the town.  It paints a vivid picture of how much time and effort goes in to just getting a promise of a team.

The book also goes into great detail about the political obstacles the new stadium faced in Houston as well as all the engineering hurdles that had to be cleared to create something of this magnitude.  It goes into great depth to explain how the stadium was physically built to withstand the elements and how it has been able to withstand the test of time.  The authors also show the readers all of the unique attributes that were built into the stadium and you can see how forward thinking those involved with its construction truly were.

The book also addresses the many uses the Astrodome had.  From concerts, rodeos, football and countless other uses, it really lent itself to being a jack of all trades.  Like all stadiums of this era, it was a living, breathing and evolving building and changed with the needs of the times.  Finally, it does take a harsh look at the aging of the dome and how it fell victim of the current times.  In the end, the once grand palace of baseball became just another decrepit old stadium.  A stadium that no one is sure what to do with and probably at some point, like all the one time greats, will meet its demise.

The book is very comprehensive and shows those not living in Texas what the Astrodome was truly about.  It also gives a nice glimpse at Texas politics and how that works as well as the way the people of Houston have helped change their self image with the help of the dome.

While this is not a baseball only book, it still has a large chunk of Colt 45’s/Astros information.  If you have interest in old stadiums this book covers it from its beginnings to its possible near end.  It has lots of information readers will find informative and entertaining,  If like me, you were never lucky enough to visit the Astrodome, this book will surely make you wish you had.

You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

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Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Rowman & Littlefield Knocking ’em Out for Baseball Fans


In prior posts we have taken a look at book publishers that dedicate some of their new releases to baseball books.  Baseball is easiest the most popular of the four major sports in regards to books and fans always come through and support the good books.  Rowman & Littlefield is no stranger to the baseball book realm and through the years have produced some great books for the fans enjoyment.  With the pending long, hard winter staring us all in the face I figured now would be a good time to showcase some of R&L’s offering from this past season.  They have a wide array of topics and they are sure to have something for almost every fan longing for baseball.

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By:Hal Bock-2016

This book could not have picked a better year to be published.  Having the good fortune to capitalize on the Chicago Cubs breaking the curse that has hampered them for decades.  Noted Historian Hal Bock takes a look at the last Cubs dynasty, you remember that one that came before World War I.  It looks at the powerhouse teams the Cubs were able to produce and how they were one of the most feared teams of their time.  It showcases a colorful cast of characters that called Chicago home and how they were central to the team’s success.  It also provides some rare photos and takes the reader back to a time before the Cubs were the lovable losers.

If anyone really enjoyed this years World Series victory, then they should check this book out.  It transports the reader to a time when World Series victories were the norm for the Cubs, not some sort of a once in a lifetime moment.  A very enjoyable walk down memory lane that is well worth the time reading it.

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By:John A. Wood-2016

Baseball during its history, has been full of characters to say the least.  You could almost classify this book into the good, the bad and the ugly.  Just for good measure you could throw in the sad as well.  It takes a look at players lives outside of the game during their careers as well as their lives after baseball.  The book sticks to legendary names of the game so it is a roster of players most fans are familiar with and possibly will shed some new light on some of their personalities.  It goes well beyond statistics and shows what these guys were like on a man to man level.

It shines a whole new light on the legends of the game and will help readers possibly understand why some of these players did what they did during their lives.  The book covers a wide array of stars and eras so there should be someone in here everybody will relate to, no matter whom your team allegiance lies with.

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By:Steven Elliott Tripp-2016

The past few years Ty Cobb has been as popular in the baseball book world as ever.  There are contradicting stories about his personality that have arisen over the past few years and has changed the ways in which people perceive Cobb.  No matter where you lie on the subject their is never going to be a definitive answer as to the man’s personality, but that will not stop the book world from trying.

The author takes a unique approach on this one and reviews Cobb’s personality from a rural Southern upbringing and the mentality of the times.  He compares it to the current day expectations of social behavior and shows the differences and transgressions.  Tripp also reviews Cobb’s place as a sports icon in Cultural, Social and Gender histories, both within the game and our country.  It is a unique approach on a man that passed more than a half century ago and sheds some interesting ideas on what Ty Cobb was all about.  Time marches on and so may be the ever changing legacy of Ty Cobb.

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By:Keith Craig-2016

A welcome addition to any fans library is this book.  It is a subject and player that in the past has been overlooked so there is not that much information out there about him.  It looks at Pennock’s stellar career for the pre-dynasty New York Yankees and the contributions he made to the game.  Pennock came within four outs of being the first Pitcher to throw a World Series No-Hitter.  In interviews with family and remaining friends of Pennock, the author paints a vivid picture of a great player and a well liked man.

The book also touches on his second career as General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.  It was his work that guided their farm system to new heights and levels of production.  This book was truly a welcomed learning experience for me and would add to any fans arsenal of baseball player knowledge.

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By:Sherman L. Jenkins-2016

Step aside Bo Jackson, Ted Strong Jr., was the original multi-sport superstar.  A player in both the Negro Leagues and a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, Strong could pretty much do it all.  He is a widely overlooked subject in today’s sports realm and this book is reversing that injustice.  This biography shows the readers the determination and sheer guts that drove this man to obtain his goals throughout his life.  Through interviews with family and friends this is another book that sheds light on an often overlooked subject and expands the fans knowledge base of the game.

This is another book that was a welcome learning experience and I think it is very important to remember those who hard work and dedication this game is built upon.  Fans of any league or sport for that matter,  will not be disappointed in this one.

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By:Rocco Constantino-2016

Someone sound the subjective alarm, we have reached that point in our book round-up.  These types of books are always of the subjective nature and that is not meant to say any of them are bad by design.  It is just to say that you are falling into the author’s idea of what constitutes a great moment within the game.  I may think one play is more important than another, but in essence it only matters what the author thinks.  These types of books are great for sparking debate among friends and may honestly generate some disputes that are never settled.  It is the design of these books to do this and perhaps to some degree their purpose as well.

Constantino’s book is well written, greatly detailed and he presents concise arguments as to why each of these moments should be considered one of the games 50 greatest ones.  These books are hard for me to review because I don’t always agree with the 50, but the do allow the opportunity to spark some great debates among friends………….so have at it !

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By:Bryan Soderholm-Difatte-2016

Obviously the most important event during the Golden Era was integration.  It changed the landscape of the game and to some degree society as well.  When you see these types of books about this era they are mainly focused on segregation.  While this one does give segregation its due a s a monumental event of the time it also discusses some other events that were taking place in the background of the game.  It was a time when baseball was at the forefront of American society and minor things like a change in the on field strategies, the use of a player/manager and the views of pinch hitters were all happening.  Relief pitchers were evolving, defensive strategies changed and it was all happening right in front of our eyes, the problem was no one was really noticing.

It is a different look at this era than we have seen before and really makes the reader sit up and take notice of what else transpired during one of the most, if not the most important era in the history of the game.

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By:Peter Bjarkman-2016

If you have an interest in Cuban baseball, then this is the book you need.  Bjarkman is the end all, be all authority on Cuban baseball.  He knows every inside story on every player in the country and understands the Cuban culture, which allows him to understand the mindset of the players.  He is the man ahead of the headlines and shares with his readers the back stories of the players that have come into the U.S over the past few years, how Cuban baseball factors into the lives of those who live in the country and how baseball has aided in helping the relations between Cuba and the U.S.

This is a very comprehensive work and Bjarkman is second to none on his knowledge of the Cuban game, their players and the proud society of Cuba.  If you want to learn about Cuban baseball, I will say it again, you need not look any farther than here.  Bjarkman has spent 20 plus years on this subject and it shows through in this body of work.

These great baseball titles and lots of others are available from Rowman & Littlefield

Check out their back catalog as well because there are lots of diverse subject on the baseball front there as well.

Happy Reading

Gregg