Tagged: Astros

The Time Has Come – The Bookcase is Moving


I am not sure how many people actually pay attention to my blog, which is fine , I understood that when I started this.  Why would people want to read what I think sometimes, in all honesty these blogs are just my opinions.  Anyway, my posts on here have been few and far between as of late, and maybe for some that may be a good thing that I have been quiet.  The reason behind the silence is that myself, my wife and three fairly ungrateful but still loveable cats are moving.  So the time has come for this.

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We are loading up the bookcase and moving to new digs over the next few days.  So internet access ability will be few and far between and time at a premium, and besides I have a crap-ton of books to pack up and move.  So for the next ten days or so Gregg (that’s me) will be among the missing until we get everything situated at the new place.

For those of you that have stopped by in the past year and checked out the blog, I thank you.  This site is a labor of love for me and nothing more.  So please be patient because in a few days we will be back rolling again.  Also, if anyone has sent me a book to review, please be patient, you will not be forgotten, maybe just delayed a little bit.

I know I am looking for the restoration of some sanity in my life, not living out of cardboard boxes anymore and having some time to start reading again.  So in the mean time, everyone keep reading and if you have any idea for books I should check out, drop me a line and let me know.

Be back soon and Happy Reading

Gregg,

and of course Brina, Phillie, Booger and Moose (All the innocent victims in moving all these books)

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

 

The Wizard of Waxahachie, Paul Richards and the End of Baseball as we knew it


Baseball is full of storied careers.  With the passage of time, some of the stories become bigger than life.  Some of those careers get clouded by the haze of nostalgia, or the feeling of what we used to have is better than today.  Todays book takes an honest look at a high-profile career and gave me a clear look at what really happened.

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The Wizard of Waxahachie

By:Warren Corbett – 2009 Southern Methodist University Press

Paul Richards mark on baseball is undeniable.  There are many things, by design or perhaps by accident, that have been attributed to him.  Pitch counts, five man pitching rotations, tracking on-base percentages, his fingerprints are all over baseball today.  What you don’t always see is the way the mind operated during his lifetime dedicated to the sport.

Warren Corbett wrote a book almost 25 years after Richards death.  Relying on family memories, notes and audio recordings that the family had provided, and has given a seldom seen side of Paul Richards.  He delves in to the devious side of Richards and his dealings with players and management during his illustrious career.  He also creates an accurate feeling that he was a hustler to many, both on the field and the golf course.

The most interesting aspect of this book to me is the trouble Paul Richards had bridging the generation gap.  When I say generation gap I am talking about the gap that was created near the end of his career in the dawn of free agency.  Richards had a lot of problems accepting the birth and subsequent power of the MLB Players Union.  It shows how after almost 50 years in baseball he was very set in his ways.

While after finding moderate success on and off the field in all his stops in baseball, Richards was a man of many friends and able to work the old boy network to his advantage and always find work.  That may be some of the reason he was not interested in adjusting to the new era of baseball.  The book is very heavy in detail about his time in Baltimore with the Orioles.  It was the longest stop of his career but still dominates about half of this book.  His stops in Houston, Atlanta, both stops in Chicago and finally Texas seem to be condensed versions to fit in the book.  I think a little more time could have been spent in Houston alone, due to the challenges of building a new franchise.

In the end Richards does not come out of the book looking like the genius he is regarded as today.  He seems almost human and to an extent skating through some of the stops in his career.  The end result of the book has shown us what I feel is a very fair and accurate portrait of Paul Richards.  Wayne Corbett did a great job on this biography especially since he was doing it almost 25 years after Richards death.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Southern Methodist University Press

http://www.tamupress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Houston Astros-Deep in the Heart


There are several teams within Major League Baseball that just get no respect.  Sometimes the reason may be their own ineptitude, financial shortcomings or even as simple as being a group of unlikable guys.  Teams that come to mind are the Miami Marlins, Washington Senators,  Philadelphia and K.C. Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros just to name a few out there.  They all have their place in history and it is not always negative.  The loyal fan bases that these teams maintain always hold out that glimmer of hope for next year and the fortunes that may come their way.  Todays book takes the time to celebrate one of those team that struggles to be respected.

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Houston Astros-Deep in the Heart

By:Bill Brown & Mike Acosta-Bright Sky Press 2013

The Houston Astros were born out of National League expansion in 1962.  Originally named the Colt 45’s, they started play with a bunch of over the hill and wet behind the ears players.  They spent more than a decade languishing near the bottom of the standings before reaping the fruits of their labor and becoming perennial contenders for the fans of Houston.  Unfortunately like most things in life, baseball standings come full circle and the Astros are rebuilding for the future once again.

Bill Brown and Mike Acosta have compiled a book that shows the pride the fans of the Astros have in their beloved team.  They show that you don’t always have to meet prettiest girl at the dance to find true love.  Like most teams that have a loyal following, the fans of Houston are proud of their team and its heritage no matter how they finish.

This book is really great.  It has 11 different chapters and breaks the 50 plus years of Houston baseball into each.  You learn about the stadiums the Astros have called home.  You learn about a variety of different players and off field personnel that have worn Houston’s colors proudly.  Finally you see the Astros high points on the field, most recently being the 2005 World Series.  One part of this book I though was interesting is that is it gives a glimpse into the future of the Astros, it shows rising stars they are hoping will propel the team to new heights.  I also found that I had no idea who has actually played for the Astros during their existence.  The Houston portion of some players career’s may have been short, but there were some big time names that hung their hat in Houston for a bit.

The pictures in this book are of great quality.  You get a chance to see some never before seen shots that make you feel like you were there.  I for some reason wish I had the chance to see a game at the Astrodome, but never did.  So I always like seeing old pictures of the eighth wonder of the world, and this book does not disappoint at all!

Astros fans will love this book.  Fans of team history as well.  Books like this always have a place in our bookcases.  They allow fans to go back and relive the memories they have and add that special nostalgic magic to it.  As we all know that nostalgic magic can make things seem better and more enjoyable than they really were, but sometimes we all need that in life.  Also when you order this book it arrives with a bag of baseball candy and a bag of Cracker Jack in the box.  What is more enjoyable or nostalgic in baseball than Cracker Jack????

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

http://www.brightskypress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Ball Four-The Final Pitch……..Again!


When you have a good thing that makes some money, you ride it out until it stops producing.  I get that economic principle to its fullest.  I also understand the book market has changed drastically over the last few decades, so if you have a product that works you just stick with it.  That is the one of the reasons why I see that the todays book has come out with yet another edition.

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Ball Four-The Final Pitch

By:Jim Bouton-2014 Turner Publishing

Jim Bouton has never been one to shy away from controversy.  From the day the first edition of Ball Four hit the book shelves Bouton has been a lightning rod for it.  From the first time the behind the scenes look at a baseball life revealed the skeletons in the baseball closet, people have talked about this book.  From sex to drugs to lifting the veil on our favorite baseball heroes this book has gotten some serious mileage in the sports and literary world.

Most if not all of the baseball reading world has read at least one edition of this book.  For me, one of the first baseball books I ever read was the second edition, Ball Four Plus Ball Five when I was about 13 years old.  For a teenage baseball fan this book was a shocker.  Most of Bouton’s career was before my time but it was still a real eye-opener.

What Bouton did was give a day by day no holds barred account of the baseball life.  It broke the cardinal player rule of what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.  Having an extended career with the famed New York Yankees and then subsequent time with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, Bouton had lots of material.  Lifting the curtain on what happened with the high-profile players on the Yankees was a major shock to the baseball world, and really pissed off a lot of people.

This book has been compared at time to Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season, published a decade prior to Ball Four But in all honesty, Brosnan’s book felt very sanitary compared to Bouton’s and still honored some of the locker room code of the day.  Both still have their place in your bookcase, but are very different animals.

The part I find most interesting about Ball Four is how every so often a new version is released.  Ball Four has more lives than an alley-cat.  Even if it is just a few new pages of material a new edition carrying a new subtitle is released. Sometimes it may just be a signed edition with a new cover that emerges to the retail bookshelves, but every decade or so it seems you can expect something new from Jim.  Ball Four-The Final Pitch is no exception.

The Final Pitch gives you five new pages of epilogue from Jim Bouton penned in April 2014.  He discusses his personal opinion on steroids and how to handle the players of the era and the issue of Hall of Fame induction.  Surprisingly, it is in line with my own personal views on the subject.  In the end it gave Jim a new spin on his 45-year-old book and garnered a place in my bookcase for the now 5th different version that I have of essentially the same book.  This is the only version I have of the book that is not signed by Jim, so I will have to get working to correct that.  I guess in theory,  this alley cat, if it truly has nine lives,  still has four more versions left to go so it will be interesting to see what the next edition brings to the table.

I think every baseball book collection needs at least one edition of this book in it.  Even today it is still an enjoyable book.  Partner that with this books historical significance and it should be on everyone’s book shelf.

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

http://www.turnerpublishing.com

Happy Reading

Gregg