It is a simple yet valid question, that I see pop up from time to time. Which players really deserve a book? What criteria have we set forth as a baseball community to answer this question? To date, I don’t think we have answered that question, and in my honest opinion it is one that probably should will be answered. Every player, coach, executive, umpire or whomever has a unique story to tell. It is up to you as the discernible reader to decide which stories have merit and which ones were better lost to the passage of time. With the help of a few unbiased reviews you can usually get a feel of what to pick up and which ones to leave alone, but there are still a ton of baseball books out there to choose from. For my money, I like the somewhat obscure players telling me about their experiences and sharing stories that may have never been told before. Today’s book is one of those types of books that takes a look at a life and career dedicated to baseball from someone who wasn’t a household name.
If you asked 100 baseball fans who Skip Lockwood was my guess is a majority of those asked would not be able to answer right away. That is okay though because baseball history is filled with those types of guys. It is no knock on them as individuals, it is just sometimes how baseball history goes. Lockwood will best be remembered as a serviceable journeyman closer that could eat innings and mop up when needed. He played on some horrible teams and unfortunately what positive things came from his own career got overshadowed by the bad teams he played on.
Skip walks the reader through his life in and out of baseball. You go through his childhood and see how he knew early own that baseball was his calling. You see all the preparation he did to achieve this dream and the countless hours spent perfecting the trade. Once the dream became reality and he was signed by a professional team, you see the struggles of honing his skills at the next level which led to an eventual position change and the making of a Pitcher. It is an honest look at the game at a minor league level during that era and shows the struggles a lot of guys faced.
Next up you see the game through Lockwood’s eyes at the Major League Level. Stops in Milwaukee, California, New York, Oakland and Boston paint a picture of the consummate professional always willing to work on the trade. While results may not always have been what was wanted or expected, it wasn’t from lack of trying.
One aspect of this book that I found very interesting was Lockwood’s recollection of every thought and action during certain times on the field. He gives such detail of exactly what was going through his head at that very moment. How the ball felt, how the sweat felt, what exactly his mind was thinking and more. Now I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I always find it fascinating when players have such vivid recollections as this. It really gives an interesting look at what it is like to be out there on the mound in given situations.
If you are looking for a book that gives the reader some new stories and an honest and detailed look at what goes through your mind when you are a Major League player when they are out on the field, then you should check this book out. It’s a nice easy read that sheds a different light on a player than what many of us are used to. It engages the reader on a different level and provides a great insight to the game in many different ways. So I ask again……….Who deserves a book? Many more people than you would originally think.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing
Happy Reading Gregg
For every baseball fan in the world, the journey starts somewhere. Is it something you found on your own, was it something that just called your name or was it something someone else taught you the things you needed to know to become a good fan? They say baseball brings families together and more often than not helps build a bond between fathers and sons. So where did your journey begin?
For me, everything I know about baseball stems from my Dad. I am a Phillies fan by birth, thanks to my Dad, I root for my hometown team, thanks to my Dad and I am not a fair weather, bandwagon fan, once again thanks to my Dad. I was raised with the notion that good or bad they are your team, and you stick by them no matter what.
My Dad was raised in an era of Philadelphia baseball that consisted of two teams, the Phillies and the Athletics. During his formative baseball years, neither team was very good but he stuck by his teams. When Philadelphia became the victim of baseball re-location, my Dad’s allegiance was given solely to the Phillies. From that point on in the mid 50’s the Phillies for the most part stunk. Except for a glimmer of hope here and there, as a fan you didn’t have much to get excited about. But as I was taught growing up, you stick by your team.
As I grew up, I was lucky enough to be one of the kids whose Dad took him to ball games. He traveled a lot for his job, but there was always time when he was home to fit in a baseball game at Veterans Stadium. It was there in Section 322 at the Vet that my education began. I was taught the intricacies of the game, who was a good player, who stunk and the reason why a pitchers duel was more fun to watch then a slug fest. It was an education that I didn’t realize I was getting at the time, but has proved useful thousands of times over in the days since. I am not even sure he realized he was being a teacher at the time, it was more just a conversation between Father and Son.
Hot summer nights at the Vet have been replaced with Citizens Bank Park, adult duties like jobs, a wife, bills, distance and illness have gotten in the way, but we will always have the memories of the Vet and our first base line seats. No matter what happens in life I realize you can never go back to your happiest place, but I can still push the buttons on those memories and re-play them whenever I want in my head. I kept all my ticket stubs from those games when we went together and whenever I stumble across that envelope of stubs in my drawer, it brings a smile to my face.
So, since it is Father’s Day I want to say Thanks Dad. You have made me the rabid Phillies fan that I am today. It is because of you, I live and die with this team. You taught me the integrity required to be a fan of a horrible team, and how not to give up even though they are 26 games below .500. You also taught me the value of a good baseball book and the broader point that you can always learn something from reading. It is these values that I hope to pass long to my kid someday, and hopefully I will teach them what they need to know about baseball and life, half as well as you taught me.
Veterans Stadium is long gone, but the legacy of me and my Dad at a baseball game on a hot summer night will live on with me forever. Happy Fathers Day Dad, I love you and we should probably take in a Phillies game real soon.
Whatever your chosen avenue of reading is, there are always books that are considered classics. Almost all baseball books do not fall into the category of great examples of classic American literature. Once in a great while you will find some baseball books that baseball fans will consider a must read. Ball Four and Veeck as in Wreck are two that come to mind for me that every fan should read. I am sure if you ask 100 different fans you will get 100 different answers as well. Nonetheless, there are some books that every fan should read, if for nothing more than the historical value they provide to the reader. Today’s book is one of those.
Originally published in 1976, Negro Baseball……Before Integration is a great history lesson. In the generation before the internet brought the world to our fingertips, this book brought us back to a long ago time and told us how it really was.
Written basically in a first person account, Effa Manley walks you through what transpired during the life of the entire league. It shows the ups and downs and the monumental moments that occurred throughout the league. You also got an idea of what the leagues overall general health was like and the way the league ultimately folded after the integration of Major League Baseball. It truly gives a first hand account of the league and what ultimately transpired.
This book is an important one in each fans library. It is a good account of what transpired in America in a totally different era, but is something that should never be lost to the ages. I have always said knowledge is power, and as fans it is our duty to learn as much as we can about the game. With that knowledge, it allows fans to keep the by-gone eras alive and well for future generations.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St Johann Press