Tagged: baseball history

Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers-An Introduction to Baseball History

I tried to figure out the other day when I became a baseball fan.  Was it when I went to my first baseball game with my Dad at age 5, it was the 1977 National League Championship Series between the Phillies and the Dodgers?  Was it when I bought my first pack of baseball cards in 1978?  Was it the Sunday afternoons watching games on TV with my Dad when I was little? I honestly don’t know for sure but it is probably a combination of all of those things.  So if we use that general point in time I have been on this baseball journey for the better part of forty years, and learn something new about the history of the game almost every single day.  Which, leads to my next question, how did I start my learning process?  Honestly I have no idea, but I just checked out a book that gives a fun overview when starting your journey down the road of baseball history.

By: Matt Nadel-2014

By: Matt Nadel-2014

This book by Matt Nadel is a fun book that takes readers through the basic history of the game.  Bringing into play some of the great names to have played the game, such as Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as well as dropping in some of the finer points of the game.  It helps showcase important facts such as the winningest pitchers of all time, famous quotes, amazing games and the history of uniforms.  It really covers a little bit of everything for the novice fan and gives a nice overview of the finer points in the history of the game.

The even more amazing part is Matt Nadel is your average red blooded American kid, who……oh by the way has written his book at age 16.  Matt is the youngest baseball history pro blogger out there right now and honestly did a pretty awesome job at this book.  All this at an age that when I was 16, all I was worried about getting my driver’s license and chasing girls.  He has a blog on mlb.com so look around and you should be able to find it.  Hat’s off to Matt as he has done a nice job on this book.

If you are a novice fan this book will help a great deal in helping you acclimate to the history of the game.  Everyone needs a starting point on their journey through the game and this is a great starting point.  If you fancy yourself a highly knowledgeable baseball historian, unfortunately you may not get anything new out of this.  This book has earned its place among the baseball book world and brings some great value to the table for new fans.  Newbies should check this out, it is presented in a format that is fun and easy to comprehend.  Plus all of Matt’s book proceeds go to various baseball related charitable non-profit foundations.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books

Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers

Happy Reading


The Cooperstown Chronicles-Baseball’s Colorful Characters, Unusual Lives and Strange Demises

If you stop and think about how many people have graced the baseball diamond over the course of its history, the final number is staggering.  With demotions, trades, cup of coffee players and Hall of Fame players the number easily gets in to the tens of thousands if not more.  Now you figure in that bunch there has to be some pretty wacky personalities and few just plain old odd-ducks.  Thanks to Frank Russo, some of these interesting personalities will not be lost to the passage of time.


By:Frank Russo-2014

When I first looked at this book I expected it to be just about the Hall of Famers and those enshrined in Cooperstown.  But I was happily surprised when it offered the reader so much more.  It brings to life players that may get lost in the shuffle of today’s game.

Frank Russo, through tireless research has compiled a great collection of stories about players.  He shows their contributions to the game, and what oddball facts or achievements that made them so unique.  For some it may have been something on the field, while for some others it may have been the tragic circumstances in which they perished.

Russo, does go with some of the normal heavy hitters in the history of the game, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges are just a few of some of the luminaries featured here.  But I ask, where else might you find these kind of  stories about people such as Silver Flint, Ned Williamson and Bob Unglaub?  It is a nice mix of players that gives the reader stories about the famous to the obscure and everything in between.

I personally like books like these that don’t focus on just the famous players.  The obscure players offer most modern fans a history lesson.  The book you are reading at the time may not give you a whole synopsis of their careers, but at least in me, it ignites a spark that makes me want to learn more about that player and see what they were about.  By bringing up these forgotten names, the reader gets an inadvertent history lesson as well as an entertaining story.

Russo’s work should be commended with this book.  His research efforts shine through strongly and every fan can probably learn something new from what is contained within this book.  All baseball fans should enjoy it, because it really has something for everyone, no matter what generation of baseball you enjoy most.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield


Happy Reading


Handy Andy – The Andy Pafko Story

Baseball history is full of unique stories.  Not every player had a Hall of Fame career, while others were the tops of their field.  Thousands of players fall into the middle points of this realm, but every one of them has a unique story that sometimes gets forgotten.  Part of the fun of being a student of baseball history is the opportunity to learn about each players individual story.  Sometimes players fall through the cracks of history because each year new people are added to team rosters and add to the history of the game.  Today’s book takes a look at the story of another player who deserves not to be forgotten due to the passage of time.

download (1)

By:Joe Niese-Chippewa River Press 2015

Andy Pafko, by all accounts had a very nice career.  With stints on the North side of Chicago, Brooklyn and Milwaukee, he got to witness some great history as well as the chances to win a few rings.  Solid on the field, putting up very good numbers by that day’s standards, Pafko was a quality player that may not have gotten the true recognition that he deserved.

Joe Niese has written an interesting book that goes to great lengths to show the true man.  He takes an in-depth look at both the professional and personal sides of Andy Pafko.  You not only see his professionalism on the field, you also learn what a quality person he was off the field as well.  A dedicated family man, Andy Pafko comes across as having his priorities straight in life and never losing sight of what was important to him.  He has proven that hard work and love of family both are rewarding in the end.  Niese gives the readers insight on Andy Pafko’s hopes, dreams and personal triumphs that help shape the man in the end.

The part I found most interesting about this book is the passion that author Joe Niese seems to have in telling the story of Andy Pafko.  It is a caring and interesting story that Niese helps tell in a way that truly captures the essence of the man himself.  This book is so much more than just a standard biography of a player.  It is really a biography of a great guy who just happened to be a baseball player.  You learn a lot about Andy Pafko in this book, and it is also a great lesson for the baseball fan, that sometimes the quiet man on the field has the most interesting story to tell.

You can get this book direct from the author at http://www.joeniese.com

Happy Reading





Summer of 68 – The Season That Changed Baseball and America Forever

It seems like throughout baseball history, each decade has had one season that stands out more than the others.  Dynasties come and go, Superstars rise and fall and our country follows along as well.  The 1960’s were by far one of the most turbulent times in modern American history.  The world was a changing place, and baseball never one to be far behind society, was changing as well.  Today’s book takes a look at one of those turbulent years in both society and baseball.


By:Tim Wendel-2012 DaCapo Press


1968 has been coined as the year of the pitcher.  Miniscule ERA’s and lower batting averages produced rule changes that have withstood to modern times.  America was a changing place as well, so it was no surprise that the national pastime was part of the changes.  What transpired in the summer of 1968 was the end of an era in baseball and ushered in changes that would help shape the future of our game.

Tim Wendel has written another winner with Summer of 68.  The book starts by taking an overall look at the state of baseball in 1968.  Starting out in spring training you see what shape the game was in and get a good feeling of where it was heading that year.  The overall main focus of the book though is the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers.  These two teams would eventually meet in the World Series that year.  You get an in-depth look at both teams.  Who they were, how the functioned and how the both were great successes on the field that year.

Intertwined in the journey of a baseball season the author shows how the societal landscape of the United States was changing.  You see how the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. effected the country and both of the baseball teams as well.  The reader is shown how the home cities these teams were part of, were turned into war zones.  You can feel the frustration of a generation coming out in the summer of 1968.  The book gives a very good look at a bygone era and what transpired in our country to change the world that we live in today.  It is a nice balance between baseball and society.  The book is of course heavier handed in the baseball subject, but still gives you enough of the outside world to see how it effected the players within the game.

Tim Wendel did a very nice job with this book.  If you were not able to witness 1968 first hand, it gives you not only a history lesson, but also a feel for what the world was like back then.  You get to see the ups and downs that have shaped our world and made both our country and sport the greatest in the world.  Baseball fans will enjoy this one, no matter what team you choose to root for.


You can get this book from the nice folks at DaCapo Press


Happy Reading


Before the Machine – The Story of the 1961 Reds

Being New Years Day, one tends to look back at the past.  Sometimes it is the past year one reflects on, and for others you may want to reflect back on something over 50 years ago.  In baseball history we have many seasons we get the chance to reflect on and honestly, I think that there are so many it makes it hard to choose.  Todays book takes a look at one of those spectacular seasons for a team that is almost forgotten due to the success of their team in subsequent years.


Before the Machine-The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Cincinnati Reds

By:Mark Schmetzer – 2011 Clerisy Press

The 1961 Reds on paper looked to be nothing spectacular.  A mix of aging veterans and young up and comers were not expected to make any real noise on the field.  Playing in an antiquated ball park and dealing with the death of their owner just days before the start of the season, things were not looking great for the team.  But little did the fans of Cincinnati and the world of baseball know, this was going to be their year.

Mark Schmetzer takes readers on a journey through that great 1961 season.  You see it from beginning to end, starting with the off-season and spring training,  you see the pieces assembled that made up this team.  Players that were brought in to fill holes became vital pieces in the success on the field.  The book also takes you through each month of the season, showing the highs and lows of a grueling seven month season.  Player injuries, slumps, and hot streaks are all contained in the book. It gives you a great look at team struggles and chemistry, that add up to make a successful team.  There are tons of never before seen pictures in this book that add to the feeling that you are witnessing this team at a level higher than just a book.   You also get to re-live the disappointment of the 1961 World Series at the hands of the New York Yankees.  While it may not be a great event that their fans want to re-live, it gives a very comprehensive account of events on the field.

I often have felt this team gets overlooked in the annals of history.  Primarily because of the multi-year success of the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine.  When people think of the Reds success they automatically gravitate towards the teams of the Big Red Machine.  Perhaps because it was their first year of success in such a long period of time, but it does seem that sometimes they just are plain old forgotten.  The author has done a great job of making sure this team never gets forgotten.

All fans should enjoy this book.  It does a nice job of covering the history of the team and that magical season in Cincinnati. Also, books like this are important because they make sure certain teams and pieces of history, do not fall through the cracks of time.  It makes sure these teams are remembered for all future generations of fans to appreciate and enjoy.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Clerisy Press


Happy Reading


Crosley Field – The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark

Baseball history is all about the people, places and things.  People make the history, the places add to the charm of the moment and the things, well………things happen!  As fans, sometime we get the feeling we were born too late.  We can find an era of baseball that really appeals to our inner fan.  For some lucky fans their moment is in the present and for others it can be 100 years before they were born.  Today’s book gives those fans the opportunity to live in those moments that they missed.


Cincinnati’s Crosley Field – The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark

By:Greg Rhodes & John Erardi-2009 Clerisy Press

When you are a fan of a particular team, the stadium almost becomes part of the game.  From their unique dimensions, the sights, sounds and smells contained within to the time spent bonding with the stadium it almost becomes an old friend.  These parks both new and old, have personalities all their own.

Authors Rhodes and Erardi have taken us back in time to visit with an old friend.  Crosley Field was the home of the Cincinnati Reds for over 50 years.  It was the site of some great moments in Reds baseball and of baseball history in general.  They have created more than just a picture book of Crosley field.  They have actually captured the personality and written the detailed story of a member of the Cincinnati family.

You not only get all the nuances that made Crosley Field a great place to go see a baseball game,  you get so much more.  You get stories about the fans that visited, the growth of the game and how it pertained to the stadium and how Crosley fit into the growing populace of the city.  The character of the stadium and physical changes within are captured in this book as well.  This is really a comprehensive history that brings the old girl back to life.

If you are a fan that has lost your old stadium due to the influx of new baseball palaces over the last 20 years, you should appreciate this book.  The Reds may bot be your hometown team but we can all relate to losing the place we called home.  I know as a Phillies fan, Veterans Stadium was my home away from home growing up.  Quite honestly, it was a giant crap-hole……but it was our crap-hole.  It has been reduced to rubble and is now a parking lot for the glorious new Citizens Bank Park.  But when I think of some of my favorite memories with my Dad growing up, that old crap-hole comes back to life and will forever be a part of my life.  This book has the same effect.  If you were ever at a game there it will bring back great memories.  If you were never there than this will paint a great picture of what the place was all about.  Sometimes you can go home again……even if home is no longer there.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Clericy Press


Happy Reading


The 1867 Washington Nationals……an out of book experience

Well, I finally did it……it was difficult but not as painful as I expected…..but still a little scary.  What am I talking about here?


I read an E-book!!!!!!!!!!!

I know, I know that’s not a big deal to the mainstream world but I don’t even own an E-reader(Yes, I borrowed one).  I am technologically challenged at best.  I enjoy the feel of a real book in my hand and turning pages and needing some sort of light to read by.  Now all that being said, I survived so I will keep moving forward from here.


Todays book is….

The Washington Nationals and Their Great Tour of 1867

By: Frank Ceresi and Carol McMains


Published by Miniver Press (miniverpress.com)



Yes Kiddies, there was Baseball in D.C. before 2005 🙂


Now I thought I was well versed in the history of our beloved game but I was sadly mistaken.  This little book takes you through some of the earliest documented stages of our “National Pastime”.  It discusses the social impacts that Baseball had on Civil War America and how it was a morale booster for the soldiers.  It discusses the conditions in which they played and rules they played by of which I did not know scores of over 100 per game were commonplace.  Finally it discusses the post war “Grand Tour” of the Senators into the expanding now Mid-West United States and how through that Grand Tour they were able to expose countless people to the charm of Baseball.


You notice some more famous names from Baseball history such as A.G. Spalding involved with this promotional tour as well.  But the most fascinating thing I found with this book was the progression of the rules and how they have changed in current Baseball.  Also that the players used to have to pay to participate in the league instead of getting paid, which is a far cry from today’s Baseball.  Another fascinating aspect of this book through some of the activities is that you can start to see some of the groundwork being laid for the current American League teams.  So I bet if it researched back far enough you could find some sort of tie to these teams of yesteryear with our current teams.


The only two things that I found disappointing about this book is first, that just as today it is true, the New York teams were the strong and dominant team.  The second one is that this is not a printed book because I would love to have a hard copy in my collection.


Overall it is a good read that gives some insight into a long forgotten time that would be informative and enjoyable for the history buffs.  If you have an interest in 19th century Baseball and have an E-reader this may be worth looking into for you.  This e-book can be found at http://www.miniverpress.com and is very affordable.


Happy Reading