Tagged: Braves

The Orlando Cepeda Story


When one thinks of under rated players lots of guys come to mind.  When that happens, which it seems to a lot, perhaps they get overlooked for earned accolades such as the Hall of Fame.  Luckily for some of those players they get the credit they deserved, while others just get forgotten.  Orlando Cepeda was always a player I thought was overlooked.  For what ever the reasons may be he always seemed to be forgotten in the conversations about the greats of the game.  It seems since his induction to the Hall of Fame that he has finally gotten the accolades he deserves.  Today’s book takes a look at that overlooked Hall of Fame career.

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By:Bruce Markusen-2001

By far this is not a new release, but Cepeda seems to be a neglected subject in the book market.  There are only a handful of Orlando Cepeda books out there but this one stands tall among the others.  As always, Bruce Markusen does not disappoint.

Markusen’s book takes a very in-depth look at both Cepeda’s childhood and career development along with his MLB career.  From his upbringing in Puerto Rico and growing up in the shadow of his father who was a former semi-pro player to becoming a star in his own right in his homeland, you see the environment that helped shape the man.  You also get to see the immense pride that Cepeda has within himself and his country.

You next see the struggles Orlando overcomes in reaching the major leagues.  At the time he came up, there were still residual effects of segregation effecting the Latino players, so you see how Cepeda was able to overcome these obstacles as well.  From the start with the Giants in 1958, through the end with the Royals in 1974, Markusen takes us on Orlando’s journey through playing time, injuries, trades, the post season and winter ball.  It shows a very complete picture of Orlando’s career.  It also shows the reader some of the labels he was saddled with throughout the league that were not always positive.  Injuries proved troublesome for him that got him the label of lazy and others along that line.  These types of things helped keep Orlando Cepeda under rated as well.

Finally the author looks at Cepeda’s life after baseball.  It briefly talks about his time in prison and how it effected his life. The one positive that has come out of his prison time is that it seems to have changed Orlando for the positive and he has in the end turned his life around for the better.  It was also this jail time that probably led to him not getting in the Hall of Fame for as long as he did.

Markusen’s book tells a very good story about Cepeda and his life.  The only problem I have with it is that it is only 126 pages.  I would have liked to see it talk a little more about life after baseball with some more pages.  Even though it is short, it is still a very good book that paints a good picture for the readers.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Arte Publico Press

http://www.artepublicopress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

That’s Joy in Braveland – The 1957 Milwaukee Braves


I always find it fascinating to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the field.  I wonder if fans of other teams are as miserable as I am as a Phillies fan.  I wonder if they have the same excitement when their team finally finds success, and its interesting to see how those fans react.  These reasons explain why I enjoy team books so much.  Especially those books that focus on a certain year in the team’s history, even if it wasn’t a succesful year.  Todays book takes a look at one of those succesful team that had an incredible year.

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That’s Joy in Braveland – The 1957 Milwaukee Braves, By Gregory Wolf

The Milwaukee Braves were short-lived.  Playing in Milwaukee from 1953-1965 after their transplant from Boston, it almost seemed those 12 years were just a rest stop on their way to Atlanta.  But the Braves had one magical season in 1957 that stands out in the fans mind to this day.  No matter who your team is, you would want a season like this to remember.

SABR member Gregory Wolf and his group of editors have written a great book that celebrates that magical season.  They take you on a journey through the team roster.  In great detail they look at all the strengths and weaknesses that each player had and what contributions they made to the team.  This book covers every last person on the roster that season, not just the superstars.  From opening day to the World Series end, you get everyone.  It makes you go wow, I never realized that guy was on this team.  It also reviews all the highs that the season contained for the fans and their journey to the World Series.

One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was how the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee.  It put some of the pieces in their proper place so you understood the entire story of the move out of Beantown.    Books written by SABR members never fail to amaze me.  They always give me some sort of information that I always was curious about but could never find the back story on it.

If you are a Milwaukee Braves fan this book will not disappoint.  It gives amazing amounts of details about that historical season, that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.  Fans of great teams and special seasons will also enjoy this book, because it was something really special to be a part of.   As always, SABR writers do not disappoint.

You can get this book from the nice folks at The Society for American Baseball Research

http://www.sabr.org

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

The Wizard of Waxahachie, Paul Richards and the End of Baseball as we knew it


Baseball is full of storied careers.  With the passage of time, some of the stories become bigger than life.  Some of those careers get clouded by the haze of nostalgia, or the feeling of what we used to have is better than today.  Todays book takes an honest look at a high-profile career and gave me a clear look at what really happened.

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The Wizard of Waxahachie

By:Warren Corbett – 2009 Southern Methodist University Press

Paul Richards mark on baseball is undeniable.  There are many things, by design or perhaps by accident, that have been attributed to him.  Pitch counts, five man pitching rotations, tracking on-base percentages, his fingerprints are all over baseball today.  What you don’t always see is the way the mind operated during his lifetime dedicated to the sport.

Warren Corbett wrote a book almost 25 years after Richards death.  Relying on family memories, notes and audio recordings that the family had provided, and has given a seldom seen side of Paul Richards.  He delves in to the devious side of Richards and his dealings with players and management during his illustrious career.  He also creates an accurate feeling that he was a hustler to many, both on the field and the golf course.

The most interesting aspect of this book to me is the trouble Paul Richards had bridging the generation gap.  When I say generation gap I am talking about the gap that was created near the end of his career in the dawn of free agency.  Richards had a lot of problems accepting the birth and subsequent power of the MLB Players Union.  It shows how after almost 50 years in baseball he was very set in his ways.

While after finding moderate success on and off the field in all his stops in baseball, Richards was a man of many friends and able to work the old boy network to his advantage and always find work.  That may be some of the reason he was not interested in adjusting to the new era of baseball.  The book is very heavy in detail about his time in Baltimore with the Orioles.  It was the longest stop of his career but still dominates about half of this book.  His stops in Houston, Atlanta, both stops in Chicago and finally Texas seem to be condensed versions to fit in the book.  I think a little more time could have been spent in Houston alone, due to the challenges of building a new franchise.

In the end Richards does not come out of the book looking like the genius he is regarded as today.  He seems almost human and to an extent skating through some of the stops in his career.  The end result of the book has shown us what I feel is a very fair and accurate portrait of Paul Richards.  Wayne Corbett did a great job on this biography especially since he was doing it almost 25 years after Richards death.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Southern Methodist University Press

http://www.tamupress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Ball Four-The Final Pitch……..Again!


When you have a good thing that makes some money, you ride it out until it stops producing.  I get that economic principle to its fullest.  I also understand the book market has changed drastically over the last few decades, so if you have a product that works you just stick with it.  That is the one of the reasons why I see that the todays book has come out with yet another edition.

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Ball Four-The Final Pitch

By:Jim Bouton-2014 Turner Publishing

Jim Bouton has never been one to shy away from controversy.  From the day the first edition of Ball Four hit the book shelves Bouton has been a lightning rod for it.  From the first time the behind the scenes look at a baseball life revealed the skeletons in the baseball closet, people have talked about this book.  From sex to drugs to lifting the veil on our favorite baseball heroes this book has gotten some serious mileage in the sports and literary world.

Most if not all of the baseball reading world has read at least one edition of this book.  For me, one of the first baseball books I ever read was the second edition, Ball Four Plus Ball Five when I was about 13 years old.  For a teenage baseball fan this book was a shocker.  Most of Bouton’s career was before my time but it was still a real eye-opener.

What Bouton did was give a day by day no holds barred account of the baseball life.  It broke the cardinal player rule of what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.  Having an extended career with the famed New York Yankees and then subsequent time with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, Bouton had lots of material.  Lifting the curtain on what happened with the high-profile players on the Yankees was a major shock to the baseball world, and really pissed off a lot of people.

This book has been compared at time to Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season, published a decade prior to Ball Four But in all honesty, Brosnan’s book felt very sanitary compared to Bouton’s and still honored some of the locker room code of the day.  Both still have their place in your bookcase, but are very different animals.

The part I find most interesting about Ball Four is how every so often a new version is released.  Ball Four has more lives than an alley-cat.  Even if it is just a few new pages of material a new edition carrying a new subtitle is released. Sometimes it may just be a signed edition with a new cover that emerges to the retail bookshelves, but every decade or so it seems you can expect something new from Jim.  Ball Four-The Final Pitch is no exception.

The Final Pitch gives you five new pages of epilogue from Jim Bouton penned in April 2014.  He discusses his personal opinion on steroids and how to handle the players of the era and the issue of Hall of Fame induction.  Surprisingly, it is in line with my own personal views on the subject.  In the end it gave Jim a new spin on his 45-year-old book and garnered a place in my bookcase for the now 5th different version that I have of essentially the same book.  This is the only version I have of the book that is not signed by Jim, so I will have to get working to correct that.  I guess in theory,  this alley cat, if it truly has nine lives,  still has four more versions left to go so it will be interesting to see what the next edition brings to the table.

I think every baseball book collection needs at least one edition of this book in it.  Even today it is still an enjoyable book.  Partner that with this books historical significance and it should be on everyone’s book shelf.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Turner Publishing

http://www.turnerpublishing.com

Happy Reading

Gregg