As we sit here today, Opening Day is only five short days away. I find that very hard to believe since I am sitting here watching a foot and a half of snow that came three days ago, melt out the window, but I am sure the baseball scheduling Gods have that all figured out. The Spring edition of Odds and Ends is upon us and while everything we look at today may not be a 2018 new season release, they are still solid books to help the reader wander through the new baseball year.
Ronald T. Waldo always takes on somewhat obscure era’s and subjects for his books. It is a good thing because Waldo always shows the reader an almost forgotten era in baseball and brings prominent names back to the forefront. I like Waldo’s books because his thorough research always shines through in the book and you can rely on the accuracy of the stories he tells the reader. If you have any sort of interest in 1920’s baseball or want to use this book as a history lesson for yourself, than this book is definitely one you should check out. You can get this one from the friendly folks at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Staying in the same era of baseball, what more can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It has won numerous awards since its release last year and quite honestly deserves every one of them. Steinberg has done a phenomenal job bringing the life and career of Urban Shocker to the modern day fan. It gives the reader a glimpse of what baseball was like during that timeframe and makes you realize how even though we are still essentially playing the same game, times have changed dramatically. For those with an interest in players of the past, the New York Yankees and several other aspects this book presents to the reader, it is worth checking out. It offers so many levels of information that you will be glad you took the time to read it. You can get this one from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press.
There have been a few books written by, or about Lou in the past. For my money, this one is the best of the bunch. It is updated through the end of his managerial career and into retirement and really gets you to the personal side of Lou Piniella. It covers his full life and is not really specifically team focused. It goes through everywhere he stopped during his playing and managing days and really doesn’t pull any punches. He is telling it like he sees it at this point. Other books on Lou have been more team or time frame focused, so this one really shows it all. If you have read the other books, there may be some overlap of information on certain teams but for the grand picture of a career this is your best bet. Yu can get this one from the nice folks at Harper Collins Publishers.
If you have a Yankees book, you should always follow it with a Red Sox book. 1967 seems to be a watershed year for the Sox and always seems to be the year everyone references as the highlight of an era. It was their first real taste of success after a long drought but it was unfortunately not sustained. Crehan’s book takes a good look at 1967 and why it is so special to Boston fans and why it was an important year in team history. For those of us not around then or for those not paying attention to them in 1967 it gives a great look at what happened. If you are a hardcore BoSox fan, of course you will want to read this, but some of theses stories may be tried and true classics that you love to hear about. For others, it may be a good learning tool about 1967 and the names that help make this team famous. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books.
Where would the game be without the Sportswriters. They are a vital part of looking at the game and analyzing what transpires on the field. Jim Kaplan previously has written for Sports Illustrated and has decided to share his thoughts on the history of the game and some of his views of players, on field plays and other aspects we may not have thought about. Its a fun read and makes you look at things just a little differently than you had before. You can get this one from the nice folks at Levellers Press.
McFarland has never been a publisher that was one to shy away from overlooked players or long forgotten subjects and this one easily falls into that category. Roy Sievers was a feared hitter during the 50″s but was often overshadowed by the other greats of that decade both on the field and in print. Finally getting his due in book form, readers can now learn about the great career of one of baseballs most overlooked hitters of that decade as well as learn about an overall pretty nice guy. Its important that people like this from baseball history don’t get forgotten, and McFarland has done a nice job of helping preserve his legacy by getting this to market.
Baseball seems to have a singular year every decade where they shoot themselves in the foot and the 60’s were no exception. Widely known for being the year of the pitcher, 1968 was the year the powers that be put their dunce caps on once again. This is a good look at what management was like back in the day and how that has changed as well. It also shows how baseball has been able to survive and rise above its own stupidity at times. You can get both of these from the nice folks at McFarland.
So ready or not the new baseball season is upon us, so no matter who you root for we are all in First Place at least for one day.
Happy Reading and Go Phillies!
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