Baseball is a game full of firsts. First pitch, first game, first out, first inning……the list is endless. But for us baseball book geeks (a badge I wear with honor by the way), that list of firsts also includes our first baseball book. For some people it starts in childhood when you get that first juvenile baseball book under your belt. For others its in adulthood after you settle down and figure out who you are. Then for the rest of us, its starts when you are 12 years old and stumble upon a book that you may not have been the target audience.
There has never been a shortage of biographies out there about Reggie Jackson. This one from 1984 I hold in higher esteem than all the others, mostly because it was my first. My first baseball book was a shear accident. My Dad, who I owe most of my fan dedication and knowledge to, bought me this book. From his Thursday night supermarket trip in 1985 he plucked it from the bargain bin at Pathmark and brought it home for me. Thus sending me on a literary journey lasting over 30 years so far.
I always liked Reggie Jackson because he was somewhat of a local hero. He grew up in the town five minutes away from the one I grew up in. He went to the local high school and at that time was the one superstar who came from our own backyard. So right off the bat the appeal was there about the book of our local guy made good.
Now this book has been out for over thirty years, is probably tame by today’s standards and more biographies about Reggie have come out in the subsequent decades. But for me, after countless other books, this book is the one. For all of my time on earth, this book about Reggie, this tattered copy especially, will hold a special place in my heart forever. It is the book that made me realize how many cool baseball books were out there. I may not have been the target audience of this book, but it did open my eyes to what baseball was really like. This book led me to baseball classics, such as Dynasty and Bums by Peter Golenbock. To books about Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Musial, Maris, DiMaggio and hundreds of others. Taking me to places in my own head, which for some was the only way imaginable to get there, allowing me to learn about the people and places that made baseball great.
I realize a lot of people say Ball Four was the book that brought them into the baseball world, and that it is the epitome of the baseball book. For my money I will stick with my copy of Reggie. Everybody has that one special baseball book they love for whatever reason they so chose. For me its not that popular tell-all baseball book by Jim Bouton that everyone loves to some degree. It is yet another tired rendition of how great Reggie Jackson was or is, depending on how you look at it and there is no other book out there I am willing to give it up for.
So take some time and pull out that old copy of the book that started it all for you. Spend some time with that old worn out friend and re-live what made baseball books so appealing to you, because you will never forget your first.
I have mentioned in the past, that through the passage of time some players lose their magic. Sometimes locale plays a factor, other times it may be a great player on a crappy team and then there are the times when a player gets overshadowed by his own teammates. Such is the case with today’s book, and its nice to see this player get some book time.
Willie Stargell spent his entire career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They won a couple of Championships during his time and became a powerhouse for the Iron City that was tough to beat. When people think of the Pirates, automatically Roberto Clemente is the first one they speak of. He gave up his life doing something for his fellow man in need, and created a legacy that stands the test of time. But what about Willie Stargell? He played many great seasons and sometimes gets forgotten in the shadows of Clemente’s legacy.
This book is not a new release but it is one of very few out there on the market about Willie Stargell. It takes a very nice look at Willie’s career with the Pirates as well as an in-depth look at Willie’s personal life. The personal side of Willie is something new for me. We all are familiar with the career but I always felt he may have been a fairly private person and that may have effected what we were able to know about him.
His untimely death in 2001 may also have played a part in not always getting the recognition he ultimately deserved. So this book does give him some of the praise he earned and is more thorough than the biography that was first published on Willie in the early 80’s.
Since Willie is a Hall of Famer, his appeal will transcend Pittsburgh. Fans from all over the world should enjoy this book. Its a look behind the curtain, if you will, of a man we honestly don’t know that much about. Dozens of books have been written about his teammate, and now almost 30 years later there is finally another one written about Willie. Check it out because I don’t think fans will be disappointed.
Baseball lifers are a tough breed. When you find one in this day and age, look at what they have witnessed. They have seen the game go from small wages and managements sole control to a strong players union and skyrocketing salaries. They have seen stadiums come and go, the passing of legends and friends as well as their game becoming a big business. On the flip side of all this, baseball lifers have the opportunity to share some great stories. Today’s book is no exception to the fact that there are lots of stories just waiting to be told.
This book is a re-issue of the book that first came out from another publisher in 2011. Eddie Robinson walks you through his baseball career, first as a player and then as a general manager in the major leagues. He has been witness to some great moments in baseball history from both sides of the fence. He also states that he has never worked a day in his life, because he has been lucky enough to be involved in the game he dearly loves.
Robinson takes you through his playing career, overcoming challenges to make his dreams come true and become a big league player. He was blessed enough played in an era with some of the games all-time greats and was able to have his career coincide with great moments in history. He had a respectable career that would make any mother proud, it was by far not Hall of Fame worthy, but he still achieved his dreams.
After his playing career ended, Robinson entered the business side of baseball. Most notably becoming general Manager for both the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves. He tells some great stories of happenings at each stop and again he got to witness some great things such as Hank Aaron’s 715th Home Run. If you could have a charmed life as a General Manager, this may just be it.
One thing I could not shake with this book the entire time I was reading it was Robinson’s attitude. While telling stories about his playing career, I almost got the feeling that Eddie thought he was much better than the world ever gave him credit for. Essentially he felt that he was slighted because of the era he played in because it contained so many great players. This vibe carried over into his General Managers days and for me it just put a negative feel to some parts of the book. By far this is not a bad book, I just felt uncomfortable as the stories progressed, mainly because Robinson always seemed to feel slighted in some way.
Fans regardless of the team allegiance will enjoy this book. It is a lot of stories from baseball’s golden age as well as stories from the years baseball underwent great changes. There are no earth shattering stories, just a basic autobiography from someone who has really enjoyed his multi-faceted life within the game of baseball.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
Baseball fans always remember their first time. No matter what city it was in or who it was with, it is something that lasts with you your entire life. Of course I am talking about a baseball game here and it is a special and memorable moment in every fans life. The question I have is, do you remember all the details of your first time at the ballpark? I know I don’t remember mine, but now there is a book that helps young fans enhance the experience of their first trip to the ballpark.
This book gives young fans the opportunity to put in writing all of their own experiences from the stadium as well as learn a few important facts about the game itself. These facts really cover the basics about the game and some terminology they are going to hear along the way, which will help avoid some of the confusion these new fans will encounter. It also allows these newly ordained fans the chance to write down details of the day, beyond just the game itself. Things like how did they get there, what are the vendors selling, what are the smells you are encountering etc. It really is a good book if you are a young first time fan and a little unsure of what to expect.
O’Malley and Vascellaro have done a really nice job with this book. It is something the young fan will enjoy completing while going to the park the first time. It is also something that someday that same fan when older, will look back through and cherish some of the memories contained within. It is published in journal style and comes complete with a sharpened pencil all ready to go. I will be honest, I appreciate the sharpened pencil because I have no idea if I even own a pencil sharpener at this point in life. Young fans could use this the first time or even the first few times they go to a game just to chronicle their varying experiences.
This book would also be helpful for parents that have no baseball knowledge and are being dragged to a game because their kids wanted to go. Parents and kids can learn together from this book and gain an appreciation for what they are looking at.
Baseball fans with younger kids who are learning about the game should check this one out. It gives a lot of vital information in a small package, that will enhance the overall experience of watching the game.
You can get this book direct from the authors
I will admit that I am not an easy person to impress. I can spot flaws in a lot of things, and usually it is about something that most people would never give a second thought to. Call me picky, difficult or any number of adjectives, you have to work pretty hard to make me go wow. I have looked at books from Insight Editions on this blog before, and they made me go wow. They now have another book out that is making me have the same reaction……..again!
The Baltimore Orioles were created from the charred remains of the St. Louis Browns for the 1954 season. A legacy left behind in St Louis of ineptness and failure, the Baltimore Orioles hoped that a new beginning would bring forth success and happier times. Welcomed by the fans of Baltimore, the Orioles embarked on a love affair with the city that has created remarkable memories and seen some pretty great players pass through that town.
Insight Editions has published a new book that marks the 60th anniversary of the Orioles coming to Baltimore. Author Jim Henneman walks you through the rich history that has been created in Baltimore along with some monumental moments in baseball history. It takes a journey starting in 1954 with manager Jimmy Dykes, and brings you to the present, visiting with superstars such as Brooks and Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and some other fellow named Ripken.
The book is broken into several era’s of Orioles history and shows what unfolded in each decade. From World Series triumphs, through the changing of the guard on the field at the end of each era, you get a complete look at the Orioles history in Baltimore. You also get some incredible pictures of Cal Ripken Jr’s breaking of Lou Gehrig’s record in 1996. How many of us, when we think of the Orioles reflect back on that moment? Through a couple of ball parks, a few generations of employees, players and a few thousand games, you get the complete picture of what the Orioles have accomplished in Baltimore, and also get a feel as to what they mean to the fans in Baltimore.
As with the other baseball team books that Insight Editions has produced, they have made this one a pop-up book for adults. By that I mean, they have included folders in the book with postcards of special moments in Orioles history, ticket stubs from World Series games, actual copies of letters from fans and a few other cool surprises. They really out-do themselves with these types of books and this one does not disappoint in any way.
Orioles fans should check this out to re-live some of the great moments in Baltimore Orioles history. Non-Orioles fans should also check it out because it gives a very valuable history lesson of the franchise that has produced some great players and even greater memories for us all.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Insight Editions
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.
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
and of course Brina, Phillie, Booger and Moose (All the innocent victims in moving all these books)
One of the beautiful things about baseball is it allows you to become a time traveler. You can pick any point in time over the last 150 years or so, and you will find a baseball book that will transport you there. World Series champions have always been a popular place for time travelers. You can pick your favorite team and move yourself back to a time when you were 7 years old, or even go to a point when you were not even alive. These books give you a chance to witness history, or possibly relive your youth. Baltimore Orioles now have a great point in time to travel to with today’s book.
Author Mark Millikin has fired up the time machine to transport the readers to the glorious year of 1966. That year, Baltimore came out on top of the world. The freshly reloaded Baltimore Orioles and their new star player Frank Robinson, were taking the town by storm. That addition of Robinson alone pushed the Orioles to the forefront of the American League. The very player that the Cincinnati Reds thought was past his prime and on the decline, gave the Orioles that extra spark they need to reach the top of baseball.
This book takes a very thorough look at the 1966 Orioles. Through interviews with former players, sportswriters and fans it shows how popular that team was in the city of Baltimore. The team that had a few future Hall of Famers on the roster, produced out on the field at a level that made the fans of Baltimore proud. Playing at a torrid pace all season long, they propelled themselves to the top of the standings and never really looked back.
Teams like this always hold a special place in the hearts of their fans. For whatever reasons each fan has, they are the team they always remember. It was Baltimore’s first major success with the Orioles since they arrived in 1954, and made the fans dedication to their team stronger and of course, worth it in the end. Frank Robinson really was that final piece the Orioles needed to reach immortality. While the Orioles reached the World Series in a few of the years beyond 1966, fans never will forget their first true love……the Orioles of 1966 that swept the Dodgers.
Orioles fans will love this book. The details are amazing and the stories are entertaining. Fans of all teams should enjoy it as well, because if you didn’t live through it first hand it becomes a great history lesson for those that missed it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St Johann Press