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
It seems like every generation in baseball has a phenomenon all their own. Something that takes the game by storm and regardless of who your team is that you root for and want to be part of it. Things that come to mind are Roger Maris in 1961, McGwire and Sosa in 1998 and even the Bash Brothers in the 80’s. But the 1970’s were a unique decade. We have seen in the past from some of the other books we reviewed like Stars and Strikes by Dan Epstein, how the 70’s were a decade of change both on a social level and on the ball field. The 70’s can lay claim to a few different memorable events, but one stands out above the rest. Mark Fidrych of the Detroit Tigers was about to take the baseball world by storm, and they didn’t even see it coming.
Mark Fidrych was the product of a small Massachusetts town, coming from a modest background. Never groomed to be a star athlete, he just played because he wanted to do so. But Mark Fidrych’s antics on the pitching mound, a big head of unmanageable hair and blazing fastball made him the talk of the country in 1976. Nicknamed The Bird due to his resemblance to Big Bird from Sesame Street, Fidrych had brief but magical career that to this day makes fans wonder what could have been.
Doug Wilson has written a book that explores the man behind the legend. Everyone is familiar with all the on-field antics that were part of Fidrych’s quirky personality, but unless you lived in Detroit at the time, you may have not been all that familiar with the real Mark. Wilson’s book gives a nice, detailed look at the man himself. From his roots in Massachusetts, through the minor leagues, his gig as “The Bird” and finally life after baseball, it paints a very detailed picture of what a nice guy he was. You always hear old players saying that they played for the love of the game, but I actually believe it with this one. He just seemed to have fun with everything he did and baseball was no exception. Many of the first hand accounts of Mark are taken from interviews with friends and family so they are really nice remembrances of a man who was taken from this world too soon.
Of course, what baseball book would be complete without taking a look at the on field activities of The Bird. You see his minor and major league career, his attempts at rehabbing his bad arm and finally his life after baseball. Most times the reporting on Mark Fidrych does not get beyond the on-field antics. It was nice to see someone finally put something together that showed the complete picture.
All baseball fans should like this one. If you were around during that magical summer that he took the game by storm, it will be fun re-living it. If The Bird was before your time, it will be another fun ride seeing what made the 70’s so groovy.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Thomas Dunne Books
At times, when there is greatness among us it goes unnoticed. Other times, it stirs a debate that long out lives the subject matter. Brooks Robinson certainly falls into that latter category. He is the standard of which all third baseman will be measured against. His field prowess has been known worldwide but todays book also gives a better look at the man behind the glove.
Brooks-The Biography of Brooks Robinson
By Doug Wilson – 2014 Thomas Dunne Books
The story of Brooks Robinson’s spectacular career is nothing new to seasoned baseball fans. There was nothing that would ever get by him on the field, spending his days playing the hot corner in Baltimore. From his start in 1955 to the very end in 1977, Brooks established himself as an institution in Baltimore. A career highlighted by enshrinement in Cooperstown, the true Biography of this hero among us shows he was a Hall of Famer in more way than one.
This book was way overdue as far as I am concerned. The last Brooks biography I can find was published in 1974. The author does a great job of chronicling the life of Brooks and covers the standard “back home when he was growing up” tales that you get with most books of this type. The one thing that sets this book apart from the others is you learn a great deal about the man’s personality. All I can say after reading this book is if all the stories are true, which I believe they are, than Brooks Robinson is a really really nice guy.
Right from the gate you get the sense that Brooks is genuinely a people person. From his interactions with people back home before ever reaching stardom, to his team mates, and his interaction with the fans after becoming a sure thing Hall of Fame player. He just never changed. It is almost refreshing to read the story of what a genuinely nice guy he was both on and off the field. No scandals, no affairs, no media disasters……..Just Brooks being Brooks. After reading this book I am not sure if Baltimore fans realize how lucky they were to have him for all those years. From reading this book I almost wish he was one of my friends, he seems that nice.
Doug Wilson does a great job of giving you the complete picture of the man both on an off the people. It does not feel in any way feel like an author who is just writing a hero-worship piece. The author is an Optometrist by day and a writer after hours, so going into this I was thinking it may have had a slanted view. I was wrong, it was an open and honest piece on the man. It is an in-depth, honest analysis of his playing career and from the included interviews you get the same strong results off the field. By doing some other investigating before writing this pos, just about everyone has the same feelings toward Brooks. Everybody loves him!
Being a Phillies fan I have always been subject to the who is the better third baseman question. Brooks or Mike Schmidt. They were comparable on the defensive side of the ball, but their numbers were a little different on the offensive side. I always gave the nod to Mike Schmidt just because I was a homer. After reading this I realize that they could not have more different personalities, which really should be part of that equation. Brooks really comes across as the whole package both on and off the field. My vote now goes for Brooks because you see in today’s sporting world, how important the complete package is.
Orioles fans should love this book and even fans, whose loyalties lie in other cities, will really enjoy it. The greatness of the man really shines through. Author Doug Wilson hit a home run with this one.
You can get this book from the friendly folks at Thomas Dunne Books