This weekend will be a momentous occasion for my fairly new little family. We have decided to take my Daughter Aubrey to her first Phillies game this Sunday. Now for some families this might not be a big deal, I mean come on she will never have any recollection of this game except for any pictures that get taken, but for us this is a big deal. It is the start of hopefully a life long love of going to the ballpark, smelling the grass and taking in the sights and sounds. It is also a milestone in our return to the Philly area because this is one of the things we missed doing the most. So I decided it was a good time to check out today’s book, because no better time than now to make it a full Philadelphia Phillies weekend.
William Kashatus is no stranger to authoring books about the Phillies. His previous book showcases a great era in team history and has been featured on here previously. I thought this books’ timing was a little odd since it is the 24th anniversary of the team……..not the 25th and there was no real notable events surrounding team members other than Curt Shilling still can’t shut his mouth. But I can once again Kashatus has thrown this avid Phillies fan another walk back through time to revisit the glory days of a team whose successes at that time were few and far between.
This team was a bunch of freaks and cast offs from other teams to put it nicely. Assembled as an attempt to right a sinking ship in Philadelphia, they endeared themselves through rugged play and in the end easily became one of the most beloved teams in the history of the Phillies. This book takes a look at these personalities and shows what they were like both on and off the field. Pulling no punches, it brings up the question of who was using PED’s on that team, but this book does show once again that unfortunately we as fans may never get a definitive answer on the subject.
The book also highlights some of the more monumental events of that magical season and the effect it had on the city of brotherly love. As a first hand witness of this team and its effect on the city, the author does a great job of portraying the team, its players, its attitude and general overall demeanor. They were a bunch of guys that everyone in the city wanted to hang out at the bar with. For no other team would fans sit through a twi-night double header that stated at 5:30 p.m., endured multiple rain delays and ended at 4:41 a.m.. It is still my most favorite game that I have ever been to, one reason being once the bars closed at 2 a.m. everyone was coming to the ballpark. There were more people there at 4 a.m. then when the game started. All because everyone loved these guys.
If you were not able to witness the team first hand, this book gives fans a great feel of what they were all about. Almost 25 years later Macho Row holds a special place in fan’s hearts. They may be a little older now, but it hasn’t slowed any of them down, they still get in fist fights amongst themselves when the make appearances in the area and quite honestly the true Phillies fans don’t expect any less from most of them.
All baseball fans should check this out because it is a vivid contrast against the super teams of today’s baseball. The were a bottom feeding, scrapper team that made it to the top on strictly grit and determination. Make the effort to check this one out from the University of Nebraska Press, it is definitely worth the time.
I will admit, Bill Giles was never one of my favorite people. I am from the generation that grew up during Mr. Giles hands on, upper level management of my beloved Phillies. Except for one year after Giles’ ownership group purchased the team, the 80’s were not necessarily a great time to be a Phillies fan. His hands on management style and GM skills left a little bit to be desired for the Philadelphia faithful. I expected todays book to a biography on Bill Giles and his time in Philly, but got so much more………………
Bill Giles & Baseball
By John B. Lord 2014-Temple University Press
I did realize Bill Giles was a lifer in the baseball world, before I read this book. From his early beginnings, training under Gabe Paul with the Cincinnati Reds to his final destination as the Chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies. Giles has been an innovator, marketing wizard, peace maker, media genius and almost everything in between.
As stated above, I expected a normal everyday biography on Giles, instead I got a glimpse into the substantial impact he has had on the game. The author gives you some brief history of the game itself, then jumps in with both feet covering the economic challenges to the game during the 80’s and 90’s. You go through year by year exploring topics such as labor unrest, collusion, commissioner powers, media deals, revenue sharing, league restructuring and inter-league play. You learn how Bill Giles had a hand in fixing some of these issues as well as being the person who made some of the new ideas a reality.
John B. Lord does not forget to cover the positive impact he has had in Philadelphia. This was a good chapter for a Phillies fan because sometimes we tend to forget there are positives that exist with Giles ownership. You get an inside look at the building of Citizens Bank Park and all the hurdles that had to be cleared to make the project come to fruition. Finally you get a glimpse at what its like to assemble a championship caliber team in a city that loves winners.
The author did a great job showing the true value of Bill Giles. He has made valuable contributions to both Philadelphia and the overall structure of baseball. Being a cynical Phillies fan, I myself have probably overlooked some of the value of Mr. Giles. This book has changed my overall perception of him and has allowed me to look past the failings during the 80’s.
For baseball fans, this book is informative and well written and gives you a look at how the baseball establishment runs itself. I don’t think you get many opportunities to see how they function like this one. It also shows how important Bill Giles is to the game we see on the field today. There are many of his ideas out there on the field that we never would have known were his creations.
For Phillies fans maybe they should read it and see once and for all what Bill Giles is really about. Perhaps we have been a little tough on Ol’ Bill for too many years. This book has made me thing we are actually probably better off for having him here.
You can get this book from the friendly folks at Temple University Press