It is a simple yet valid question, that I see pop up from time to time. Which players really deserve a book? What criteria have we set forth as a baseball community to answer this question? To date, I don’t think we have answered that question, and in my honest opinion it is one that probably should will be answered. Every player, coach, executive, umpire or whomever has a unique story to tell. It is up to you as the discernible reader to decide which stories have merit and which ones were better lost to the passage of time. With the help of a few unbiased reviews you can usually get a feel of what to pick up and which ones to leave alone, but there are still a ton of baseball books out there to choose from. For my money, I like the somewhat obscure players telling me about their experiences and sharing stories that may have never been told before. Today’s book is one of those types of books that takes a look at a life and career dedicated to baseball from someone who wasn’t a household name.
If you asked 100 baseball fans who Skip Lockwood was my guess is a majority of those asked would not be able to answer right away. That is okay though because baseball history is filled with those types of guys. It is no knock on them as individuals, it is just sometimes how baseball history goes. Lockwood will best be remembered as a serviceable journeyman closer that could eat innings and mop up when needed. He played on some horrible teams and unfortunately what positive things came from his own career got overshadowed by the bad teams he played on.
Skip walks the reader through his life in and out of baseball. You go through his childhood and see how he knew early own that baseball was his calling. You see all the preparation he did to achieve this dream and the countless hours spent perfecting the trade. Once the dream became reality and he was signed by a professional team, you see the struggles of honing his skills at the next level which led to an eventual position change and the making of a Pitcher. It is an honest look at the game at a minor league level during that era and shows the struggles a lot of guys faced.
Next up you see the game through Lockwood’s eyes at the Major League Level. Stops in Milwaukee, California, New York, Oakland and Boston paint a picture of the consummate professional always willing to work on the trade. While results may not always have been what was wanted or expected, it wasn’t from lack of trying.
One aspect of this book that I found very interesting was Lockwood’s recollection of every thought and action during certain times on the field. He gives such detail of exactly what was going through his head at that very moment. How the ball felt, how the sweat felt, what exactly his mind was thinking and more. Now I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I always find it fascinating when players have such vivid recollections as this. It really gives an interesting look at what it is like to be out there on the mound in given situations.
If you are looking for a book that gives the reader some new stories and an honest and detailed look at what goes through your mind when you are a Major League player when they are out on the field, then you should check this book out. It’s a nice easy read that sheds a different light on a player than what many of us are used to. It engages the reader on a different level and provides a great insight to the game in many different ways. So I ask again……….Who deserves a book? Many more people than you would originally think.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing
Happy Reading Gregg
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
The more books I read, the more I think almost everybody is a baseball fan. It seems to touch everyone on some level and if they chose to admit it or not, is their prerogative. I have come across books in the past with an agenda of a very serious topic that also has some sort of baseball spin to them. These books usually put on display a great social injustice in a specific area, but to date I have not come across one that spells out the governmental backstabbing one specific community had to endure. Today’s book was found by a recommendation from a Facebook friend (thanks Debby!) and I was not disappointed in the least.
This books intended audience I believe was not to be considered a baseball book. Its original purpose was to show the social injustice that the Mexican community had to endure at the hands of the Los Angeles city government. Essentially they destroyed a tight knit community in the name of social progress and urban development. Change like that was to some degree inevitable in every big city during the post World War II era and Los Angeles was no exception. By destroying the Chavez Ravine community the city created numerous economic and social disasters that plagued that area for decades.
Most of the property the city claimed was through short purchase and eminent domain in the name of housing developments. In the end those housing developments never came to be, and the land was eventually used for other purposes. In case you haven’t figured it out, this is where the Dodgers come in to play and acquired their space to build Dodger Stadium. It shows the numerous back room deals that benefited Walter O’ Malley and the Dodgers franchise, all while backstabbing a community. It really shows the darker side of moving baseball to the west coast.
The book is a very thoughtful and insightful case study of Los Angeles politics during this time period. It also shows the scarier side of city politics and how as fans we don’t always see the dark side of the baseball business dealings. The book is not entirely a baseball product, but it does have enough content to hold a fans interest throughout the entire book . For those who think Walter O’Malley was a hero for bringing baseball west may really want to check this book out, because it really sheds a different light on the entire process.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Arizona Press
When you have an interest in baseball books as a fan, it can lead you down some really neat avenues. Player biographies, team histories, season recaps and countless other topics are available for the knowledgeable fan. If you are just starting out there are also learning tools available to you as a fan, that will teach you the specific language and terminology of the game, so that you understand what other people are talking about. Every fan has to start somewhere on their learning journey and today’s book is a great tool to help kick start that quest for general baseball knowledge.
The Baseball Thesaurus takes the reader through an alphabetical journey of the sports terminology. It breaks down all the major terms used in a baseball game and gives a few varying explanations of what the term means. It also gives the reader other terms that are commonly accepted for the same thing or event. All in all, this book covers a lot of ground and would really aid in bringing a novice fan up to speed on all of the baseball lingo.
Books like this are very important to baseball because they help foster each new generation into loving the game. With the knowledge they get from this book it opens the door to reading further into the game. It may lead them into reading the other types of books mentioned above and helps the history of the game carry on through time.
If you know of a novice baseball fan, you may want to introduce them to this book. It will aid in their learning of the game and also shorten their learning curve. For fans who are well versed in the game this probably will not help you much unless you want to know thirteen alternative names for a weekly hit ground ball. In the end we as fans are all to some degree are keepers of baseball and as such, are tasked with the job of documenting, maintaining and passing on its history to future generations.
You can get this book from the nice folks at August Publications
If you are looking for a book review tonight unfortunately you have come to the wrong place. Being the name sake of this blog provides me the opportunity to have a public venting session when needed. So please if you all will, amuse me tonight and let me complain so that by tomorrow I will be in a better frame of mind and will return to what I normally do around here…….baseball books and all that go with it.
For those of you who haven’t heard, my wife and I are expecting our first child in August. To celebrate the event we were going to take an epic trip in May and visit six MLB stadiums in eight days along with one Minor League stop in there as well. Here is the link to the original story if you missed it. We had some good responses and ideas from a few of my readers to some things we should not miss at the places we were going. We also had some preliminary contact with a couple of the teams we were going to visit so it was looking like it was all going to come together nicely and be a fun trip. Until today, when my little black cloud, that seems to follow me almost everywhere, showed its ugly face once again and rained all over our trip. You may ask, what has happened that would be so crappy to ruin our epic trip……..here let me show you…………….
That is a wonderful x-ray of my spine. The same spine that now requires surgery and some sort of implant to fix and has essentially screwed us out of our trip. I will be out of commission for at least a month and that falls right during the month of May. So instead of following the Phillies from city to city, and eating an Egg Mcmuffin in Toledo at a baseball game, I will be sitting at home on the couch with my head buried in another baseball book.
My wife has brought up the proposition of doing this trip next summer with our new little bundle of joy in tow, but I haven’t 100% signed off that idea yet. I do think having the new addition along would be a great bonus to the trip, I am just not sure how easy that much travel would be with someone that little.
I would like to think there is some sort of reason this has happened now and that we are better off staying home. But more than likely, it is just my black cloud following me again. So all the above being said if anyone has some ideas for books I should check out during my several week recuperation let me know. I have a few weeks until my surgery date, but will still have several weeks at home to read.
So that’s the plan, we will make that my silver lining in all of this and hopefully get some new recommendations from my readers. I have lots of faith in the folks I talk to in baseball book land and have already read a few of your ideas. So I look forward to and also appreciate any ideas you all have.
Thanks for reading my rant, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to listen to me whine and complain……………now back to your regular scheduled book reviews.
It is a very sad fact that no matter how good a player is or was, they sometimes get forgotten in baseball history. Flashier, louder and more savvy players come along and steal the spotlight while these great players just go about their business playing the game. This also extends to other arenas like the Hall of Fame, because some players get forgotten by the voters in Cooperstown as well. Baseball publishing is another area where so many of the stories that should be told, if for no other reason than preservation of the game’s history, usually are not. Ken Boyer is one of those players that had an incredible career, but truly never got any of the written credit he deserved. Boyer recently shared a book about himself and his siblings and a few books aimed at the juvenile set were published during his career, but up until now he has never gotten the book he really deserved. Kevin McCann has published the book that baseball fans have been wanting and waiting for about Ken Boyer.
Ken Boyer was a staple of St. Louis Cardinals baseball for a long time. Receiver of numerous accolades during his career, he was the type of baseball player parents were glad that their kids looked up to. For some reason throughout time, Boyer never got the recognition he deserved form historians. Perhaps it was his low key demeanor and how he went about his business or some other unknown reason, but it really is a shame the world has not recognized his talents.
Kevin McCann has produced a real gem with this book. He takes a look at Boyer’s early life and how his early life struggles helped forge the strong personality that his was. He also takes a look at Boyer’s climb up the baseball ladder. Experiences in the Minor Leagues all added to the personality that eventually shone through in St. Louis.
McCann also takes the reader on a journey along with Ken Boyer through his impressive time manning Third Base for the Cardinals. World Series triumphs, All-Star Games and an MVP award just to keep it interesting were all bestowed upon Boyer while manning the hot corner. Next he takes you through the winding down portion of his career with stops with the Mets, White Sox and Dodgers. But the journey doesn’t stop there with Boyer. The author shows us the steps Boyer took to remain in baseball. By starting at the bottom and working his way back up again, he was able to take over the managerial reigns of the Cardinals for a while with limited success before his untimely death in 1982.
Finally McCann makes a solid case for Boyer’s inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Honestly if you can make a solid case to have Ron Santo in the Hall at this point then Ken Boyer is a no-brainer for induction. For some reason baseball has overlooked Boyer’s career and has shown to some degree the flaws with the Hall of Fame voting system.
McCann has written a great book with this one. The writing style flows smoothly, moves fast and makes the reader feel like they were actually there. It is a great story that I for one am glad is finally being told on the level it deserves. The book is very hard to put down once you get started.
Baseball fans should check this one regardless of team allegiance. It is a player that should be given the historical respect he deserves and hopefully this book takes an important step forward in gaining recognition for the legacy Ken Boyer left behind.
You can get this book from the nice folks at BrayBree Publishing
Owners are an interesting lot in Major League Baseball. Some are from the old school and don’t really care about the fortunes of the company, they just want to own a team. Some are in it for the profit aspect, while others ownership groups are part of a corporate conglomeration. I have always found the individual owners the most intriguing. Some of the best off-field personalities within baseball have come from ownership. Walter O’Malley, George Steinbrenner, Bill Veeck and Charlie Finley are just a few of the greats that have come from that group. Baseball has always been considered a good-old boys club but there have been a few exceptions to that rule. Today’s book takes a look at those exceptions and the great contributions the lady owners have made to the game of baseball.
William A. Cook has taken some of the most influential names in female ownership within baseball and created in-depth biographies of each one. Owners such as Effa Manley, Joan Payson, Jean Yawkey, Marge Schott, Joan Kroc and Grace Comisky to name a few. Each woman came into ownership through a unique set of circumstances. Some were by design and some were by accident, but nevertheless it shows how each overcame the obstacles inherent to being a minority and owning a baseball team.
This author does a great job of showing the state of each respective team when the owner took over, the coming to power and the final results the team achieved under their ownership. Finally the author tells us how each team was disposed of. It really shows a complete picture of what the ownership by each of the lady moguls accomplished during their tenure and where they have missed their mark.
I have seen individual biographies on some of the women mentioned in this book, but really did enjoy the format of covering several of them in one book. 20-30 pages was plenty to cover each one of the owners and gave a thorough picture as to what each ownership group achieved. Obviously you would be able to complete a stand alone biography on any of the owners covered but this is a very nice resource to get your feet wet with a group of female owners.
Fans who have an interest in the off-field history of the game really will enjoy this. It is a glimpse behind the curtain of stuffy team ownership and shows some of the driving personalities throughout history. Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press
I will admit it, 2016 has been off to a somewhat slow start for me with baseball books. The books from publishers and authors have slowed down somewhat, so I just don’t have as many books to post as of late. One book that I am glad to say I still had in my arsenal was this one.
Every generation of baseball seems to have that one character that stands out above the others. Not necessarily for their skills on the field, but more for the character they are off of it. One of those larger than life characters was Bobo Newsom. Coming from very humble beginnings in South Carolina, he turned his baseball skills into his own little circus. Making stops in various cities around the league, some of those actually more than once or twice, he made the best of situations and created himself, the legend of Bobo.
Bobo is definitely an under-covered personality of the game. Perhaps it is because he passed away more than 50 years ago or perhaps the powers that be within the game want us to forget about him altogether. Whatever the reasons may be, it is important that we remember these types of people because these dedicated folks are what the game is built on. Guys like Bobo and Boots Poffenberger need to be remembered for their contributions to the game and not lost to the passage of time.
Jim McConnell has done an awesome job of bringing Ol’ Bobo back to life. For generations that may have missed him, this book takes you back to the time when Bobo reigned over baseball, to the delight of many and maybe not so much to others. His career and personal life are both covered in this book and it paints a complete picture of someone we honestly don’t get to read that much about. I had trouble putting this one down because he played in so many decades that he kept crossing paths with some of the games greats and it kept the story moving along at a brisk pace. His larger than life personality also made it a very interesting book and kept the reader involved the entire time.
Baseball fans should pick this one up, because it will appeal to fans of the game. If you are a fan of a specific teams, there is a pretty good shot Bobo played for your team at one time or another way back when, so it should have some appeal there as well. In all honesty, there is a great story in this book about one of the games most interesting personalities. This book is a great tool to teach the future generations of fans about the legend of Bobo Newsom.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
Teams that have been in existence for a long time have great histories. It is inevitable that through the passage of time some neat things are going to happen and in turn create some great traditions. The Dodgers are one such team that have that long and storied tradition. Being part of the national pastime almost from the beginning, they have created some wonderful memories through the years as well as leaving their mark on the great game we all love. One such tradition was Vero Beach, Florida. The spring training home of the Dodgers for decades, they basically made that town their own little world. Today’s book takes a look at the mark the Dodgers left on that sleepy little town in Florida.
Vero Beach in the 1940’s was a sleepy quiet little town in Florida, at least until the Dodgers arrived. Looking to save a buck and avoid segregation issues the Dodgers created their own little complex on a vacated military base. The idea of doing that at the time was unheard of, but does show how the Dodgers liked to not always follow tradition. It allowed for all the players to stay in one location and form a bond as a team, that none of the others had.
Rody Johnson has written a book that chronicles the entire existence of the Dodgers in Vero Beach. From their first spring at the crude facility through the end when the Dodgers folded their tent and moved to Arizona, you see what became Dodgertown. The book shows you how the Dodgers remodeled and expanded their facility through the years and how the local government was effected both by the Dodgers and other businesses that called Vero home. It also shows the results of the growth of Vero Beach had, because the Dodgers called that town home. Being more than a spring training complex you also get to see the operations the Dodgers had there pretty much year round that helped the economy of the area grow.
This is an in-depth book that shows how a team that you really only thought of as a spring training tenant really was a participant in the town all year. If you are not familiar with the Dodgers spring training operations, as I wasn’t, you will be surprised at the magnitude of their facility. It was called Dodgertown for a reason, and this book shows the reader that it really was warranted.
Dodgers fans will enjoy it as well as all baseball fans. It shows a cool operation that was a big part of the teams history, and the likes of something we may never see again of this magnitude.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University Press of Florida
I am not sure how many people actually pay attention to my blog, which is fine , I understood that when I started this. Why would people want to read what I think sometimes, in all honesty these blogs are just my opinions. Anyway, my posts on here have been few and far between as of late, and maybe for some that may be a good thing that I have been quiet. The reason behind the silence is that myself, my wife and three fairly ungrateful but still loveable cats are moving. So the time has come for this.
We are loading up the bookcase and moving to new digs over the next few days. So internet access ability will be few and far between and time at a premium, and besides I have a crap-ton of books to pack up and move. So for the next ten days or so Gregg (that’s me) will be among the missing until we get everything situated at the new place.
For those of you that have stopped by in the past year and checked out the blog, I thank you. This site is a labor of love for me and nothing more. So please be patient because in a few days we will be back rolling again. Also, if anyone has sent me a book to review, please be patient, you will not be forgotten, maybe just delayed a little bit.
I know I am looking for the restoration of some sanity in my life, not living out of cardboard boxes anymore and having some time to start reading again. So in the mean time, everyone keep reading and if you have any idea for books I should check out, drop me a line and let me know.
Be back soon and Happy Reading
and of course Brina, Phillie, Booger and Moose (All the innocent victims in moving all these books)