Well, I will admit it, I am a lousy Blogger. Time management is not my strength when it comes to blogging, but nonetheless I have returned to try to catch up on some books. What better time than now, it being Hall of Fame induction weekend, to catch up on some HOF books so without further comment, lets dive right in.
Released earlier this year to conveniently coincide with his induction this year, this book takes a hard look at both Raines’ life and career in his own words. It comes across as an honest and open account of his own life. He admits many of his mistakes along the way and how he has tried to make amends to those he hurt. It also opened my eyes to some of the numbers Raines put up in some of his seasons. To me he always blended into the scenery of the N.L. East and always looked good but never seemed as good as he turned out to be. If you have an interest in the Montreal Expos, or like Tim Raines, you will really enjoy this book from Triumph Publishing. I for one am glad that he finally got his due, Congrats Tim!
Last summers inductee Mike Piazza got his own book this year as well. The book does cover his whole career but really shows the reader why he is in Cooperstown wearing a Mets cap. It shows the love between Mets fans and Piazza and why he meant so much to them even though he played for other teams. Greg Prince always brings his A-Game to his books and this is no exception, Mets fans, Piazza fans and even those in Philadelphia will enjoy the story of this local kid who made good. You can get this one from Sports Publishing.
Kaplan’s new book brings an interesting look at a single season of Hank’s storied career. It’s easily one of the strongest years of his career and it shows the trials and tribulations hank endured while chasing the Babe’s single season home run record. I think this is a rather hard subject to try to unearth so many years later but Kaplan does an admirable job at it and if you have an interest in this period of baseball or the social problems that came along with being Jewish you will enjoy this book. It also proves that Jackie Robinson was not the only one enduring slurs on the field during that era. This is another one you can get from Sports Publishing.
This is someone who should be already in the hall, but keeps getting overlooked. This book is very unique in that it contains tons of pictures. It shows great images of Allen throughout his entire life and the text that accompanies it with in the book is top-notch. Its different from any other Dick Allen book on the market so it is worth checking out if you like Dick Allen. You can grab this one from Schiffer Publishing.
I think Alan Trammell will someday be up on that stage getting his plaque in Cooperstown, but until that time all his fans have is this lone book. Trammell is an often overlooked subject but I have never been able to figure out why. This is the only book I have ever been able to find on him, but it is thorough and well written and gives his fans a chance to relive his one day Hall of Fame career. Sometime all you need is one book, as long as it is good, so for Trammell fans and Tigers fans of this era this is your book. You can pick this one up from McFarland Publishing
Finally, Clemens is an often covered subject and one day I have a gut feeling he will make the Hall regardless of past sins. That being said this book attempts to sum up all of the Roger Clemens events throughout his career and after. It is a one stop shop if you will for Clemens fans and sums everything up as neatly as it can, as opposed to other books that take one aspect of the proceedings and focus on it. If you are a Clemens fan or of the PED era, check this one from McFarland out.
That sums up this years Hall review and hopefully going forward I will be here more often, but until then…..Happy Reading!
It’s the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 Induction day today. The one day a year where that sleepy little hamlet in upstate New York looks like Times Square at 11:59 p.m. on New Years Eve. As I watched the speeches of the new members today I took notice as the MLB Network panned around the field, of all the diverse people in attendance. Family, former players, members of the Hall and of course, the people who honestly make this great game possible through their support, the fans. Different people from different generations, backgrounds and paths in life all come together for one day and celebrate the greatness of our game. On days like this you never know who is going to be in the crowd but you can be sure its an interesting mix of fans and baseball history. For the reason of diversity and in honor of Induction day, we are going to look at a very diverse group of books that are currently available in the market and why you should check them out.
1-When the Braves Ruled the Diamond-14 Flags Over Atlanta
Take some time to reminisce about the Atlanta Braves. People can say that the Yankees were the team of the 90’s because of their championships, but honestly who was the one team that you was sure was going to be in post season play? Yes, these Braves! It is a fun look at what made these N.L. East destroying teams from Atlanta repeat year after year after year. The only thing that stood in their way in one magical year or their run was my Phillies in 1993. As with Schlossberg’s other books, this one is time well spent re-living the magical ride of the Atlanta Braves.
2-Tony C.-The Triumph and Tragedy of Tony Conigliaro
This one is a new edition by a new publisher of the 1997 release under the same name. While not a new book, it is a reminder of the tragedy that can plague our game. A beloved hero in Boston whose career and life was cut tragically short. A career full of promise and from most accounts a pretty interesting guy off the field as well, this book chronicles the story of Tony C. and what he meant to the Fenway Faithful. I read this when it first came out about 20 years ago and really enjoyed reading it through the fresh edition from Summer Game Books. Another book that will easily get you through the remaining dog days of Summer.
3-A Life Lived-The Story of William “Bill” Blair
A very inspiring story of a former Negro League player and his life after baseball. A short book that comes in under 90 pages but still tells the inspiring story of William ” Bill” Blair and how he spent his life after baseball giving back to his hometown community. A great story of a man who never forgot where he came from and how baseball inspired him his whole life through. A quick read, but well worth the time.
4-Last Train to Cooperstown
Author Kevin Mitchell takes a look at the inadvertent but probably final class of Negro League inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. The book offers thorough profiles on each of the chosen few and what their contributions to the game were. He also offers a conclusion as to what may occur with others from the Negro Leagues in the future. Its very good insight into this well deserved class of Negro Leaguers that made the hall in 2006.
5-Tales From the San Francisco Giants Dugout
An updated and re-release of previous versions, this new issue adds some new stories and anecdotes about the Giants and their fans. If you are a fan of this team you will not want to miss this book. There also are the same books available for almost every other team out there, so check Sports Publishing’s website if you are looking for another team. These books are always a good time for the reader.
6-The Tigers and Yankees in ’61
Another magical year in baseball history is showcased in this one. A hard fought pennant race, the chase to make history for teammates and a few star players who had career years. The Yankees are getting near the end of their dominating years in this one but does show the reader what the American League landscape looked like during this era. If you are a fan of this era and a fan of the types of books McFarland publishes as well, then this is a book you will not want to miss.
7-A Band of Misfits-Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants-Triumph Books
8-The Fightin’ Phillies-100 Years of Phillies Baseball-Triumph Books
I group these together because while the may be different, they have very strong similarities. The both cover a specific team and give important anecdotes and stories about their histories. Whether they are covering one specific season or a full century worth of that teams stories, they are entertaining for fans of the respective teams. The only warning I give readers on these types of books is to go into them realizing these are the same stories you have probably heard 100 times over. You will probably get no new stories out of these, but they are good for reminiscing about your favorite team.
9-Jackie Robinson-An Integrated Life
Another perspective on the groundbreaking life of Jackie Robinson. We are all familiar with the story, but instead of taking it from a baseball point of view, it shows the results from a social impact perspective. It puts a different spin on the whole Jackie Robinson story and adds new insights to the entire story. Jackie Robinson’s admirable legacy is about so much more than just baseball, and this is only one of the many different angles.
10-Out of Left Field-Jews and Black Baseball
Another book that takes a look at the social impact a baseball team had on our world. This one takes a look at how a team made up of black Jews made a name for themselves in the Negro Leagues. It shows how they were able to further the cause of the Negro Leagues and help promote social justices. It was a bit of history I had no idea about and a very good learning experience for me. If you have any sort of interest in the Negro Leagues then check this one out.
11-The Cardinals Way
The Cardinals have come to be America’s team. I am not really sure how that happened, but they have through their history churned out some great moments and players that will be remembered for decades to come. By embracing that history and tradition as well as the new theories such as Moneyball, they have become a baseball powerhouse. It shows how combining old and new methods of thinking can have positive outcomes. I am thinking you will see more and more teams following this ideology in the future.
12-The Knuckleball Club
An in depth look at the most confounding pitch ever to grace the game of baseball. The who’s, whats and why’s of this quirky pitch are covered in this book. It also shares the stories of the Pitchers and Catchers who shared the success of the weird and wild pitch. This is the first book I have found that has shown how it fits into the fabric of the game, and is great knowledge for the average baseball fan. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
13-The Games That Changed Baseball-Milestones in Major League History
This book takes a look at some very important games throughout history. Dissecting what happened and what made them so important. While I do not agree with 100 percent of their picks, all of them were well researched and presented. Fans should check out this book and see if they agree with all of the authors picks. It does introduce some games that would probably create some very spirited debates among fans and friends.
Finally, after we got through all of these books today, I wanted to say a word of thanks to everyone who reads my blog. We have reached our second anniversary and have read a lot of books together up to this point. I do the best I can since this is a hobby and not my job and try and turn out material as quickly as possible. With the pending arrival of our first bundle of joy in the next few weeks, year #3 will be a challenge but I will still find a way to get some posts done. I thank all of you who have sent me books and allowed me to read them and post reviews. Also to the folks that read my posts because without you, there would be no reason to write them. Finally if you have sent me a book recently and I have not posted it yet, don’t worry you are not forgotten. I am a little behind for the reasons stated above but you will not be forgotten, please just be patient. Thank you to all again and looking forward to year #3.
Baseball is a game that offers something for everyone. It caters to varying tastes and personalities, while offering satisfaction for everyone who enjoys the game. Each person wants to experience the game on their own terms and get whatever level of enjoyment that satisfies them personally, and that is perfectly alright with the baseball gods. Tim Kurkjian has spent his professional life following baseball and has once again given us more reasons to love the game we all enjoy.
I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies offers a unique look at various aspects of the game of baseball. From sounds and rules to superstitions and various quirks, this book gives the reader a glimpse behind the curtain of the mental part of the game itself off the field. It is not something you find often in a baseball book authored by a game reporter.
Under no circumstances is this book to be considered heavy lifting in the literary realm. It is a light and breezy book that moves the reader through the anecdotes quickly. Some of the stories you may recognize as having been mentioned in other books, but they still fit nicely within the confines of this book. If you are looking for a strong literary masterpiece you came to the wrong place with this one, but it really does lend it self to an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon of reading. I mean really where else would we find out why Pete Rose left federal prison and went right to a batting cage.
I tend to shy away from books like this because I don’t always trust what I am getting from certain other authors. With Tim Kurkjian I always get what I expect from his books. His enthusiasm and love of the game always shine through and make the stories enjoyable and add some extra credence to them as well.
Like I said above, there is no heavy lifting with this one. And quite honestly, as many books as I read in a year, a book like this is welcome sight. It reminds the reader of the fun and quirky side of the game as opposed to the big business and on high stress persona it portrays so often. It also gives the mind a break while allowing me to still stay in the baseball realm.
Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed. It is honestly a couple hours well spent with your favorite sport.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Martins Press
With this week’s Hall of Fame vote finally announced, you get to see how many truly amazing players that played the game. Every year we fight about the superstars and who deserves to be enshrined this year. Beyond these greats are the people who are the backbone of the game. The good and borderline great players who are not Hall worthy but still had really good careers. There are also the people who had solid days on the field but were honestly nothing memorable otherwise. For every Hall of Fame caliber player there are hundreds of other players that fell below them in the grand scheme of the game. It is important that history does not forget these types of players. Through their hard work and dedication they have helped forge the story of baseball. Today’s book takes a look at one of those players that had a good career, that while not Hall worthy, still was good enough to be respected and admired by various generations.
I went into this book only familiar with Swish Nicholson’s time with the Philadelphia Phillies. A member of the beloved Whiz Kids, he was a name that Phillies fans were accustomed to hearing as one of the Philly greats. It turns out before Bill ever stopped in my hometown, he had a really incredible career in the Windy City with the Cubs, but was hindered by the fact that his prime was during the height of World War II. Being a wartime slugger discounted his achievements on the field because the rest of the world felt all the best players were off serving in the military. This fact created the perception of Swish Nicholson’s career as not being as good as his numbers portrayed, because the competition was not up to its normal MLB standard.
This book makes a very solid attempt at showing Nicholson’s career in the correct light it deserves. It gives a lot of background on his personal life and growing up in the early 20th century. The book gives the reader a real feel of what Bill Nicholson was like off the field, as well as what kind of exceptional player he was on it. This book also shows life after baseball and with older players, I find it interesting to see their transition back into regular life. It is so different than what modern players have to go through. It has to be very hard to go from being a star on the field to a regular guy working 9 to 5 and punching a clock.
Book like this are important in that they keep the memories of players whom may not have been Hall of Fame worthy alive in the minds of baseball fans. Books like this bring the past back to life and show readers various eras of the game they have only heard of through stories of older generations. Fans should check out Swish Nicholson, it is one of those books that is both entertaining and educational for everyone.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
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
Choosing the best of the best can really ignite some serious debates. Who belongs, who doesn’t, who should be eligible and who should not even be there always makes for good conversations among friends. The Baseball Hall of Fame, which is nestled in that sleepy little town in upstate New York, is the mecca of baseball junkies. You can walk among some of the greatest artifacts throughout the history of the game as well as visiting the memorials to all the games brightest stars. If you are not lucky enough to be located within a reasonable distance of the Hall like I am (2 hours), then you may not be able to get there as often as you would like or even at all for that matter. I found a book, if you are one of the unlucky few that may never get there that will help you experience some of the magical aura that is The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Baseball Hall of Fame has really published a first-rate book with this one. The quality of the book alone is incredible. From the paper stock, to the printing this is a really nice book. Quality of the book is something I really never comment on, but this one is really that good.
The Hall has compiled all its members, including managers, executives and umpires and given the reader in-depth overviews of every single person. Each player section is broken down by position into its own chapter and then sorted by induction year. It has dedicated two pages to each personality and gives a nice biography of their career as well as a brief snippet of that persons unique personality. It is a nice feature for each person that you don’t always get in these types of books, because it is usually more focused on the career numbers. Each person’s Hall of Fame plaque also heads their individual page so you are able to read exactly what is hanging on the wall in Cooperstown.
The other nice feature is a several page essay at the beginning of each chapter. A player from that chapter has written about his own experiences during his career that led him to The Hall of Fame. It is something you don’t normally see in a Hall of Fame coffee table book and adds a real human touch to this book. I think the Hall of Fame sometimes lacks a human touch when speaking about its members, so this brings it back to a very personal and fan friendly level.
This book covers all the players that were enshrined as of the publication date. The only down side to these types of books is that they are not accurate for very long. Once the next July rolls around someone is missing. But honestly this book is done so well it should belong in every fan’s library. You may be familiar with some of the names, but there are others that are a real learning experience for fans young and old.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Little Brown and Company
The Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions are complete. The old members have all stopped by Cooperstown and waved to the fans, welcoming this years class of immortals. The old stories have been swapped, photos have been taken and another year has come and gone of happy times in Cooperstown, Now we look forward to the debates and arguments that will ensue regarding the next class to be enshrined. One of the more interesting personalities that was part of this years class, is Pedro Martinez. Pedro came out with a new autobiography this year and it has brought varying degrees of response from the masses, so I figured I should check it out for my blog.
My first reaction when I heard the release date of this book was, how ironic it was coming out in his Hall of Fame year. I guess good marketing strategies never sleep. Pedro had always been a source of controversy to some degree during his career. Early in his career he picked up the label of head hunter, mainly due to his pitching inside and making sure the batter knew who owned the plate. For the record I have no problem with that, it is a part of the game that has disappeared through the last few decades and probably something that should find a way to return. Pedro also had a well-remembered battle with Don Zimmer one time that might have made some highlight films on a few stations. But on the field it was hard to deny Pedro was an incredible competitor, No matter where he played you could always see his skill and desire, but now this book gives you the personal side of Pedro.
If you listen to interviews with Pedro, he his a big fan of himself and in this book, he has no reservations in telling you why. From his on field play, to those people around him Pedro is a guy that demands respect from people and it seems he is not one to shy away from the limelight. The book starts from his growing up in the Dominican Republic and how he had struggled as a child to be taken seriously as a baseball player. His brother Ramon, signed by the Dodgers, was Pedro’s ticket to getting a serious look from a big league team. Pedro walks you through his progression from dim prospect, to major leaguer, to superstar and introduces you to all the people he met in between. He has a very long memory of those who did him wrong and makes sure you know who they are in this book.
I had read some reviews of this book before I read it, just to see what I was getting myself into. Many other folks said that Pedro liked to remind the reader how great he really was. I am not disagreeing that point in any way with this book, but I don’t think it is Pedro being a conceited jerk. I think it more his immense pride coming through. He has very strong family roots and pride in his accomplishments. Also, the points he makes in the book about respect and his troubles along the way with getting any respect, it to me came off as a man with a strong pride. Now I say all this never being a huge Pedro fan when he was playing. The only regular first hand account of his playing days I had, where when he played half a season in 2009 for my Phillies. Even at the end of his career you could see his determination, pride out on the field and his ability to lead by example. So maybe Pedro isn’t as big of a jerk as some of the other book reviews have made him out to be.
Baseball fans should check this out for themselves. Maybe I am right or maybe everyone else is, but it’s you job as the reader to make that determination, I am just one guy’s opinion, who found after reading this, a new-found respect for Pedro Martinez. No for his on the field playing, but for the person he is.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If you stop and think about how many people have graced the baseball diamond over the course of its history, the final number is staggering. With demotions, trades, cup of coffee players and Hall of Fame players the number easily gets in to the tens of thousands if not more. Now you figure in that bunch there has to be some pretty wacky personalities and few just plain old odd-ducks. Thanks to Frank Russo, some of these interesting personalities will not be lost to the passage of time.
When I first looked at this book I expected it to be just about the Hall of Famers and those enshrined in Cooperstown. But I was happily surprised when it offered the reader so much more. It brings to life players that may get lost in the shuffle of today’s game.
Frank Russo, through tireless research has compiled a great collection of stories about players. He shows their contributions to the game, and what oddball facts or achievements that made them so unique. For some it may have been something on the field, while for some others it may have been the tragic circumstances in which they perished.
Russo, does go with some of the normal heavy hitters in the history of the game, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges are just a few of some of the luminaries featured here. But I ask, where else might you find these kind of stories about people such as Silver Flint, Ned Williamson and Bob Unglaub? It is a nice mix of players that gives the reader stories about the famous to the obscure and everything in between.
I personally like books like these that don’t focus on just the famous players. The obscure players offer most modern fans a history lesson. The book you are reading at the time may not give you a whole synopsis of their careers, but at least in me, it ignites a spark that makes me want to learn more about that player and see what they were about. By bringing up these forgotten names, the reader gets an inadvertent history lesson as well as an entertaining story.
Russo’s work should be commended with this book. His research efforts shine through strongly and every fan can probably learn something new from what is contained within this book. All baseball fans should enjoy it, because it really has something for everyone, no matter what generation of baseball you enjoy most.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield