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.
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
Sometimes you come across a player that has a lot of book presence in the market. Billy Martin is one that comes to mind as well as most of the other Yankee stars like Mantle and DiMaggio. Then there are others that have the market presence but still languish in the shadows. They may have played for a team in a smaller market or be from an era that is not as popular as some others. Honus Wagner is one of those players that has had several biographies written about him. So how do fans decide which ones are worth their time and which ones they should avoid at any cost? They stop by the bookcase of course and I give them my thoughts………
Honus Wagner was the National League superstar of his era. He was the nicer, friendlier version of his American League counterpart Ty Cobb. Playing in Pittsburgh probably diminished his popularity to some degree, but he still produced on the field and became one of the brightest stars in the game. You would think it would be easy to write about a career of this caliber but this book proves that it may be harder than one thinks.
Honus Wagner, A Biography disappointed me. I was hoping for a book that would give me a good feel for the player and the personality contained within. What I found was a book that was very big on game detail. Within those details it made it cumbersome to get through the book, because you were never sure where it was headed. Me being the reader, also had trouble with keeping track of who the author was talking about at that particular time. Was it Wagner or one of his teammates? It just was missing some sort of structure in the writing that really left me at times, confused.
The author’s research and work involved in fact-finding is the one bright spot of the book. It really came across that they tried to find every fact they could about Honus Wagner that was out there. The big problem was that the presentation of all those facts was missing some structure and in the end, not good in my opinion. I also didn’t get any good information regarding Honus Wagner. I had wanted to learn more about him on a personal level and had high hopes that this book would deliver. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I have read other books on Wagner in the past and reviewed some of them on here as well, and this sadly fails in comparison to the others.
Pirates fans might enjoy this book, just for the fact that it is a local boy makes good story. Other fans not so much and I recommend you gravitate towards some of the other Honus Wagner biographies that are out there on the market. If you still are interested in this one though, you can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pittsburgh Press.
I don’t normally like to do two books in the same review, but I felt this case was different. These two books are both new releases by the same author and the subject matter is related, so I figured it would be safe to do them together. Ronald T. Waldo has just released two Pittsburgh Pirates books that are from an era that sometimes gets forgotten. In our current world of everything, right now, it is important to remember our history. In baseball much of that history is incredible but some of it gets forgotten due to the passage of time. The people involved in those eras pass on and we lose some of the first hand memories. Thanks to Ronald’s books Pirates fans can now delve deep into their past.
Lets start with Honus Wagner and His Pittsburgh Pirates. I was expecting another basic biography about Honus Wagner. The like of which we have seen before, bu this was different. It was more of an anecdotal storytelling of Honus Wagner. It was giving you the details about the man himself, not just the on field personality. Enjoying life’s simple pleasures is not something you normally read in a baseball biography, but this one has it and it is a nice change of pace. You also see Wagner’s interactions with other players around the league and his feelings towards baseball in general.
This book is a nice change of pace from the normal everyday baseball biography in the fact that it gives you views of the player himself. It shows the human side of Honus Wagner that many of us could never before relate to. Being he played so long ago, that human aspect gets lost to time. Through Ronald Waldo’s hard work and research, he is able to make Honus Wagner come alive for new generations of baseball fans.
Waldo’s second book the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates brings alive a team that I feel is also getting lost to the passage of time.
When you think about great baseball teams the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates do not, at least for me, immediately come to mind. 1902 being the middle year of a three-year pennant run is widely considered the best of those three teams. Again through Waldo’s exhaustive research you get great detail about a team that I think would be very hard to come up with information on. Outside of Pittsburgh, I think you would be hard pressed to find many people who are well educated on this team.
This book shows the politics of baseball at the turn of the 20th century along with details of how the Pirates fortunes had changed for the better. It also gives a nice review of how the entire season progressed for the Pirates and how they overcame players jumping to the rival American League. It is a great glimpse into the past when baseball operated nothing like what we accept as the norm today.
These types of books have to be very hard to write since you are dealing with things that happened over 100 years ago. Ronald T. Waldo should be commended on his dedication to his subject and the effort he has put in to both of these books. It is authors like this that help keep the grand history of the game alive over a century later.
You can get both these books from the nice folks at McFarland