Tagged: casey stengel

Baseball’s Fallen Angel


I easily admit that my favorite genre of baseball books are the biographies.  They help show the real person behind the player’s public image and sometimes allows fans to get an inside scoop on some events.  On the other hand some of the biographies are ghost-written, self-serving and are just a ploy to both increase popularity and pocket a few extra bucks.  Thankfully for readers, those books are usually evident before you ever make the mistake of buying them.  Readers should also be grateful to find books like today’s autobiography, because it shows the human side of a player, flaws and all, and does not sugar coat anything.

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By:Eli Grba & Doug Williams-2016

Now we all know Eli Grba did not have a Hall of Fame baseball career by any measure but he this book shows that he is a Hall of Fame caliber person.  He had a well known problem with alcohol during his playing days and subsequent years and that honestly is just the tip of the iceberg in this compelling life story.

Eli Grba walks the readers through his entire life story in this book.  From his upbringing and his time labeled as a troubled youth and the multiple problems associated with that tag to the his showing promise as a stud pitcher.  You see the highs and lows of his life through all of its stages and it shows his true human side.  It also shows the love he had for his family, especially his mother, and how he has realized later in life the trouble and pain he has caused for those who loved him.

Grba also walks the readers through his rise through the baseball ranks and his eventual arrival to the majors.  He shows us the troubles he had along the way and how alcohol was the usually the underlying theme to these issues. He also shows us how in the end, alcohol derailed his promising career and how except for a few highlights it was talent wasted.

This book is a great look at a player who has come to terms with his demons and admirably overcome them and made his life better for both himself and those around him.  He talks extensively about his mother and the closeness they had and now realizes the pain he caused her over the years.  Throughout the book Eli is very honest with the readers and pulls no punches about his faults and failures along the way.  It is refreshing in this day and age to say anyone take responsibility for their actions, but it is even more eye opening to see a former professional athlete do it .

This is a great book for baseball fans to read.  It sheds a bright light on both Eli Grba’s life and career and shows how he was able to beat those demons.  Both Eli and co-author Doug Williams have made this a great story to read and a book that many people will not be able to put down.  It is one of those books that people dealing with the same types of problems will be able to relate to and in the end be able to take something from it that will help them with their own struggles.

Take a look around on social media sites because you can get autographed copies direct from Eli Grba as well as getting it from the standard on-line retailers.

Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed, because the first angel has written a first rate book.

Happy Reading

Gregg

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Hairs vs. Squares…and the Tumultuous Summer of ’72


There are certain seasons that stand out from others.  Perhaps it is a historical event that happened during that particular year, a team that overcame great odds or even a year of monumental changes that may be hard to recognize without the use of hind sight.  1972 is one of those years that on the surface while it was happening, the participants really were not living it going this is something great we are doing here.  It was a year that was plop in the middle of the time when the players union was starting to be a formidable force within the game, as well as a noticeable change in society’s values.  Time where authority was being challenged, inflation was starting to run rampant and in the public’s eyes baseball would start moving from just a game to a business.  Today’s book takes a look at the one pivotal year within this decade of change and shows some of the signs that people may have missed that the game was changing.

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By:Ed Gruver-2016

1972 offered some interesting things to baseball fans.  Rosters were jammed full of future Hall of Famers, some at the beginnings of their careers and sadly other at the end, but when the bell would ring, still able to bring it.  It was the first year the Player Union made enough noise to institute a strike and cost MLB owners some games, showing that Marvin Miller was not going to go away quietly as they had hoped.  Salaries were on the move up and players were going from needing to have extra income in the off-season(second job) to living comfortably all year on their baseball earnings.  On the field the most amazing thing happened was that the Oakland A’s run by the miserly Charlie Finley won the first of their three straight World Series titles.  But at the time nobody realized what they were about to witness.  Facing the straight laced Cincinnati Reds led by Pete Rose they knocked off their first title and showed the baseball world that the guys with their long hair and mustaches had finally arrived.

Ed Gruver’s new book takes the reader through the changing times in baseball during the 1972 season.  Looking back on that year from our comfy couches in 2016, the big headlines that year was the 1972 World Series between the A’s and the Reds.  Essentially a clash between old school baseball and new world values.  On the field it was all old school baseball but off the field the Oakland A’s were a sight glass into the changing norms of society.  Clothing, attitude and rules were all up for debate as far as the rowdy A’s were concerned.

The author also does a great job at covering at the different teams that made a splash during the 1972 season.   The Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals all had seasons to remember on the field and some individuals made headlines as well.  Willie Mays made triumphant return to the New York by joining the Mets,  Hank Aaron  was making headlines almost every day in his chase of Babe Ruth’s career home run mark and Dick Allen was singlehandedly saving the Chicago White Sox franchise on the way to winning the American League MVP trophy.  It gives the reader a good look of what was going on around baseball beyond just the World Series participants.  It shows the up and downs of other teams that before the decade was out would create their own histories.

This book gives you a great feel of what being part of 1972 was all about and how to some degree it was the changing of the guard within baseball.  Old school baseball thinking versus new school societal ways created some tumultuous times and 1972 was the tipping point.   I always enjoy these books that pick a single year and dissect all the important events.  We have seen this type of book in Dan Epstein’s book about the 1976 season, Stars & Strikes and TimWendel’s Summer of ’68.  Those books like this one, segregate that one season and look at the effects that it may have had on other seasons down the line.  These are great tools for fans who were not able to be there the first time around, but want to know the ins and outs of that season and what made it so special.

This book is published by the University of Nebraska press and the last book I recently did by them was in my opinion not up to their normal editing standards from a factual standpoint.  I am glad to say this book has raised the bar back up to their normal standards for the most part, but did have one easily verifiable mistake that drove me crazy, and as a Phillies fan it made me even crazier.  The book states that Dick Allen was the first black player ever on the Phillies when he debuted in 1963. That would be three years after the last team integrated in Major League Baseball.  For the Phillies the first player of color was John Kennedy in 1957.  Other than that there was nothing substantial in the error department.

If you are a fan of this era you should enjoy it.  It does start out a little slow and does offer a bit too much game play by play in spots but the product as a whole reads well.  You get a new appreciation for 1972, because this year is an integral part of a larger era and sometimes gets overlooked when examined as part of the greater time frame.

You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

Hairs vs. Squares

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

The Colonel and Hug-The Partnership That Transformed the New York Yankees


It always starts somewhere.  No matter who your team is, their history begins at a specific point in time.  Now for the first few years they may not be very good, but eventually there is a point when they get better.  You can see a point where the team improves and success is imminent.  Now for some teams success is fleeting, while for others the highs ride along for several years.  For the New York Yankees they have had decades of success.  With a few speed bumps along the way and a bad era or two, they really have been the most successful franchise in baseball history.  This streak of great teams had to start somewhere and there had to be a certain person responsible for building that winner, now there is a book that shows when the Yankees started to take over the game of baseball.

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By: Steve Steinberg & Lyle Spatz-2015

I have never hidden the fact that I am not a New York Yankees fan.  But even I have to admit as a baseball fan that they have such a rich history, it is hard not to admire it.  Once playing second fiddle in New York City to the Giants, the Yankees found the right combination of ownership, management and players that helped propel them into the stratosphere of sports.

Steinberg and Spatz walk the reader through the partnership between Miller Huggins and Jacob Ruppert.  More than just an owner and employee relationship, they worked together to build the foundation of a team destined for glory.  They found unprecedented success and took over as the number one team in New York.  The most important thing to take away from this book is that it was not Babe Ruth that turned around the Yankees, it was these two Hall of Famers.

This book is a great walk through an entirely different era of baseball.  Completely 180 degrees different from what we are used to as fans of the sport today.  Society may have changed as well as the financial structure of the game, but the end result has never changed.  To win championships and maintain success have always been the underlying theme to the game.  The Yankees certainly have done that through the years and this book shows the reader exactly when those events occurred that started this ball rolling down the hill.

The authors did very thorough research on this book and it shines through.  They kept the story moving at a good pace which made it very hard to put down at times.  With so many books out there about the Yankees, this one portrays a different era in baseball and also shows that the New York Yankees existed before George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson came to town.

This book should appeal to more than just Yankees fans.  It shows a different time in both the world and baseball and is a very good history lesson to readers.  It shows the steps that needed to be taken to build a winner and sustain that success.  I really think if you put the time into this one, you will not be disappointed.

You can get this one from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

The Colonel and Hug

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

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

Happy Reading

Gregg

Mets Journal – Year by Year with the New York Mets Since 1962


Much to most of baseballs surprise, it is the first week of September and the New York Mets have a tight grip on first place in the National League East.  Mets fans will understand if the rest of the world says talk to us in a month when all the dust has settled and see where you are. Baseball is a game that you never count your chickens before they hatch.  The Mets have been down this road during their history and it has not always been the best of outcomes for them.  Now there is a book that helps Mets fans relive the highs, lows and spectacular events that make them proud to be called fans of the Metropolitans.

By: John Snyder - 2011

By: John Snyder – 2011

Some years it is harder to be a fan of the Mets than it is in others.  From collapses, bad free agent signings, financial scandals and that pesky Bobby Bonilla contract that they are paying on until sometime during the 26th century, it can be tough to be faithful.  Mets fans have proven their loyalty to their team and are being rewarded handsomely for it this year.  Their team history has not always been the greatest either, from their inaugural 120-loss season to a few World Championships in-between, they still have a rich history that is worth celebrating.

John Snyder has written a fun book for New York Mets fans.  It covers the entire team history from 1962 through 2010.  It covers every facet of the team you could imagine, and breaks each year into segments.  Team rosters, statistical leaders, final standings, attendance and a nice little one sentence synopsis that sums up the teams entire season.  Next it presents in chronological order any of the important things that happened on or off the field that year that pertained to the Mets.  Finally at the end of each chapter it relays an anecdote that pertains to that individual season.  If you are trying to brush up on your team history, this book is really a fun way to approach it.

Mets fans obviously will enjoy this book.  You can re-live memories or even learn about some years you may have been on sabbatical from your favorite team.  Yes, that last sentence happens to most fans at one point or another.  Fans of other teams who are not crazy about the Mets could use this book as a learning tool to gain some insight on team history.  Also the author has published other team journals of this type, so your team may be represented by one of those volumes.

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

https://www.clerisypress.com/product.php?productid=17001

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Gospel According to Casey


Baseball has been full of colorful characters during its existence.  Players, managers, coaches owners and many other bigger than life personalities have fallen into this category.  For some its an act that becomes pretty transparent,  but for others it is  a genuine trait.  People have called these people flakes, or feeble or just plain crazy, but in the end they are probably some of the smartest people involved in the game.  Using the above adjectives brings to mind Casey Stengel.  The Old Professor could dazzle listeners, fans and writers alike with tall tales mixed in with his own brand of Stengelese, that in the end would make their heads spin and make them forget what the question was.   Todays book is a collection of some of those masterful thoughts that help create his legacy on and off the field.

By: Ira BEerkow and Jim Kaplan-2015

By: Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan-2015

Casey Stengel was nobody’s fool in any sense of the word.  He was in fact quite the genius both on and off the field.  There is no reason to re-hash his baseball record because it speaks for itself, but most people dismissed him at time because of his double talking ways.  This is not a new book, but has been released by Summer Game Books in 2015.  What is important about this book is if you read between the lines, in Casey’s quotes you will find life lessons that almost anyone could live by.  Now some of Casey’s quotes were obviously tongue in cheek comments but he had a lot of wisdom gained on the baseball trail that he shared with anyone who would listen.

This re-issue is important because these quotes still apply in today’s game.  The way he treated his players and handled his team is something that carries from generation to generation and has proved effective more than once.  The book also contains some interviews with some of his former players, and it shows he really cared about them becoming successful.  That success was more of a personal thing, not monetary driven and he is portrayed as a caring manager and friend of the players.

Casey Stengel is a piece of American history beyond the New York Yankees and baseball itself.  He has been gone for 35 years now but this book gives us the opportunity to relive his humor and showcase his personality to future generations.  He should be remembered for what he accomplished on the field, his contributions to the game as well as the larger than life personality he was off the field.

Baseball fans will enjoy this.  There are some funny quotes and interviews that will give the reader a chuckle.  It also transports you back to a simpler time in the American Pastime.

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

http://www.summergamebooks.com/gospel-according-casey-ira-berkow-jim-kaplan/

Happy Reading

Gregg

Yankee Doodles – Inside the Locker Room with Mickey, Yogi, Reggie and Derek


When you do the same job for several decades it can get stale.  You get to the point that nothing new ever really happens and you just start phoning in your job.  You do the bare minimum just to skate by until you wind up retiring.  Now this is true for most of us, but if you are lucky enough to have a job that no two days are ever the same, it’s totally different.  You can’t wait to get to work and enjoy all the ups and downs of your job.  Now most of us obviously fall into the former description, but if you are the New York Yankees beat writer like Phil Pepe was for several decades, you have a ton of great stories filed away in the memory bank just waiting to be shared.  Todays book does just that.

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By:Phil Pepe-2015

This would probably be a dream job to most Yankee fans.  Following the team day in and day out, mingling among the legends and almost becoming an extension of the team itself.  While I am sure it is not a walk in the park every single day, I can think of a few professions that this would highly rank above.

Phil Pepe takes the reader on a journey with this book through several decades of Yankee stories.  It is personal, first hand interactions with the team and stories he has witnessed in his years covering the team.  He takes us from Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio all the way up through Derek Jeter.  In between those two icons the book is filled with stories about other Yankee legends that donned the pinstripes while he was their beat writer.  If you look at it from a historical standpoint this was a great time to be covering the team, because the baseball history he has witnessed is amazing.

This is a typical Pepe book in the style in which it is written.  I have always found his books to be engaging and able to pull the reader into the story and make them feel like they were there as well.  Phil Pepe has a real knack for getting the reader into a story and holding onto them until the very end.  Perhaps I am a little biased because the other books he has written have ranked up there among my favorites.  I am not sure if this was Pepe’s swan song for his distinguished career, but if it was he goes out on the top of his field.  He shows his skill and dedication to his craft and does not use it as any sort of retribution towards people in the stories he tells.  He tells stories that the everyday fan would never have known about if not told in this book. I found these stories in no way to be malicious or scandalous in any way, it was just more of a fun reflection on his career covering the Yankees.

Baseball fans and Yankee fans especially will enjoy this one.  Its just a lot of fun stories from a raunchy locker room that is not always visible to the public.  Readers should give this one a shot, I don’t think they will be dissapointed.

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

http://www.sportspubbooks.com/book/?gcoi=58261109512610

Happy Reading

Gregg