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.
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
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.
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
I will be the first to admit, when I see a great player out on the field I don’t give much thought as to what it took to get him there. Obviously the player had to dedicate himself to the game, hone his skills and pay his dues in the minor leagues, but what about on the organization’s side of the ball. How much time was dedicated to looking at this player and assessing if he had the skills to be a major leaguer. How much time was dedicated to teaching this player the correct way to play the game and help him progress in his career. All these things we don’t think about, but then I have to ask the question, who are the people who help make these decisions and find the talent out in the world? Today’s book is one of those that showcases a man who has dedicated his life to finding these diamonds in the rough.
When I started this book I was not sure I was going to get anything of any substance. I was thinking what could a scout tell me that I would find interesting about Major League Baseball. I thought it was going to be tales about driving through cornfields and dust storms to find the next big prospect, for kids that usually didn’t pan out anyway. I am very happy to say, boy was I wrong!
Art Stewart has dedicated his life to finding the next great thing for the game of baseball. A career that included a stint for the New York Yankees, Art is best known for his great work helping build the Kansas City Royals basically from the ground up. The author tells us stories of efforts to build a farm system for the franchise that will reap benefits at the major league level for years to come. Stories of beating the bushes trying to find the next great one and tireless effort put in to each prospect to find the right fit for his team. Through hard work, a loving wife and a great owners in Kansas City it has allowed Art Stewart to excel in his field and have an illustrious career.
This book is very enjoyable because it allows you to see what really goes into scouting of players. The analysis and skill assessment that each player must be evaluated with and the pride that comes along with each players success is showcased for the reader. It really is more than just going to a game and waiting for the players to show something remarkable. There are always hidden talents out there waiting to be discovered. The Art of Scouting has really changed my perspective on how I view a scouts role within the game, and I now see what a vital part they are to any organization.
Any baseball fan should enjoy this book. It shows you what goes on behind the scenes of any organization and what a vital role they have within any team. The scouts are an under-appreciated group that should really get some more recognition for their contributions to the game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Ascend Books
Well the move is over, and as I live among the piles of boxes awaiting unpacking and finding new homes, I figured now was as good a time as any to post a new blog. A majority of the books aren’t unpacked yet, but in due time they will adorn the shelves again. For those of you familiar with me, my love for the Phillies has been well documented, so I figured let’s get back in the saddle with a Phillies book today.
When you have been in existence for over 130 years and had limited success in that time frame as the Phillies have had, your great moments are few and far between. You have limited happy stories to draw from and a few miserable failures that stick in the fans crawl for a long, long time. If you are familiar with the Phillies you know these stories all to well. The Championships, the Pennants and of course 1964.
Robert Gordon has compiled these familiar highs and lows in his book and presented them to the Phillies fans. He has intertwined interviews with former players, coaches and people associated with the team at the appropriate time. They are thorough interviews that give an added perspective beyond the authors, and enhance the story itself. The facts are well presented for fans of the Phillies to appreciate their inglorious history at most times.
Here is my problem with this book. If you are a dedicated Phillies fan, you already know these stories by heart. You have lived and died by these stories your entire life and they have become part of your Phillies soul. For Phillies fans there are already countless books out there hashing through these anecdotes, so except for the personal interviews, you are not getting too much new information. By far, this is not a bad book. It is well written, accurate and entertaining. Just for my personal taste I was hoping for something new. If you are not familiar with Phillies history and want to learn more about them, this would be a great book for you. If you are familiar with the team and hoping for some new stories or inside dirt, you may be disappointed.
Check it out and see what you think, maybe I am just in too deep with my love for the Phillies, that it makes it difficult for me after a while to go down the same road over and over again.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books