Tagged: connie mack

Sports Publishing Coming Through for Baseball Fans


We have seen in the last few posts how certain publishers focus on baseball fans and really provide a great selection for them.  As we head into the pending long, hard winter, I figured it is always a good idea to showcase a few more publishers that take care of the fans and get us to our awaited destination, the first pitch of Spring.  Sports publishing has long been a staple of baseball book publishers and offers a diverse catalog for fans.  They offer multiple sports, but for me it’s all baseball or bust.  Historical, team related, biographical, new release or not, there always is something that fans can find that will appeal to everyone.

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By:Rich Westcott-2014

While this is not a new release, it still is a great look at the most vital position on the field, the Pitcher.  By going through the entire history of baseball, Westcott gives the reader some of the most memorable feats performed by Pitchers.  Heroes of the game such as Waddell, Chesbro, Cy Young and Mathewson through modern day greats like Ryan, Seaver, Carlton, Maddux and Randy Johnson all get their due.  It is a nice mix of various pitching accomplishments that have help build the history of the game.  51 chapters covering one position is a lot of memorable feats for the reader, and also introduces them to some not so mainstream stories.  Check this book out if you want to expand your knowledge of the game’s history and see the value that the Pitcher has added to our great game.

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By: Shifrin & Shea-2016

Lets face it, the Home Run is one of the coolest aspects of the game.  It can change the entire momentum of a game, series or even a season.  There is a reason we keep so many Home Run records and why we still are arguing who is the real Home Run King.  There are easily more than 101 home runs that one can call to mind but this is one of those books that narrows it to a certain number.  The one thing the reader has to remember is that they will not always agree with the 101 that were picked.  So it offers some debate material for you and your friends to discuss over a few beers, but in the end, everyone’s list will be different.  The authors give a nice sampling of Homers and it allows the readers to re-live some of the greatest moments in the game’s history.  But in the end, someone, somewhere is going to disagree with at least 1/3 of the picks.  So keep an open mind going into this one.

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By:David Finoli-2016

There was a post in a Facebook group this week asking about this series of books.  It is a very interesting series that puts a unique spin on your favorite team.  The Pittsburgh Pirates book above is the latest in the series and offers you the worst players to wear certain uniform numbers, statistics and history base off the numbers as well as first home runs by certain numbers.  There are so many various things they offer related to the numbers that it is almost impossible not to enjoy these books.  If you are a fan of a certain team you will enjoy this series immensely.  Check out Sports Publishing’s web site for their other team offerings.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2016

We are all familiar with the Black Sox scandal of 1919 so no need to rehash it here.  I tend to shy away from the Joe Jackson books at this point because I am not really sure if I am going to get anything new from reading another one.  Well I am glad to say Hornbaker has given me a more complete picture of Joe Jackson than I ever had before.  He looks at his time prior to joining the Chicago White Sox and his career blossoming career in Cleveland.  It paints a much broader picture of the center focal point of the Black Sox scandal and an further understanding of the real Joe Jackson.  No matter what side of the scandal you sit on, this book is worth taking a look at.  It provides some new perspectives of all events of Jackson’s career and life.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2015

I wonder honestly if Ty Cobb gets more coverage now than he did while he was alive.  He also is a very tough market to write a book during the last few years.  Hornbaker’s book is another in a long line of recent Cobb themed books and like his Joe Jackson book provides a different perspective on the Hall of Famer.  As always it is up to the reader to decide what is fact and what is legend, but the author does an admirable job at presenting alternative truths about Cobb.  It is worth the time to read but in the end, the reader has to make the decision which one of the Cobb books presents the most truth.  After all the books, both fact and fiction,  that have addressed Cobb, it is going to be hard for readers to ever figure out what Cobb’s true story actually is.

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By:Rich Westcott-2016

Finally, we take a look at one of my hometown favorites.  This book covers more than just baseball and usually I don’t touch these book on here,(see my disclaimer above), but hey……….it’s Philly!  It takes a thorough look at Philadelphia and the Championships we have been lucky enough to celebrate through the years.  Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey are covered as well as showing the transition from a town built on Dynasties to a town laden in a Championship drought for so many years.  It events like these that helped shaped me as the sports fan I am today.  It also shows that the Philly fans may not be as bad as we are always portrayed.

Take the time to check the books out on Sports Publishing’s website.  They have these and many other great baseball books that are sure to please everyone.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

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Another Batch From McFarland That is Sure to Please


A few weeks ago we looked at a new batch of books recently published by McFarland.  I touched on the obscure factor that some of their books tend to embrace and how they fill a niche spot in the baseball book market.  Today we are going to look at a few more because honestly McFarland has a little something for every baseball fan.

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By:Richard Bressler-2016

McFarland is always willing to publish team history books.  Looking at both the powerhouse teams that are part of the baseball fabric as well as those that time has essentially forgotten.  The year 1910 was an interesting point for the two teams involved in this volume and shows how it laid the groundwork for a streak that lasts to this day.

The 1910 World Series brought us the end of one dynasty and the birth of another.  The Chicago Cubs, coming off several very successful years and a win in the 1908 series were nearing the end of their reign.  While Connie Mack’s Athletics were poised to start a championship run of their own.  It was a fairly anti-climatic Series, but did offer an interesting historical note.  For the first time in World Series history, game two to be precise, was the first time all nine starters recorded a hit in the same game.  Its a neat little trivia factoid you can now impress all your friends with.

This is a timely book with the Cubs poised to possibly end their World Series drought and also it allows the reader to travel back in time to see an entirely different generation of the game.  Fans of either of these teams or of this era, will not be disappointed in this one.

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By:Jeremy Lehrman-2016

This one takes a look at the history of the Most Valuable player award in Baseball.  It looks at the voting results and provides current statistical analysis to see what may have been different by todays standards.

It is an interesting view as at what may have been overlooked by voters in the past as well as what other factors may have played into the voting results.  It also shows how race may have been an underlying issue on some of the ballots.  The book is a good mix of history, commentary and statistical analysis.  For fans of these types of “what did we miss books”  this is another one you will really enjoy.

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By:Brian Martin-2016

Finally, as the title says, Pud Galvin, not only the owner of an odd name was baseball’s first 300 game winner.  Enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965, 63 years after his death, his numerous records and 300+ wins still did not keep him from dying penniless.  One of the first real superstars of the game he had some amazing accomplishments on the field and helped grow the credibility of the early game.

One of the other footnotes to Galvin’s story is he may have been the first user of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Major League Baseball.  An advocate of using a monkey testosterone elixir, it seemed to enhance his on field performance.  The difference from today to over 100 years ago is that everyone was on board with the use of the concoction.  It shows a very different time in Baseball and quite honestly is a very interesting story for fans of the early eras of baseball.

You can check out these books and other great titles offered by this publisher at the following link:

McFarland

Happy Reading

Gregg

Wonder Boy – The Story of Carl Scheib


In my opinion, the arena of Baseball books is in no way an exact science.  There is no rhyme or reason as to what person an author chooses to write about, or which players decide I want to write my own book.  It leaves readers with endless choices and multiple avenues to pursue their favorite subjects.  With all of these choices,  readers may get led down a road that they will regret in the end.  As I have always said, nobody wants to waste time on a bad book.  I wonder which side of the fence today’s book falls into?

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By:Lawrence Knorr-2016

Carl Scheib is not a household name like Pete Rose or Babe Ruth, but he did have a professional career playing for both the Philadelphia Athletics and St Louis Cardinals.  Not being Cy Young reincarnated on the mound led me to believe that this book was going to focus more on his personality and less on his lack of pitching prowess. Well……. I was wrong.

Wonder Boy is very heavy in game by game details of Carl Scheib’s professional career.  When I say heavy I mean HEAVY!  After the first few chapters that give you the standard background on the player, family friends, schooling home life etc., it jumps right into his career.  Each chapter tends to cover a full season showing the highlights and lowlights of that year for Scheib.  It also tries to mix in a bit of personal information about Carl in each year but seemed forced and unnatural.

Books about a player from Connie Mack’s A’s, let alone near the end of his regime do not seem like popular subjects.  Probably because the team at that point was operated on such a shoe string budget that the quality of players was not that good.  Which then led to no one really taking an interest in most of the players on a personal level.  It is a double edged sword for the Athletics players in Philadelphia during this era.

If you really, really want to find out information on Carl Scheib this is your only resource right now.  It does offer some personal insight into the man and the player and gives the reader some stories about a man who will eventually be forgotten to time because he played for one of those horrible Connie Mack teams.  Unfortunately for my taste, this book relies to much on game day play by play to fill its pages.

As always, I leave it to you the reader to check it out and see if you agree with me or not, you can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press

Wonder Boy

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Characters from the Diamond-Wild, Crazy and Unique Tales from Early Baseball


I have been sticking to the theme of Pre-World War II baseball reading lately.  I have been lucky enough to find some more material about that era and  I have realized that it is a large deficiency in my baseball education.  My knowledge hole if you want to call it that, starts in the late 19th century and ends in the late 1920’s or so.  Today’s book falls right in the middle of that time frame and allows me to gain some serious knowledge of the era.

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By Ronald T. Waldo-2016

Ronald T. Waldo has brought forth another winner in this era.  For fans of early baseball he has produced a compilation of some great stories of baseball’s early years.  From the games greats like Ty Cobb, and then the games not so greats like Arthur Evans, the author has regaled the reader with some very entertaining stories.  He also does go beyond just the players.  He includes Umpires, Owners and often forgotten names from this unique era in baseball history.

Characters from the Diamond paints a unique picture of what baseball was really like during its early years.  Perhaps during this era baseball was keeping more in-line with its original roots as being a form of relaxation and fun for the players and the masses.  This is in contrast to the mega business powerhouse it is today.  The picture this book paints helps keep a unique era in baseball’s history preserved in print, so as time marches on fans of the game will realize where the sport came from and how we got to where we are now at today.

Author Ronald T. Waldo has really found his niche in this era.  From his previously published books and now including this one he has undertaken measurable tasks with his books.  He is working in an era that very few players, if any are still alive.  Even people who witnessed the end of this era are few and far between, so he is trying to compile stories in the fourth and fifth person down the line.  That is a monumental task for a writer.  The pressure involved with fact checking and putting your name on the line that you got the story correct is monumental.  As one is reading Waldo’s work you get the feel that the research is thorough and you are getting the complete story.  That is both a compliment to his dedication and writing style.  This is a very hard era to make the reader feel like they are actually there, but Ronald T. Waldo pulls it off. The main reason being that between alcohol and gambling alone the game of baseball on and off of the field is such a different game than what we are used to.

Baseball fans should take the time to check this one out.  It is a great history lesson for everyone, and an era where a few laughs up until now have been hard to find.  It is also important for everyone to see where we have come from and be able to appreciate what we now have on the field.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield

Characters from the Diamond

Happy Reading

Gregg

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

 

 

Tales From the Deadball Era-Some of the Wildest Times in Baseball History


Nostalgia is a dangerous thing.  If not used correctly it can skew the memories of people, times and places of bygone eras.  It can make one think and long for something that in hindsight we believe was much better than it really was.  Since Baseball has been around for almost a century and a half, there are many eras that none of use were able to witness first hand.  We rely on history books, the research of many and documentation to see what really happened.  The Deadball era is one that many people have a fondness for and like to learn about it as much as they can.  I recently found a book that allows those Deadball era lovers to get some inside stories of what the game was really like during that time, without succumbing to all that messy nostalgia.

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By: Mark Halfon – 2014

Tales From the Deadball Era allows readers to do some time traveling if you will.  It takes them back to when violence, segregation and gambling were some of the nicer things happening at the baseball games.  A time when fields were in disrepair, equipment was unsophisticated and quite honestly the final product was somewhat of a mess.  It was nothing like the showcase we get to witness on a daily basis today.

Halfon introduces us to some of the major events of the era.  Showing us these highlights along with some of the great personalities ever to play the game, he gives the reader a very complete picture of what was going on during this era.  He also shows some of the more lighthearted moments that infiltrated the game during that period.  Many of these things you would not even dream of as being part of the game today.  The book also shows how necessity is the mother of invention.  Things we normally accept as part of the game had to come from somewhere, and this book shows us those things we should all be thankful for.

If you fancy yourself a novice baseball historian this book is a good book for you.  It gives the reader a nice feel for this time period and will leave you wanting to find out more information about the Deadball era and its personalities.  If you fancy yourself a novice historian on the John Thorn level then you may want to stay away from this one.  If you are at that level you more than likely wont get any new information from this book.  Honestly most fans will enjoy reading this book and spending the time traveling back to these decades long ago.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Potomac Books

Tales From the Deadball Era

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Connie Mack-A Life Well Chronicled


I have said in the past there are certain personalities that transcend the game itself. Usually they are players that fall into this category, mainly because of their own field exposure.  There are always exceptions to that rule and easily Connie Mack is one of them. The Grand Old Man of Baseball is one of the patriarchs of the game and through all time is a name that will be known to all.  A person who had an entirely different contribution to the game as Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, but still a name that is just as recognizable as many of the games greats.  Norman L. Macht has recently completed his third installment of his Connie Mack trilogy and it completes in print the life of one of baseballs true pioneers.

 

Obviously I read a lot of books, but no series of books I have ever come across has made me go WOW!, like this one has.  The first volume of this set was published in 2007 with subsequent volumes in 2012 and 2015 respectively.  All three book take a look at a specific portion of Connie Mack’s life and the events that helped shape his life and career.  These books show how he forged his personality and the steps he had taken to amass his baseball empire.  Each book also shows the baseball dealings he conducted on a daily basis, how he constructed teams and eventually dismantled teams to pay the teams bills.  Various financial struggles are addressed throughout the years, power struggles within team ownership and family infighting that eventually led to the final downfall and removal of the Athletics from Philadelphia.

Norman L. Macht has dedicated a good portion of his life to this project.  Starting in 1985 the research he did was in depth and led him essentially to every location Connie Mack ever stepped foot.  He spoke to as many people who were friends, colleagues or family of Connie Mack and got the inside scoop on what the man was really like.  The amount of time and research that was dedicated to this project is just mind blowing to me.  I can’t imagine dedicating three decades to one subject and then being able to narrow it down to only 2,000 pages of details for a publisher.  Usually, most publishers would shy away from a multi volume biography anyway.

For me growing up in Philadelphia there were always a lot of stories floating around.  From just having the local ties and being a fixture in the city itself to the part that my Grandfather put a roof on his house in the late 40’s, Connie Mack for me was always an intriguing figure.  This book dispels a lot of the myth’s that I had accepted as fact about Mack.  Through the stories you hear growing up in Philadelphia, many of them you just accept as fact and don’t dedicate the time to looking for the truth.  He truly was one of the games great owners and we will never see another one like him.  In reality how many owners have a rival team name their stadium after your team leaves town, as the Phillies did out of respect for Mack.  The respect that people had for him was astounding, so much so that as of my last conversation with Bobby Shantz about a year or so ago, he still referrs to him as Mr. Mack, over 60 years after his death.

Baseball fans should really check these books out.  They are a vast wealth of knowledge for the fans of a very popular subject of the game that has not had many books dedicated to him.  Norman L. Macht should be commended, and rightly so, on a great job writing these three  books and completing his 30 year journey to show fans the real Cornelius McGillicuddy.

You can get these books from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

Connie Mack

Happy Reading

Gregg