As we sit here today, Opening Day is only five short days away. I find that very hard to believe since I am sitting here watching a foot and a half of snow that came three days ago, melt out the window, but I am sure the baseball scheduling Gods have that all figured out. The Spring edition of Odds and Ends is upon us and while everything we look at today may not be a 2018 new season release, they are still solid books to help the reader wander through the new baseball year.
Ronald T. Waldo always takes on somewhat obscure era’s and subjects for his books. It is a good thing because Waldo always shows the reader an almost forgotten era in baseball and brings prominent names back to the forefront. I like Waldo’s books because his thorough research always shines through in the book and you can rely on the accuracy of the stories he tells the reader. If you have any sort of interest in 1920’s baseball or want to use this book as a history lesson for yourself, than this book is definitely one you should check out. You can get this one from the friendly folks at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Staying in the same era of baseball, what more can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It has won numerous awards since its release last year and quite honestly deserves every one of them. Steinberg has done a phenomenal job bringing the life and career of Urban Shocker to the modern day fan. It gives the reader a glimpse of what baseball was like during that timeframe and makes you realize how even though we are still essentially playing the same game, times have changed dramatically. For those with an interest in players of the past, the New York Yankees and several other aspects this book presents to the reader, it is worth checking out. It offers so many levels of information that you will be glad you took the time to read it. You can get this one from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press.
There have been a few books written by, or about Lou in the past. For my money, this one is the best of the bunch. It is updated through the end of his managerial career and into retirement and really gets you to the personal side of Lou Piniella. It covers his full life and is not really specifically team focused. It goes through everywhere he stopped during his playing and managing days and really doesn’t pull any punches. He is telling it like he sees it at this point. Other books on Lou have been more team or time frame focused, so this one really shows it all. If you have read the other books, there may be some overlap of information on certain teams but for the grand picture of a career this is your best bet. Yu can get this one from the nice folks at Harper Collins Publishers.
If you have a Yankees book, you should always follow it with a Red Sox book. 1967 seems to be a watershed year for the Sox and always seems to be the year everyone references as the highlight of an era. It was their first real taste of success after a long drought but it was unfortunately not sustained. Crehan’s book takes a good look at 1967 and why it is so special to Boston fans and why it was an important year in team history. For those of us not around then or for those not paying attention to them in 1967 it gives a great look at what happened. If you are a hardcore BoSox fan, of course you will want to read this, but some of theses stories may be tried and true classics that you love to hear about. For others, it may be a good learning tool about 1967 and the names that help make this team famous. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books.
Where would the game be without the Sportswriters. They are a vital part of looking at the game and analyzing what transpires on the field. Jim Kaplan previously has written for Sports Illustrated and has decided to share his thoughts on the history of the game and some of his views of players, on field plays and other aspects we may not have thought about. Its a fun read and makes you look at things just a little differently than you had before. You can get this one from the nice folks at Levellers Press.
McFarland has never been a publisher that was one to shy away from overlooked players or long forgotten subjects and this one easily falls into that category. Roy Sievers was a feared hitter during the 50″s but was often overshadowed by the other greats of that decade both on the field and in print. Finally getting his due in book form, readers can now learn about the great career of one of baseballs most overlooked hitters of that decade as well as learn about an overall pretty nice guy. Its important that people like this from baseball history don’t get forgotten, and McFarland has done a nice job of helping preserve his legacy by getting this to market.
Baseball seems to have a singular year every decade where they shoot themselves in the foot and the 60’s were no exception. Widely known for being the year of the pitcher, 1968 was the year the powers that be put their dunce caps on once again. This is a good look at what management was like back in the day and how that has changed as well. It also shows how baseball has been able to survive and rise above its own stupidity at times. You can get both of these from the nice folks at McFarland.
So ready or not the new baseball season is upon us, so no matter who you root for we are all in First Place at least for one day.
Happy Reading and Go Phillies!
Throughout baseball history there are some amazing stories. Stories that if you tried to have someone from Hollywood write it, the general public would never believe it was true. The down side to these stories is unless the are juicy and so far out of this world against the odds, they sometimes get lost to the annals of baseball history. One such story is the one involving Fred Hutchinson and the Reds of 1964. When one talks about 1964 the big story out of the National League is the collapse of the Philadelphia Phillies and how the St. Louis Cardinals when the dust settled were the National League champions. The third sister at the dance that year was the Cincinnati Reds and as the last day unfolded they were right there trying to win the pennant as well. In the end the Reds came up short but the fascinating underlying story of that team was that their manager was fighting terminal cancer the entire season. Hutchinson’s work for most of the year along with fill-in skipper Dick Sisler, got the Reds within one step of the World Series. While today’s book is not a new release, in my opinion it is an often overlooked story in baseball history that from time to time needs to be brought back to the forefront.
Doug Wilson for me is one of those writers that could write a phone book in such a way that I would find it interesting. His other works that I have been exposed to Brooks about Brooks Robinson and The Bird about Mark Fidrych are both top notch biographies and were reviewed on this site in previous posts. This book predates both of the other two books I mentioned above but I expected nothing but the same quality book from Wilson on this one. I am glad to report that I was not disappointed.
Doug Wilson starts out the book by giving a nice background on Fred Hutchinson. His personal background, his playing career, time spent managing in Seattle, Detroit and St. Louis showing how his baseball personality was shaped along the way. The book also shows us how the first few years Hutchinson spent shaping the Reds into contenders including an unexpected trip to the 1961 World Series. It also shows how he handled up and coming superstars such as Pete Rose and how he helped mold them into winners as well.
Obviously the biggest part of the book is spent discussing the 1964 season and how right before it Hutchinson was diagnosed with his terminal cancer. In December 1963 Hutchinson was diagnosed with his illness and from the start the prognosis was not good. 1964 from the start for the Cincinnati Reds was dedicated to the fight for the life of Fred Hutchinson and both he and his Reds fought a valiant fight from day one of the season. Unfortunately Fred Hutchinson’s health did not allow him to make it through the season and he was replaced by Dick Sisler. The Cinicnnati Reds fell a bit short on winning the N.L. Pennant for Hutch and subsequently he passed away a few weeks later.
It is a very compelling story from beginning to end and if it happened in todays world the outcome for Fred Hutchinson may have been very different as well as the media coverage given to his story. Disney would have grabbed on to it and made a movie out of it, Major League Baseball would have had an official business partner for it and we would have been inundated with lots of things regarding Hutch’s situation from Joe Buck each week on the national telecast. It is a perfect example as to how the business aspect of the game has changed and how they can and will use anything they find marketable.
Getting back to the book, Doug Wilson did a great job of sharing the story of Fred Hutchinson. It is a story that will eventually get lost to the annals of time, but nonetheless should be remembered. If this story was based in New York or Los Angeles I think the media play on it would have been much more, but Cincinnati was propbably just not flashy enough for the powers that be. Wilson gave the reader a real good look at the subject and while being a sad subject , turns it into an enjoyable experience for the reader. I would obviously recommend it to Reds fans, but all readers should check it out for the valuable history lesson contained within.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
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.
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
Some teams are able to creates dynasties, while others find the formula to success only once. The same amount of effort is put in by both teams, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out as planned. It is probably harder to repeat as Champions then to win the first one, just due to the overwhelming demands. Demands on time, personal appearances, team obligations, media interviews and the list goes on, because everyone wants a piece of the Champions. The 1990 Cincinnati Reds were one of those one and done teams. 1990 was a lightning in a bottle year for them and I have found a book that chronicles the whole season.
The 1990 Reds seem to be one of those team that gets lost in the shuffle. They led the league from the season opener to the final day. At the time, they became one of only three teams in the history of baseball at that time to do that. Then, they went on to sweep the heavily favored Oakland A’s in the World Series. It truly was a magical year for the Reds.
Erardi and Luckhaupt have written a book that takes a look at all the exciting moments in the 1990 Reds season. It shows all the highlights of the season that came their way, and how the team persevered a grueling baseball season to stay on top from beginning to end. The authors also take a look at all the personalities that made the Reds so special. Being led off the field by Sweet Lou Piniella, and on the field by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the Reds but something special together. Players like the Nasty Boys, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo and off field personalities like Marge Schott, gave this team a personality that the fans of Cincinnati fell in love with.
It seems to me that some of the World Champion Reds teams fall through the cracks of history. They never seem to get the recognition they deserve. I think it has happened a few times with the prior Reds championship teams. Perhaps it is their location in Cincinnati that allows them to be forgotten, I am not really sure.
Baseball fans should enjoy this book. It gives a nice review of the entire 1990 season for the Reds. I have a feeling at the time most of us were not necessarily paying attention to what the Reds were doing, so you can take a look at what we all missed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Clerisy Press
Certain places around Major League Baseball have been around since the birth of the league. Due to that fact, the history of those particular cities is deep. Thousands of people have been a part of the ran and file of that team, and helped create some amazing memories for their fans. The Cincinnati Reds have pretty much been around since day one, and contributed some defining moments to the game of baseball. Today’s book takes a look at some of those incredible moments in Reds team history.
When you have been in existence since 1869, where do you even start to define your greatest moments? Just by the sheer number of years you have been around you have more possible moments than everybody else. When you think about it the Cincinnati Reds have been around since almost the end of the Civil War. They are approaching 150 years in the league and are still on a daily basis making memories.
Greg Rhodes has compiled a book that was a monumental undertaking in my opinion. There are so many great moments over that near century and a half, that it has to be hard to narrow it down to just one book. The author breaks the book down into twenty year chapters. The initial chapter of the book covers the early years, 1866-1879 and then works in twenty year increments after that. Every section covers the who, what, when and why questions that have arisen in Reds history. It reviews the personalities that have graced the Reds, as well as major achievements on the field on both an individual and team level. It gives a good perspective of what the Reds have accomplished throughout their history.
If you are not Cincinnati Reds fan, or from that area, this book gives a good look at team history and player accomplishments. Many team books out on the market focus on one genre, and let some events or people fall through the cracks. This books make sure that the people and events that helped shape the team are not forgotten. You see names like Bucky Walters, Hugh Kritz and Clyde Shoun. While not Hall of Famers outside of Cincinnati, they have made big contributions to the team’s legacy. This book gives them their due and makes sure they don’t get lost in the passage of time.
I think books like these are important to fans. They are a nicely presented history lesson for the reader, and it makes sure that the people who contributed to the teams history are never forgotten. For other fans it may prove the Reds actually did exist before the birth of the Big Red Machine.
All fans that enjoy reading about history should read this book. It is very thorough in its team history from the beginning of the team, to its published date of 2007. It is presented so well, you won’t even realize you are learning something.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Clerisy Press
Being New Years Day, one tends to look back at the past. Sometimes it is the past year one reflects on, and for others you may want to reflect back on something over 50 years ago. In baseball history we have many seasons we get the chance to reflect on and honestly, I think that there are so many it makes it hard to choose. Todays book takes a look at one of those spectacular seasons for a team that is almost forgotten due to the success of their team in subsequent years.
Before the Machine-The Story of the 1961 Pennant-Winning Cincinnati Reds
By:Mark Schmetzer – 2011 Clerisy Press
The 1961 Reds on paper looked to be nothing spectacular. A mix of aging veterans and young up and comers were not expected to make any real noise on the field. Playing in an antiquated ball park and dealing with the death of their owner just days before the start of the season, things were not looking great for the team. But little did the fans of Cincinnati and the world of baseball know, this was going to be their year.
Mark Schmetzer takes readers on a journey through that great 1961 season. You see it from beginning to end, starting with the off-season and spring training, you see the pieces assembled that made up this team. Players that were brought in to fill holes became vital pieces in the success on the field. The book also takes you through each month of the season, showing the highs and lows of a grueling seven month season. Player injuries, slumps, and hot streaks are all contained in the book. It gives you a great look at team struggles and chemistry, that add up to make a successful team. There are tons of never before seen pictures in this book that add to the feeling that you are witnessing this team at a level higher than just a book. You also get to re-live the disappointment of the 1961 World Series at the hands of the New York Yankees. While it may not be a great event that their fans want to re-live, it gives a very comprehensive account of events on the field.
I often have felt this team gets overlooked in the annals of history. Primarily because of the multi-year success of the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine. When people think of the Reds success they automatically gravitate towards the teams of the Big Red Machine. Perhaps because it was their first year of success in such a long period of time, but it does seem that sometimes they just are plain old forgotten. The author has done a great job of making sure this team never gets forgotten.
All fans should enjoy this book. It does a nice job of covering the history of the team and that magical season in Cincinnati. Also, books like this are important because they make sure certain teams and pieces of history, do not fall through the cracks of time. It makes sure these teams are remembered for all future generations of fans to appreciate and enjoy.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Clerisy Press
Baseball history is all about the people, places and things. People make the history, the places add to the charm of the moment and the things, well………things happen! As fans, sometime we get the feeling we were born too late. We can find an era of baseball that really appeals to our inner fan. For some lucky fans their moment is in the present and for others it can be 100 years before they were born. Today’s book gives those fans the opportunity to live in those moments that they missed.
Cincinnati’s Crosley Field – The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark
By:Greg Rhodes & John Erardi-2009 Clerisy Press
When you are a fan of a particular team, the stadium almost becomes part of the game. From their unique dimensions, the sights, sounds and smells contained within to the time spent bonding with the stadium it almost becomes an old friend. These parks both new and old, have personalities all their own.
Authors Rhodes and Erardi have taken us back in time to visit with an old friend. Crosley Field was the home of the Cincinnati Reds for over 50 years. It was the site of some great moments in Reds baseball and of baseball history in general. They have created more than just a picture book of Crosley field. They have actually captured the personality and written the detailed story of a member of the Cincinnati family.
You not only get all the nuances that made Crosley Field a great place to go see a baseball game, you get so much more. You get stories about the fans that visited, the growth of the game and how it pertained to the stadium and how Crosley fit into the growing populace of the city. The character of the stadium and physical changes within are captured in this book as well. This is really a comprehensive history that brings the old girl back to life.
If you are a fan that has lost your old stadium due to the influx of new baseball palaces over the last 20 years, you should appreciate this book. The Reds may bot be your hometown team but we can all relate to losing the place we called home. I know as a Phillies fan, Veterans Stadium was my home away from home growing up. Quite honestly, it was a giant crap-hole……but it was our crap-hole. It has been reduced to rubble and is now a parking lot for the glorious new Citizens Bank Park. But when I think of some of my favorite memories with my Dad growing up, that old crap-hole comes back to life and will forever be a part of my life. This book has the same effect. If you were ever at a game there it will bring back great memories. If you were never there than this will paint a great picture of what the place was all about. Sometimes you can go home again……even if home is no longer there.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Clericy Press