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.
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
I have said in the past there are certain personalities that transcend the game itself. Usually they are players that fall into this category, mainly because of their own field exposure. There are always exceptions to that rule and easily Connie Mack is one of them. The Grand Old Man of Baseball is one of the patriarchs of the game and through all time is a name that will be known to all. A person who had an entirely different contribution to the game as Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, but still a name that is just as recognizable as many of the games greats. Norman L. Macht has recently completed his third installment of his Connie Mack trilogy and it completes in print the life of one of baseballs true pioneers.
Obviously I read a lot of books, but no series of books I have ever come across has made me go WOW!, like this one has. The first volume of this set was published in 2007 with subsequent volumes in 2012 and 2015 respectively. All three book take a look at a specific portion of Connie Mack’s life and the events that helped shape his life and career. These books show how he forged his personality and the steps he had taken to amass his baseball empire. Each book also shows the baseball dealings he conducted on a daily basis, how he constructed teams and eventually dismantled teams to pay the teams bills. Various financial struggles are addressed throughout the years, power struggles within team ownership and family infighting that eventually led to the final downfall and removal of the Athletics from Philadelphia.
Norman L. Macht has dedicated a good portion of his life to this project. Starting in 1985 the research he did was in depth and led him essentially to every location Connie Mack ever stepped foot. He spoke to as many people who were friends, colleagues or family of Connie Mack and got the inside scoop on what the man was really like. The amount of time and research that was dedicated to this project is just mind blowing to me. I can’t imagine dedicating three decades to one subject and then being able to narrow it down to only 2,000 pages of details for a publisher. Usually, most publishers would shy away from a multi volume biography anyway.
For me growing up in Philadelphia there were always a lot of stories floating around. From just having the local ties and being a fixture in the city itself to the part that my Grandfather put a roof on his house in the late 40’s, Connie Mack for me was always an intriguing figure. This book dispels a lot of the myth’s that I had accepted as fact about Mack. Through the stories you hear growing up in Philadelphia, many of them you just accept as fact and don’t dedicate the time to looking for the truth. He truly was one of the games great owners and we will never see another one like him. In reality how many owners have a rival team name their stadium after your team leaves town, as the Phillies did out of respect for Mack. The respect that people had for him was astounding, so much so that as of my last conversation with Bobby Shantz about a year or so ago, he still referrs to him as Mr. Mack, over 60 years after his death.
Baseball fans should really check these books out. They are a vast wealth of knowledge for the fans of a very popular subject of the game that has not had many books dedicated to him. Norman L. Macht should be commended, and rightly so, on a great job writing these three books and completing his 30 year journey to show fans the real Cornelius McGillicuddy.
You can get these books from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press