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
1981 was somewhat of a transition year for America. Disco was dead, the Phillies were after 97 years, reigning World Series Champions and old school baseball was changing. The recent advent of free agency in the second half of the last decade was making wholesale changes to the way the old school owners conducted business. Those same changes were leading to the selling of teams and making dollar signs bounce around like super balls. Some of it was for the betterment of the game, but it was driving the old guard nuts. After a few years of tumultuous relations between the players union and MLB, the season became fractured due to a players strike that would never leave baseball the same.
The events of 1981 have always needed some clarification for me. I have never quite understood what the basis of the strike was other than money. Now, I am totally clear as to what the issues were and why the issues at hand were worth fighting for.
Jeff Katz has created to me essentially the bible of the 1981 season. He takes an in-depth look at the labor issues leading up to the 1981 players strike and what the players felt needed to improve. He discusses the issues both on and off the field in 1981 and how the strike effected everyone and everything. He also paints an overall picture of the state of relations between players and owners after the advent of free agency.
A large portion of this book obviously centers on the strike itself. Katz takes the reader on a journey of all the events that happened in negotiations and you get to see the key players and negotiators at work. The authors account is a painstaking journey through the legal avenues traveled within Major League Baseball. It gives insight to the strike and negotiations that I have never seen before. It helps clarify to the reader that the players were not just a bunch of money hungry thieves that were looking for a big score. They had legitimate complaints that needed to be addressed by the owners in the changing ways in which MLB now needed to function. The book also shows the owners side of the table and in the end, the were fumbling bunch of idiots that harmed their own cause in the end.
Jeff Katz has created a great book that is a very enjoyable read that moves along quickly. Even though a large portion of the book is off-field events, it keeps the reader’s interest and makes you not want to put it down. All baseball fans should enjoy this book. You can see how your favorite team and a few star players fared during the strike and at the negotiation table.
You can pick up this book from the nice folks at St. Martins Press