I find it fascinating that within the history of baseball there are still forgotten Superstars. We have left no stone unturned in the documentation of the game, yet there are still players that do not get the respect or recognition they deserve. Napoleon Lajoie is one of those players that falls into this group. Yes he has gotten his plaque in Cooperstown and no one can take away his monster career numbers, but to me he always seems like an afterthought. Perhaps timing comes into play here, being a part of the same generation as some of the games premier immortals, forcing him out of the spotlight. Today’s book acknowledges his undeserved existence living in the shadows of the game’s bigger stars.
In all honesty, I know of Napoleon Lajoie and his great contributions to the game, but I am not very well read on him. I thought that was somewhat odd for a Hall of Famer, but after a little research I now know that there are not that many Lajoie bios’s on the market. So I was hoping with this book to learn a little bit more in depth about both the man and the player. I got some of what I wanted, but not all of it.
This book is not a beginning to end Napoleon Lajoie biography as it is billed. It is a series of anecdotes, poems, photos and other assorted bits that give the reader a very good feel for what baseball was like during this period. Now it also dedicated a good portion of the book to Napoleon Lajoie and his storied career as one would expect. How he was loved by his fans and how he lived his years after baseball. The final chapter of this book shares a conversation between Ty Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie on a warm Florida afternoon a few years before their respective deaths, which I found very interesting. It gave a brief glimpse of the immense pride of these two greats of the game.
The down side of this book for me was that this book was not a full Lajoie biography. It was an opportunity missed for new generations to learn in depth about an oft forgotten Hall of Fame career. My other pet peeve with this book was misspelled words and overall poor editing. Just a pet peeve that arises from time to time for me as an avid reader.
So in the end something is better than nothing at all. It didn’t give me enough of the Lajoie information that I was hoping for, but fans of this period should still enjoy it. Hopefully Lajoie is not one of those early superstars of the game who eventually fades into oblivion, as generations go by.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Stillwater River Publications
I have said this in one of my prior posts that I have the utmost respect for Bob Feller. His service to our country, his baseball career and the stand up guy he was, speak volumes about his character. While most of us don’t think much beyond his Hall of Fame career, he really was an incredible personality who was a great ambassador for the game. Feller has been the subject of, or involved in several books throughout his life so my first question upon seeing today’s book is why do we need another one now? One of my very first posts on this site was Bob Feller’s Little Black Baseball Book, and quite honestly I wasn’t all that impressed. So this book had me going into it questioning why it even existed.
I was hoping I was going to find some great insight into life and about baseball from this book that I may have missed in Feller’s Black Book. I thought maybe I was too hard on that book in the review I wrote and perhaps it was me as the reader, that was not connecting with that books message. Well, after reading two of these books, I am confident in saying……I am not the problem here.
Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom has really given the reader nothing more than the Black Book did. It is background on Feller’s childhood and how he had the greatest childhood ever. Nothing could ever top Feller’s skill or experiences on the field and in his own eyes he has lived a charmed life all of his own doing. At times the book comes off quite pretentious and somewhat overbearing.
I originally wondered why we needed this book, and I am now still wondering why. It is essentially a reworded version of the Black Book and doesn’t give the reader any new information. I realize the publication of the books is the good part of a decade apart, but it to me is essentially an updated volume of the black book. I have trouble recommending anyone who has Bob Feller’s Little Black Book to drop the money to pick up Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book. To me it is really just the same recycled stories and Feller patting himself on the back.
Indians fans who have a strong association with Bob Feller will enjoy it just because the hometown boy wrote a book. Fans in other cities should probably pick either the Blue Book or the Black Book because essentially you are getting the same product in a different color.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
In our busy daily lives its always fun and enjoyable to catch up with family and friends. Jobs, your own family and limited time and resources all play into the distance between us. When you are a baseball fan and spend eight months out of every year following your favorite team, you create a bond with the players. They almost become a part of our family in a sense that we know a lot about them and their personal lives. It creates a bond that grows stronger with time, but then one day their careers are over and they are gone. It creates a void in our lives that as the years go by makes fans wonder what they are doing now. For lucky Cleveland Indians fans, now you can see what your favorites of yesteryear are up to now.
This book is obviously a bit dated, but still a good resource for fans. Some of the 45 players interviewed for this book have since passed on, but it gives you a good feel for that individual players take on his own career and what happened after the spotlight burned out.
Russell Schneider picks 45 fan favorites, or as he likes to call them, the good old guys from the bad old days of the Cleveland Indians. Schneider does not just take the superstars from the Cleveland diamond, he also talks with those players who had very short careers with the Tribe. The one underlying theme in this book are these are definite fan favorites. Some of these players with marginal careers in the majors are still this day beloved by the fans in Cleveland.
From Ken Suarez and Eddie Leon to Jim Bibby and Super Joe Charboneau it gives a nice variety of personalities that got to call Cleveland home for a while. The author created this book from interviews with the former players and another theme holds true with them as well. Every one of them, no matter how bad the team was during their tenure, was proud to be a part of the Indians. It shows that even in the bad times, the pride a city and team can create for fans and players.
I think all baseball fans will like this one. Many of the players interviewed spent time outside of Cleveland so it will have a mass appeal to the fans of other teams. This book is a nice game of remember when, where you can catch up with some old friends that you haven’t heard from in a while.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Gray & Company Publishers
In my last post we talked about how a stadium becomes like part of the family. These stadiums, that we talk about, are usually gone. But today, we are going to look at how progress and moving on, is not always a bad thing when it comes to a ball park.
Jacobs Field – History & Tradition at the Jake
Vince McKee – 2014 The History Press
Moving to the other end of Ohio, we take a look at Jacobs Field. Replacing Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, the Indians ushered in a new era of baseball in 1994 with the opening of the Jake. A new state of the art facility that fans and players could now call home and put to rest the bleak memories of Municipal Stadium. It brought about new hope and promises for the team and fans alike.
Vince McKee takes a very nice look at the events that have happened in the first 20 seasons at the new palace in Cleveland. It brought an era of post season baseball and superstars wanting to call Cleveland home. The author did not only make this a good times book. He also takes a look at what happens when after a sustained period of success how a team has to rebuild. The tear down and rebuilding process is never a pleasant one. It shows how through free agency and trades how one era ends and another one begins in the hopes of getting even better.
You see the sights, sounds and people who have made memories for the fans in the Jake’s first twenty seasons. You see why the fans who call it home love it. You see the civic pride that is derived from having a park this nice to call home. In the end this book really shows how a city desperate to have a respectable stadium of its own has embraced their new baseball palace. Change is not always good in terms of a baseball stadium. In the case of the Cleveland Indians change was needed and created a boost to both the team itself and the fan base, and both were long overdue. Indians fans will enjoy this and probably wonder where the first twenty seasons at the Jake really went.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The History Press
Being a baseball fan you are always in a constant state of learning. Due to the age of baseball you can never know ALL of the history of the sport. The same thing can be said for the rules of our beloved game. No matter how much you think you have seen………you haven’t seen it all. Strange plays and circumstances may even stump the most seasoned fans out there. Well I found some help for those strange situations……….
Ask Hal – Answers to Fans’ Most Interesting Questions about Baseball Rules
Hal Lebovitz – 2007 Gray & Co Publishers
This book has been around for several years and I am surprised I have not heard more about it. The writings are a culmination of Hal’s articles in the Cleveland papers during his illustrious Hall of Fame career. Hal would respond to readers write-in questions about baseball rules and statistics and print the answers in his articles.
The book is separated into several sections addressing almost all of the positions on the field, along with hitting and umpiring. Some of the questions in the book are very basic. Others not so much, for example, foul balls. The book gives you thirteen different scenarios that are all possible on the field of play. Hal s dissects each one and gives the rational for the on-field call. Essentially this is baseball rules for dummies but is still covering the more complex plays. Due to the complexity of some of the rules, it will keep even the most seasoned fan interested.
If you have any interest in the rules, this book will keep you entertained. If you have some friends that you talk baseball with, this book is sure to start some debates as well. Scoring, base running, fair or foul it is all covered.
I was not very familiar with Hal Lebovitz or his writing before reading this book. I know he was a Hall of Fame inductee, but not living in Cleveland I never had any exposure to him. Now that I have read this book I have a new-found respect for Hal. His answers are well thought out, clear and concise. That style allows even the novice fan to understand his explanation of the rule.
This book is 180 pages of Hal’s lifetime worth of knowledge and analysis, rolled into one neat little package for the fans. It is definitely worth reading and keeping in your Baseball Bookcase.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Gray & Co Publishers