Some subjects, no matter how much time passes, will always be allowed to produce new information. The Black Sox scandal almost a century later is still raising questions among fans and historians alike. Now we have another book out on the market that helps put to rest some of the questions and clarify some of the finer points of the scandal.
Happy Felsch, was the veteran Center Fielder on that ill fated 1919 Chicago White Sox team. A man who was no stranger to battles with owner Charles Comisky and his penny pinching ways, Felsch was looking to get what he deserved financially from the game. Historians have been unsure if his participation was voluntary or out of fear of reprisal by local gamblers. Either way he was implicated in the throwing of the World Series.
Felsch was always the most vocal of the participants after the scandal broke and open to talking about it. Rathkamp’s book looks at a few of the interviews that Happy Felsch gave with some writers in subsequent years and attempts to connect the dots of the Black Sox scandal. It is a valiant attempt at something that has been attempted many times before.
What this book does is offer another point of view from one of those involved. We have several books on Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and those that analyze the course of events and the entire World Series, but not much more. For me it was nice to get a different perspective from a new player in this scandal. Through these interviews that occurred more than 50 years ago now, Felsch gives snippets of his view of the events and what transpired and to some degree why he was innocent.
Now here is my problem with the entire Black Sox scandal. We are at this point, working with documented history from almost a century ago. We are interpreting conversations and interviews that no one who walks this earth at this point were a part of and are putting our own spin on these events. Our spin being influenced by our current views and not those of a century ago. So are we really interpreting their comments as they intended? For that I am not so sure. But it takes each reader to interpret what this book offers to the end subject on their own. I myself like this book on its own, because it offers a new perspective on the subject, but I am starting to wonder when have we maxed out and learned all we will be able to about the Black Sox scandal?
If you are a fan of this era or the scandal itself, check the book out, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
There are few figures in baseball that were as polarizing as Dick Allen was during his career. Philadelphia fans maintained a blurry line between love and hate for Dick which helped forge his reputation that followed him from city to city. Allen was a bonafide superstar during his era, who some say never met his true potential. Multiple stops in his career ended in messes that were partially Dick’s fault but in hindsight not totally. There have not been many attempts at putting Dick Allen’s complete story in print, quite honestly, this is one of the few I have ever found in my travels. Now there is a new book coming out in a few weeks that gives a more in depth look at the man behind the legend.
Where does one even start when talking about Dick Allen? He is such a complex personality that has gotten so little attention since his retirement that it would seem overwhelming to any writer willing to tackle the subject. The prior book about Dick Allen as mentioned above relied on interviews with Allen himself. It presented some conflicting stories that made the reader feel like he did not get the whole story. This new book relies on interviews with some people who witnessed events first hand and gave a different perspective on everything that happened.
Nathanson walks the reader through Dick’s entire career, from the minors to all his stops in the majors. He shows the horrible treatment Allen endured in the south during his baseball training as well as the same racism he he had to put up with playing for Philadelphia. The author dissects the love hate relationship between Allen and the Phillies fans and shows his treatment may have been a part of the bigger mindset of the town itself, not just a personal dislike for Allen. On the flip side of the City of Philadelphia’s shortcomings you also get to see how Dick Allen did not make the situation better for himself along the way. Some things get clarified while other things may forever be a mystery. Neither party is innocent in the course of events but this book helps clarify the fact that the events that happened in Philadelphia were not all Dick Allen’s fault.
The author also covers all of the other stops along Dick’s career path. While each one had a mix of success and trouble, each one ended the same way, the team was glad to be moving on. The most interesting part to me of this book was the events that led up to Dick’s return to the Phillies. You see the change in the city’s mindset and team management that helped welcome Dick home for one last stand. You can see the healing on both sides and the change of attitudes. To some extent I think the Phillies fans realized what they once had and to some degree were willing to make amends for past indiscretions. This also allowed Dick to leave baseball on his own terms and finish up with the Oakland A’s. The only thing I wish this book had was more about Dick on a personal level. It mostly sticks to his career, but does offer a few glimpses behind the scenes. I wold like to know more about Dick Allen the person, but few of us will ever be so lucky.
This book really sheds some light on Dick Allen and the events of his career. There are plenty of things that transpired that fans, owners, management and Dick himself should not be so proud of, but it does give a complete picture of what happened during those times. All that aside, the most recent question as of late is does Dick belong in the Hall of Fame. If you remove the Phillies association out of the equation for me, I still say yes to his induction. He was a major player in the 60’s and 70’s and made some great contributions to the game on the field and contributed some great things of the field when he mentored younger players. His introverted personality may have rubbed some people the wrong way at the time, but it still not diminish his contributions to the game. Hopefully the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will get it right the next time around.
Baseball fans should not miss this book. It is a player that never has gotten much book coverage and it really sheds new light on what we all thought about Dick Allen.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pennsylvania Press
There are certain moments in baseball history that transcend time. The team, the year and the location are of little consequence, but that moment stays fresh in everyone’s mind forever. For me, one of those moments is Carlton Fisk’s home run in Fenway Park during Game Six of the 1975 World Series. It is one of the most iconic moments in the history of the game, and possibly the one thing Carlton Fisk is most famous for. What else do we really know about Fisk though? Everyone is familiar with his playing career and the numbers he put up during his Hall of Fame career, but how much do we really know about his personality? Recently a book has been published that gives an inside look at the Hall of Fame slugger.
To me for some reason, Carlton Fisk is one of those Hall of Famers that hides in the shadows. When you think of the Hall of Fame he is not the first person that comes to mind. Perhaps it is because his lone World Series was in 1975, or maybe its his calm and steady demeanor that relegates him to the background. Whatever the reason may be, he is truly worthy of his place in Cooperstown and Doug Wilson has done a really nice job of walking the reader behind the curtain that is Carlton Fisk.
A man of great integrity that came from a strong New England upbringing, Fisk is portrayed as a pillar of character and personal strength. The author takes readers on a journey through Fisk’s growing up and forging the character that is a staple of his personality. You also get to see his debut in the majors and how he came to be a respected catcher and dedicated teammate. Obviously this book would not even be close to complete without getting the inside story on the World Series Home Run. It does a very nice job of showing the true story of Fisk’s time in Boston. It shows the behind the scenes struggles with team management that ultimately led to the home-grown slugger heading to Chicago.
His time in Chicago and life after baseball for Fisk is also covered very nicely here. It does show a complete picture of Fisk’s career. It also lends a personal side to the Catcher that is not something I have come across before. It was nice to see a book that focused on the person, instead of just the Home Run in 1975.
Doug Wilson always does a nice job with his books. They are not overly flashy, but are always well researched and the subjects are usually ones that are lacking in other coverage. His three other books that are out there do a nice job as well of covering their subject matter. In my opinion Doug Wilson is becoming one of the better baseball biographers of this era.
All baseball fans should check this one out. We are all familiar with the player and now its time to get to know the man behind the Catcher’s mask.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Thomas Dunne Books