Tagged: American League

Sports Publishing Coming Through for Baseball Fans


We have seen in the last few posts how certain publishers focus on baseball fans and really provide a great selection for them.  As we head into the pending long, hard winter, I figured it is always a good idea to showcase a few more publishers that take care of the fans and get us to our awaited destination, the first pitch of Spring.  Sports publishing has long been a staple of baseball book publishers and offers a diverse catalog for fans.  They offer multiple sports, but for me it’s all baseball or bust.  Historical, team related, biographical, new release or not, there always is something that fans can find that will appeal to everyone.

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By:Rich Westcott-2014

While this is not a new release, it still is a great look at the most vital position on the field, the Pitcher.  By going through the entire history of baseball, Westcott gives the reader some of the most memorable feats performed by Pitchers.  Heroes of the game such as Waddell, Chesbro, Cy Young and Mathewson through modern day greats like Ryan, Seaver, Carlton, Maddux and Randy Johnson all get their due.  It is a nice mix of various pitching accomplishments that have help build the history of the game.  51 chapters covering one position is a lot of memorable feats for the reader, and also introduces them to some not so mainstream stories.  Check this book out if you want to expand your knowledge of the game’s history and see the value that the Pitcher has added to our great game.

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By: Shifrin & Shea-2016

Lets face it, the Home Run is one of the coolest aspects of the game.  It can change the entire momentum of a game, series or even a season.  There is a reason we keep so many Home Run records and why we still are arguing who is the real Home Run King.  There are easily more than 101 home runs that one can call to mind but this is one of those books that narrows it to a certain number.  The one thing the reader has to remember is that they will not always agree with the 101 that were picked.  So it offers some debate material for you and your friends to discuss over a few beers, but in the end, everyone’s list will be different.  The authors give a nice sampling of Homers and it allows the readers to re-live some of the greatest moments in the game’s history.  But in the end, someone, somewhere is going to disagree with at least 1/3 of the picks.  So keep an open mind going into this one.

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By:David Finoli-2016

There was a post in a Facebook group this week asking about this series of books.  It is a very interesting series that puts a unique spin on your favorite team.  The Pittsburgh Pirates book above is the latest in the series and offers you the worst players to wear certain uniform numbers, statistics and history base off the numbers as well as first home runs by certain numbers.  There are so many various things they offer related to the numbers that it is almost impossible not to enjoy these books.  If you are a fan of a certain team you will enjoy this series immensely.  Check out Sports Publishing’s web site for their other team offerings.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2016

We are all familiar with the Black Sox scandal of 1919 so no need to rehash it here.  I tend to shy away from the Joe Jackson books at this point because I am not really sure if I am going to get anything new from reading another one.  Well I am glad to say Hornbaker has given me a more complete picture of Joe Jackson than I ever had before.  He looks at his time prior to joining the Chicago White Sox and his career blossoming career in Cleveland.  It paints a much broader picture of the center focal point of the Black Sox scandal and an further understanding of the real Joe Jackson.  No matter what side of the scandal you sit on, this book is worth taking a look at.  It provides some new perspectives of all events of Jackson’s career and life.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2015

I wonder honestly if Ty Cobb gets more coverage now than he did while he was alive.  He also is a very tough market to write a book during the last few years.  Hornbaker’s book is another in a long line of recent Cobb themed books and like his Joe Jackson book provides a different perspective on the Hall of Famer.  As always it is up to the reader to decide what is fact and what is legend, but the author does an admirable job at presenting alternative truths about Cobb.  It is worth the time to read but in the end, the reader has to make the decision which one of the Cobb books presents the most truth.  After all the books, both fact and fiction,  that have addressed Cobb, it is going to be hard for readers to ever figure out what Cobb’s true story actually is.

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By:Rich Westcott-2016

Finally, we take a look at one of my hometown favorites.  This book covers more than just baseball and usually I don’t touch these book on here,(see my disclaimer above), but hey……….it’s Philly!  It takes a thorough look at Philadelphia and the Championships we have been lucky enough to celebrate through the years.  Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey are covered as well as showing the transition from a town built on Dynasties to a town laden in a Championship drought for so many years.  It events like these that helped shaped me as the sports fan I am today.  It also shows that the Philly fans may not be as bad as we are always portrayed.

Take the time to check the books out on Sports Publishing’s website.  They have these and many other great baseball books that are sure to please everyone.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

The Chalmers Race and the 1910 Batting Title


I have of late, spent a lot of time looking at books that go back over a century in baseball history.  Sometimes the books I have on hand steer the blog more than I ever do.  When you go back this far in history, it is a daunting task to try and answer some question. Record keeping was not even close to the standards that it is today, and the game as a whole created some questionable outcomes.  So I am not really sure how an author would even try and research something from this era and feel confident in the outcomes.  As a baseball community I think we have accepted as accurate what is in the record books but it is still open to some questions no matter who it is.  Rick Huhn has in the past written books from this era and has done an admirable job with the, so with today’s book I am expecting more of the same.

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By Rick Huhn-2014

For those not familiar with this story, auto magnate Hugh Chalmers offered a new Chalmers automobile to the winner of the 1910 batting championship.  By today’s standards a car is no big deal but by 1910 standards, cars were new fangled contraptions that were not commonplace.  So for the players involved this was a big deal.

The long in the short of it is that the race came down between Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie and Detroit’s Ty Cobb.  There was also some controversy about record keeping for both players at the time.  In the end, American League President Ban Johnson made the final decision and awarded the car to Ty Cobb.  Still surrounded in controversy to this day no one is sure who really one, but Cobb got the car.

Rick Huhn does a really good job of relaying to the reader the course of events of 1910. Individual game details, scoring decisions and events all paint a vivid picture for the reader.  He also details the aftermath of Ban Johnson’s decision and court depositions that show the mess that baseball was in during that time period.  It also gives the reader a real good idea of how fixed baseball was during that time period and how it could have been human error, judgement calls or just plains and simple, the fix was in for the car’s winner that caused this giant mess.

The passage of 100 years clouds some of the details, but the author does a nice job throughout the whole book giving the reader what is to believed to be the complete story.  It is something that we prior to this book did not have great clarification on. This book does that job very well and hopefully can lay to rest the true events of the 1910 season.

If you have an interest in this era check this book out.  It is another book that gives a good feel of what really was going on in baseball during this era.  It also is another book that clarifies some of the Ty Cobb myths.  That is not its main intention, but it is a good side effect.  You just need to be a fan of baseball history to enjoy this one,  it slows down a little bit at the mid point in the book, when it gets bogged down in the court proceedings.  But once you are through that it picks back up and completes its mission.

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

The Chalmers Race

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

The Great Baseball Revolt-The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League


If you look at baseball history as a whole, it encompasses a large amount of time. Thousands of people and events are all part of the greater story for thousands of reasons. Some of those events get lost to the passage of time, and rightly so.  Just because an event happened does not mean it had any significance to the history of the game itself, it was just the action within the game.  Some events have been suppressed from the history books, for selfish reasons by those involved.  Today’s book takes a look at one of those events and how they helped shape the game as it now known.

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By Robert Ross-2016

Robert Ross has done some heavy lifting with producing this book.  He takes a look at the 1890 Players League that was formed as a rival league to the existing National League.  It offered better salaries and player shares of ownership to play in the league.  This was in contrast to the business dealings of the National league already in existence.  It also allowed the Players League to outdraw the Nationals by the end of the season.  It is a valuable history lesson and shows the power the players have always had and what ownership would like to keep quiet.

This is truly one of the earliest player labor organization movements in the history of the game.  They organized, had some backers and on most fronts were a success.  While their success was for only one year, it shows the powers that the players held and what obstacles they could overcome if they worked together.  In the end it was the fact that National League owners inflated their attendance numbers and cooked their books to the point that it made the Players League look inept.  In the end that was the main downfall of the Players League.

After this failure the Owners held the upper hand for generations and the formation  of the Major League Baseball Players Association almost 75 years later was the first real inroad the players made toward leveling the field with Ownership.  This is where it would have been a benefit to former players to be students of the game.  If they realized they held the power and had banned together sooner, they could have realized better pay and individual rights sooner than they had.  This whole theory could have changed the way free agency came about and would have revolutionized the entire game sooner.

If you have any interest in the labor side of baseball, or rival league history  this book would be a good choice for you.  Yes it happened over a century ago, but it definitely is something that could have changed the direction labor relations took over the past 115 years.  This is one of those history lessons ownership to this day would like to under cover.  Because even today some of these principles could be used to the players benefit.

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

The Great Baseball Revolt

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Baseball Immortal Derek Jeter-A Career in Quotes


It would be a whole lot easier to figure out what hasn’t been said about Derek Jeter over the last twenty plus years.  Countless books have been written, articles printed and in New York the television coverage was never scarce.  Everyone has opinions of Jeter for better or worse, but it really is almost impossible to deny what he brought to the table day after day.  If you take away the fact that he played for the New York Yankees, he still would be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  With all that has been written about Derek Jeter, Danny Peary has taken a unique approach at looking at both the player on the field and the man behind the legend.

By: Danny Peary-2015

By: Danny Peary-2015

Not wanting to take the ordinary approach to celebrating Derek Jeter, Peary has assembled a compilation of his life and career in quotes.  Tidbits from everyone around him or having some sort of contact with Jeter, it produces a very unique story that is weaved sentence by sentence.  It gives a better result than that of a standard biography of the player, in the fact that in the end, you know so much more about the player and understand what makes him tick.  You can always learn a lot about a person by what those around him feel about him.

The author has pulled quotes from friends, family, other players, managers, scouts, writers, coaches, teachers, celebrities, fans and critics.  It wasn’t like he was trying to pull a select few people who would give the best quotes and allow him to paint a happy picture.  He pulled from every source available and created a tapestry that shows the complete picture of Derek Jeter.  The book is broken up into different chapter that lend a natural progression to Jeter’s life and career and help the reader follow a continuous timeline.

This is by-far the most unique approach I have come across on a book about a player.  I am not sure you would call it a biography, but I don’t think it necessarily fits well in other categories.  The approach is very refreshing and honestly enjoyable, because it allows the reader to see different information about a player that we all know so much about.  I am  not sure this approach would work for many other players.  The New York media has brought so much information forth about Jeter that it has helped create the marketing machine that is Derek Jeter in our society.

Danny Peary has done a great job with this.  It was unique and a much welcomed change in the player biography arena for me.  I really enjoyed it and think those who are not fans of the New York Yankees will even enjoy it.  The quotes keep it moving at a quick pace and present information about both the man and player without getting bogged down in cumbersome details.

Check out this book, I don’t think fans will be disappointed

Baseball Immortal Derek Jeter

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Tall Mexican – The Life of Hank Aguirre


Sometimes even the best of us get fooled.  While we try our hardest to know what we are getting ourselves into, sometimes the old bait and switch applies.  I try to have a general idea as to what I am going to read before I start a new book, but it once in a great while will be the exact opposite.  You can usually tell from the cover notes what a book is about, but then other times you are really not sure.  Today’s book is one that I feel was not quite what it was supposed to be.

By: Robert Coplay -1998

By: Robert Coplay -2000

This book was about the life of the Major League Pitcher Hank Aguirre.  A durable pitcher for his time, he put up some respectable numbers but nothing Hall of Fame worthy.  He also spent a great portion of his life after baseball dedicated to making the community around him a better place.  These are all very nice sentiments for a local hero but unfortunately for someone looking for a baseball book this one would be considered a swing and a miss.

The book does briefly touch on Hank’s baseball career in the majors as well as his upbringing in the Hispanic community.  It focuses largely on Hank’s post baseball career as a businessman and humanitarian.  It shows how he was instrumental in bringing decent jobs to the Hispanic community in Detroit during a period of economic death.  The details are great from a business standpoint and show the human side of this former baseball player.  You get a sense of great compassion for his employees and great civic pride Hank was known for.

If you’re looking for a good Baseball book this may not be the one for you.  It is light on the details of Hank’s career and very heavy on his involvement in the business and Hispanic community.  Over all it is a good book, it just misses the mark on being an actual baseball book.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Arte Publico Press

https://artepublicopress.com/product/the-tall-mexican-the-life-of-hank-aguirre-all-star-pitcher-businessman-humanitarian/

Happy Reading

Gregg

Harmon Killebrew – Ultimate Slugger


I find it fascinating that there are people who have played this game and despite their momentous accomplishments on the field can to some degree remain in the shadows.  Perhaps this is by design, but I find it hard to believe a player would want to avoid accolades.  Maybe it is the player being a victim of circumstances in playing for a team in a small market or he is just being a bright spot on some very bad teams.  Whatever the reasons may be one of the players that I felt may not have always gotten his due is Harmon Killebrew.  Playing for first the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins and finally the Kansas City Royals, Killebrew never really spent any great amount of time in a large market.  I think this plays into the premise for me that even though Killebrew earned his Hall of Fame status he never really got the notoriety he was due.  Today’s book takes a look at the gentle giant that lurked behind Killer Killebrew.

By: Steve Aschburner - 2012

By: Steve Aschburner – 2012

From normal American upbringings in Idaho, Harmon Killebrew was like every other kid in the post World War II era. A local hero with respect for his elders there was nothing bad that could be said about young Harmon.  This book follows the home town hero through his local rise to stardom and his trek to the big leagues.  It has countless interviews with some of the folks that crossed paths with Harmon and not a single person had anything negative to say about the slugger.  If they were friends in High School and have not seen him in 40 years everyone still considered him their friend.

Aschburner takes the reader through Killebrew’s journey, getting established in the majors and getting adjusted to his new locales.  He gives the reader a glimpse of the persona behind the player and how it didn’t matter who you were, Harmon Killebrew seemed to treat everyone just the same.  It shows the humble character of Harmon that was something that never changed his entire life.

I always find interesting in these books how a player deals with the downside of his own career.  It is inevitable and something every player in every generation will have to face.  Like everything else he did in life Harmon faces it with grace and dignity and moves to the next chapter of his life.  The author shows the reader how life after baseball can be hard on any player, even the Superstars. Money and health are two key real life issues that effected the post playing days for this Hall of Famer. It was a good look at the humanity involved in Harmon Killebrew.

Steve Aschburner did a real nice job with this book.  I honestly feel that after reading this book I have a better feel of who Harmon Killebrew the person was.  We are all familiar with the Hall of Fame player, who unfortunately played in a city that may have hampered us to getting to see his personality off the field.

I would recommend this book for all baseball fans.  It’s a nice, easy reading book and it offers the fact that you would be hard pressed to find anyone that anything bad to say about Harmon Killebrew.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books

Harmon Killebrew-Ultimate Slugger

Happy Reading

Gregg

They Call Me Oil Can – Baseball, Drugs and Life on the Edge


Even though baseball players are constantly in the public eye, it does not mean you always get one hundred percent of the details.  Almost every players image until recently was a product of their teams media relations department. They would work tirelessly to keep certain issues and events out of the public eye.  In the advent of our instant media society some of the demons escape long before anyone on the team knows anything about them.  Such is the tale of todays book.  Oil Can Boyd was a rising star but you never knew about all of the demons lurking inside his soul.

By: Dennis Oil Can Boyd - 2012

By: Dennis Oil Can Boyd – 2012

Dennis Boyd was a superstar not long into his career.  With a nickname like Oil Can, he was bound to be a fan favorite in Boston.  Underneath the smiling surface were demons that were gnawing away at the star pitcher and made his life difficult at the very least.  Being under the sports microscope that Boston is probably didn’t help Boyd’s problems and the end results were more than likely etched in stone long before anyone realized.

A product of the deep south, Dennis Boyd was a youngster when racism was rampant.  Events that occurred during his upbringing did a lot of damage in shaping the man he became.  You can see that many of these events effected the way he approached his own life and how he dealt with people, thus the outcomes that occurred during his career. These same feelings towards the world around him also show how it led him into a life of drugs that damaged his career and relationships with those close to him.

By far Dennis Boyd does not come out of this book looking like a villan or a victim.  He comes across as an honest caring man who just wants to be accepted for who he is.  Unfortunately, it is one of those circumstances in life that his surroundings have effected him so deeply that he used the only outlets he felt were available.   The book is his honest account of what he feels life has dealt him, and it seems he is not holding anything back.  After reading this book I think I have a better understanding of what makes Oil Can tick, and it seems he is a half decent guy that just had some bad breaks.  My personal view of him has improved through reading this book and I don’t think he is really the head case that the media had made him out to be.

Red Sox and Expos fans will love this book, just because of the team connection.  I think fans in general may like it as well because the book is very honest.  It does not pull any punches and Dennis Boyd becomes a better stronger man as the book progresses.  Even if you hated Oil Can it might be worth checking out because you perception of him may change by the end.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books

They Call Me Oil Can

Happy Reading

Gregg