I am a born and raised product of Philadelphia. I am loyal to my teams, much of it to a fault and live and die by what they accomplish. In my lifetime my Phillies have won two World Series Championships, five pennants and twelve division titles. For some teams that may be impressive considering it covers over four decades, but not for the Phillies. They have been around for almost 135 years and have had limited success. Even when they capture the brass ring they somehow find a way to screw it up. Today’s book takes a look at how the Phillies are intertwined with the city of Philadelphia’s self image and how they have helped shape each others destinies.
Let me start out by saying, we Philadelphia sports fans are nowhere near as bad as our reputation states. Yes we are passionate, yes we are dedicated and yes we expect 110% effort from our players. We hate to see other stadiums where the game is an afterthought, people only go there for the social status attached to it and leave by the 7th inning to beat traffic. We are not the baby hating, nun tripping, puppy kicking hate mongers the world has made us out to be. We are just very, very dedicated, I mean seriously we only beat up Santa Claus that one time.
Mitchell Nathanson has written a book that take a look at the 1977 Phillies NLCS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That series contained a sequence of events that Phillies fans to this day refer to as Black Friday(Game 3). Basically, it was the game that shifted the entire series momentum to the Dodgers and they never looked back. My journey as a Phillies fan started the next day after Black Friday when my Dad took me to Game 4 for my very first in person game at Veterans Stadium at the ripe old age of four.
Nathanson does a very nice job of reviewing the series but what I found more interesting about this book is how shows the parallel between the city’s baseball teams and its self worth. It chronicles both the Athletics and their time in town as well as the Phillies. Quite honestly when Philly had two teams the Phillies were the red headed step child of the town. Only after the A’s departure did the city start to identify with the hapless Phillies.
The book does do a very nice job of covering the events of the 1977 NLCS as they unfolded. The downside is that portion of the story is no more than 30% of the entire book. It has more written about activities in Philadelphia and the history of the city. If you are not from Philadelphia or do not have some sort of interest in city politics you may have a bit of trouble getting through this. Overall it does a very nice job of sharing the story of Philadelphia, but if you are looking for a true baseball story it may not have enough game information to hold your interest.
Readers should check it out so that they can get a better idea of why the Phillies fans are the way we are, and may God have mercy on our Philly sports fan souls.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
There are players in the history of baseball that transcend all of time. No matter how much time passes they are in conversations and debates almost on a daily basis. Names like Mantle, DiMaggio, Williams, Mays, Aaron, Bonds and Rose are all names that will forever be talked about and for the most part held in high regard. Regardless of their transgressions on and off the field they are still beloved by many. There are others that the exact opposite is true of. One such person is Ty Cobb. More than a few books have been written about The Georgia Peach and his exploits and honestly up until now most have not been complimentary. There was a new book published this year that attempts to change how we feel about Ty Cobb.
Charles Leerhsen took on a pretty big task in trying to change Ty Cobb’s image. It seems we as baseball fans and as a society were pretty set in our opinions of Cobb. We accepted the facts that he was a cut throat player willing to win at any cost. We also accepted the fact that he was a raging racist during his life. Basically we all were comfortable accepting the fact that he was an all around SOB. Through other books that were written, most of these facts were able to be backed up by stories and first hand accounts, and even though we now know a few may have been fabrications, we were all pretty set in our opinions. But what if we are wrong?
The author, through newspaper articles, interviews and some of Cobb’s own writings has tried to get to the real man behind the image. He does an in-depth look at the personality and the behavior of the man set in his own era. He attempts to dispel rumors, expose certain truths as fraud and show the gentler, kinder side of ole’ Ty.
This book gets its point across very eloquently and does pose some very interesting questions for the reader. Perhaps the biggest question I had at the end of this is were we wrong? I don’t know for sure honestly, but it definitely has raised some serious questions in my mind. Cobb’s grandson Herschel wrote a book about Ty last year and that to me started the ball rolling in my mind that maybe we have the story a little skewed. I finished the book and still in my own mind have no definitive answers on Ty Cobb, but I have opened up to the possibility that the accepted story may not at the very least be accurate.
I recommend this book to any and all baseball fans because if nothing else it will start to make you wonder. It is written very well and moves along nicely. It is not a mindless biography and it forces the reader to contemplate whether they still accept the opinions we have previously accepted as fact. Maybe someone will also help me figure out what I think about the whole subject, because I am still not sure.