Tagged: Biography

Another Batch From McFarland That is Sure to Please

A few weeks ago we looked at a new batch of books recently published by McFarland.  I touched on the obscure factor that some of their books tend to embrace and how they fill a niche spot in the baseball book market.  Today we are going to look at a few more because honestly McFarland has a little something for every baseball fan.


By:Richard Bressler-2016

McFarland is always willing to publish team history books.  Looking at both the powerhouse teams that are part of the baseball fabric as well as those that time has essentially forgotten.  The year 1910 was an interesting point for the two teams involved in this volume and shows how it laid the groundwork for a streak that lasts to this day.

The 1910 World Series brought us the end of one dynasty and the birth of another.  The Chicago Cubs, coming off several very successful years and a win in the 1908 series were nearing the end of their reign.  While Connie Mack’s Athletics were poised to start a championship run of their own.  It was a fairly anti-climatic Series, but did offer an interesting historical note.  For the first time in World Series history, game two to be precise, was the first time all nine starters recorded a hit in the same game.  Its a neat little trivia factoid you can now impress all your friends with.

This is a timely book with the Cubs poised to possibly end their World Series drought and also it allows the reader to travel back in time to see an entirely different generation of the game.  Fans of either of these teams or of this era, will not be disappointed in this one.


By:Jeremy Lehrman-2016

This one takes a look at the history of the Most Valuable player award in Baseball.  It looks at the voting results and provides current statistical analysis to see what may have been different by todays standards.

It is an interesting view as at what may have been overlooked by voters in the past as well as what other factors may have played into the voting results.  It also shows how race may have been an underlying issue on some of the ballots.  The book is a good mix of history, commentary and statistical analysis.  For fans of these types of “what did we miss books”  this is another one you will really enjoy.


By:Brian Martin-2016

Finally, as the title says, Pud Galvin, not only the owner of an odd name was baseball’s first 300 game winner.  Enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965, 63 years after his death, his numerous records and 300+ wins still did not keep him from dying penniless.  One of the first real superstars of the game he had some amazing accomplishments on the field and helped grow the credibility of the early game.

One of the other footnotes to Galvin’s story is he may have been the first user of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Major League Baseball.  An advocate of using a monkey testosterone elixir, it seemed to enhance his on field performance.  The difference from today to over 100 years ago is that everyone was on board with the use of the concoction.  It shows a very different time in Baseball and quite honestly is a very interesting story for fans of the early eras of baseball.

You can check out these books and other great titles offered by this publisher at the following link:


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Billy Martin – Baseball’s Flawed Genius

Too much of a good thing is not healthy.  But how does one know when they get to that point.  It could be with food and drink, gambling, or countless other vices, usually you know when you have had enough.  With baseball books how are we to know when the market has been saturated with a particular subject?  Is it when the subject runs its course of popularity and what defines the point that subject transcends its own timeline?  There are certain personalities out there that no matter how much time passes between their relevance to the game and current times, the books keep on coming.   Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and a handful of others come to mind as players with too many books about them out there.  But today’s book to me is another biography on an above average player and manager that gets a ton of coverage no matter how many decades have passed.

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By:Bill Pennington – 2015

Billy Martin is a guy who got more mileage out of his personality than almost anyone in baseball.  People loved him and hated him, all at the same time, but you couldn’t deny his passion and skills.  On and off the field he was a lightning rod for trouble and everywhere he went, some sort of altercation interrupted his career at that time.  He has been the subject of many, many books and this new one tries to give the reader something different.

Bill Pennington has thrown his hat in the Billy Martin Ring with his new volume.  Pennington has done thorough research and given the reader a comprehensive story of the life of the volatile player and skipper.  From his early days in California to his career at various stops in the majors, the author has given you a good look at what made Billy tick.  There were some minor details about Martin’s story that knowledgeable fans may question but overall it is a nice piece of work that readers will enjoy.

The bigger question I have is why do we need another Billy Martin biography?  What has happened in recent years that has changed any opinions of Billy.  In the almost 25 years since Martin’s death, nothing new has surfaced that would warrant another book.  There have been several books on the market that have done this dance.  I know of at least ten other biographies that have chronicled Martin’s life and there is a lot of overlap between those books already.  So I am not sure why we needed another one.  I understand the appeal of the Yankees and Martin’s personality, so that is really the only reason I can conceive as to why this book, at this point in time.

As I said above, Bill Pennington did a really nice job with this book, save for the few minor details he doesn’t have quite right.  If you haven’t inundated yourself with Billy Martin biographies in the past, then you will really enjoy this book.  If you are like me and read all the other versions available, then you may have trouble finding some new information to keep your attention.  I don’t want to discourage readers from checking out this book, I just want them to keep in mind it is a lot of the same stories that have been visited many times before.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Billy Martin-Baseball’s Flawed Genius

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Honus Wagner – A Biography

Sometimes you come across a player that has a lot of book presence in the market.  Billy Martin is one that comes to mind as well as most of the other Yankee stars like Mantle and DiMaggio.  Then there are others that have the market presence but still languish in the shadows.  They may have played for a team in a smaller market or be from an era that is not as popular as some others.  Honus Wagner is one of those players that has had several biographies written about him.  So how do fans decide which ones are worth their time and which ones they should avoid at any cost?  They stop by the bookcase of course and I give them my thoughts………

By:Dennis & Jeanne Burke DeValeria - 1995

By:Dennis & Jeanne Burke DeValeria – 1995

Honus Wagner was the National League superstar of his era.  He was the nicer, friendlier version of his American League counterpart Ty Cobb.  Playing in Pittsburgh probably diminished his popularity to some degree, but he still produced on the field and became one of the brightest stars in the game.  You would think it would be easy to write about a career of this caliber but this book proves that it may be harder than one thinks.

Honus Wagner, A Biography disappointed me.  I was hoping for a book that would give me a good feel for the player and the personality contained within.  What I found was a book that was very big on game detail.  Within those details it made it cumbersome to get through the book, because you were never sure where it was headed.  Me being the reader, also had trouble with keeping track of who the author was talking about at that particular time.  Was it Wagner or one of his teammates?  It just was missing some sort of structure in the writing that really left me at times, confused.

The author’s research and work involved in fact-finding is the one bright spot of the book.  It really came across that they tried to find every fact they could about Honus Wagner that was out there.  The big problem was that the presentation of all those facts was missing some structure and in the end, not good in my opinion.  I also didn’t get any good information regarding Honus Wagner.  I had wanted to learn more about him on a personal level and had high hopes that this book would deliver.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  I have read other books on Wagner in the past and reviewed some of them on here as well, and this sadly fails in comparison to the others.

Pirates fans might enjoy this book, just for the fact that it is a local boy makes good story.  Other fans not so much and I recommend you gravitate towards some of the other Honus Wagner biographies that are out there on the market.  If you still are interested in this one though, you can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pittsburgh Press.

Honus Wagner – A Biography

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