There are few figures in baseball that were as polarizing as Dick Allen was during his career. Philadelphia fans maintained a blurry line between love and hate for Dick which helped forge his reputation that followed him from city to city. Allen was a bonafide superstar during his era, who some say never met his true potential. Multiple stops in his career ended in messes that were partially Dick’s fault but in hindsight not totally. There have not been many attempts at putting Dick Allen’s complete story in print, quite honestly, this is one of the few I have ever found in my travels. Now there is a new book coming out in a few weeks that gives a more in depth look at the man behind the legend.
Where does one even start when talking about Dick Allen? He is such a complex personality that has gotten so little attention since his retirement that it would seem overwhelming to any writer willing to tackle the subject. The prior book about Dick Allen as mentioned above relied on interviews with Allen himself. It presented some conflicting stories that made the reader feel like he did not get the whole story. This new book relies on interviews with some people who witnessed events first hand and gave a different perspective on everything that happened.
Nathanson walks the reader through Dick’s entire career, from the minors to all his stops in the majors. He shows the horrible treatment Allen endured in the south during his baseball training as well as the same racism he he had to put up with playing for Philadelphia. The author dissects the love hate relationship between Allen and the Phillies fans and shows his treatment may have been a part of the bigger mindset of the town itself, not just a personal dislike for Allen. On the flip side of the City of Philadelphia’s shortcomings you also get to see how Dick Allen did not make the situation better for himself along the way. Some things get clarified while other things may forever be a mystery. Neither party is innocent in the course of events but this book helps clarify the fact that the events that happened in Philadelphia were not all Dick Allen’s fault.
The author also covers all of the other stops along Dick’s career path. While each one had a mix of success and trouble, each one ended the same way, the team was glad to be moving on. The most interesting part to me of this book was the events that led up to Dick’s return to the Phillies. You see the change in the city’s mindset and team management that helped welcome Dick home for one last stand. You can see the healing on both sides and the change of attitudes. To some extent I think the Phillies fans realized what they once had and to some degree were willing to make amends for past indiscretions. This also allowed Dick to leave baseball on his own terms and finish up with the Oakland A’s. The only thing I wish this book had was more about Dick on a personal level. It mostly sticks to his career, but does offer a few glimpses behind the scenes. I wold like to know more about Dick Allen the person, but few of us will ever be so lucky.
This book really sheds some light on Dick Allen and the events of his career. There are plenty of things that transpired that fans, owners, management and Dick himself should not be so proud of, but it does give a complete picture of what happened during those times. All that aside, the most recent question as of late is does Dick belong in the Hall of Fame. If you remove the Phillies association out of the equation for me, I still say yes to his induction. He was a major player in the 60’s and 70’s and made some great contributions to the game on the field and contributed some great things of the field when he mentored younger players. His introverted personality may have rubbed some people the wrong way at the time, but it still not diminish his contributions to the game. Hopefully the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will get it right the next time around.
Baseball fans should not miss this book. It is a player that never has gotten much book coverage and it really sheds new light on what we all thought about Dick Allen.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pennsylvania Press
I find it fascinating that there are people who have played this game and despite their momentous accomplishments on the field can to some degree remain in the shadows. Perhaps this is by design, but I find it hard to believe a player would want to avoid accolades. Maybe it is the player being a victim of circumstances in playing for a team in a small market or he is just being a bright spot on some very bad teams. Whatever the reasons may be one of the players that I felt may not have always gotten his due is Harmon Killebrew. Playing for first the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins and finally the Kansas City Royals, Killebrew never really spent any great amount of time in a large market. I think this plays into the premise for me that even though Killebrew earned his Hall of Fame status he never really got the notoriety he was due. Today’s book takes a look at the gentle giant that lurked behind Killer Killebrew.
From normal American upbringings in Idaho, Harmon Killebrew was like every other kid in the post World War II era. A local hero with respect for his elders there was nothing bad that could be said about young Harmon. This book follows the home town hero through his local rise to stardom and his trek to the big leagues. It has countless interviews with some of the folks that crossed paths with Harmon and not a single person had anything negative to say about the slugger. If they were friends in High School and have not seen him in 40 years everyone still considered him their friend.
Aschburner takes the reader through Killebrew’s journey, getting established in the majors and getting adjusted to his new locales. He gives the reader a glimpse of the persona behind the player and how it didn’t matter who you were, Harmon Killebrew seemed to treat everyone just the same. It shows the humble character of Harmon that was something that never changed his entire life.
I always find interesting in these books how a player deals with the downside of his own career. It is inevitable and something every player in every generation will have to face. Like everything else he did in life Harmon faces it with grace and dignity and moves to the next chapter of his life. The author shows the reader how life after baseball can be hard on any player, even the Superstars. Money and health are two key real life issues that effected the post playing days for this Hall of Famer. It was a good look at the humanity involved in Harmon Killebrew.
Steve Aschburner did a real nice job with this book. I honestly feel that after reading this book I have a better feel of who Harmon Killebrew the person was. We are all familiar with the Hall of Fame player, who unfortunately played in a city that may have hampered us to getting to see his personality off the field.
I would recommend this book for all baseball fans. It’s a nice, easy reading book and it offers the fact that you would be hard pressed to find anyone that anything bad to say about Harmon Killebrew.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
I think there are many great injustices within the game of baseball. From plays on the field that get called incorrectly to the many talented people who fall into the cracks of history. There are too many baseball professionals that give their entire lives and every fiber of their beings to the game and in return do not receive the accolades they truly deserve. Managers sometimes are a bunch that gets forgotten if they do not reach the pinnacle of the game. Regardless of how they perform over their entire career, if they don’t win a World Series, they usually get forgotten when speaking of the greats. Todays book takes a look at one of those people who truly was a great manager and gets forgotten when the conversation turns to Baseballs Greatest Managers.
I must admit I was very excited about this book. Gene Mauch has for a long time topped my list of one of the best managers the game has had to offer during its history. Always one to be saddled with the task of building a winner from the ground up, he never shied from a task like that and rose to the challenge of laying the groundwork for winning teams.
Mel Procter has taken a look at Gene Mauch’s entire career in this book. From border line Major League player and star in the minors. You get to see the passion and fire that was a Gene Mauch trademark on the field. The reader sees what made Mauch tick and the drive that helped propel his small stature and guts into a hard-nosed player who earned the respect of teammates and fans alike. Being a fan of Mauch this is something that I was not very familiar with. There is plenty of documentation about his short stays in the Majors, but the Minor League stories were new ones to me, which helped paint a broader picture of his skills and his career.
Seizing the opportunity with the Phillies, the reader then journeys through his managerial career. It shows the methodical nature that Mauch tried to build winners and the inherent struggles associated with trying to build from within during that era. Gene’s next stops were Montreal, Minnesota and California, all of which saw varying degrees of improvement under Gene. You see how his personality of hard-nosed play and determination is transmitted to his players, so maybe winning is contagious after all. The only down side to the manager portion of the story is that I would have liked to see some more stories about the Twins and Angels. Those sections weren’t as long as the ones about Philly and Montreal, but when you have a career that spans this many decades you probably have to make some cuts somewhere.
Mel Proctor should be very proud of this book. He has given complete and honest coverage to a baseball personality that I think gets shafted sometimes. Just because he came within one pitch of actually making the World Series and was also the captain of the Titanic in Philadelphia in 1964 does not make him a bad manager. To the contrary I think Mauch was one of the more dedicated and smarter managers in the game during his era and was unfortunately the victim of some bad baseball timing. There are other managers in the Hall of Fame with multiple World Series trophies that are there partly due to the pinstripes they wore. I think man for man, Gene Mauch could outshine many of them.
Check out this book for yourself and give Gene Mauch the respect he deserves. After a life long dedication to the game, he deserves at least that much and honestly baseball fans will enjoy this one. This may be one of the few chances we as fans get to learn about the real Gene Mauch
You can get this book from the nice folks at Cardinal Publishing
Throughout my writings on this blog I have never made it any secret that I am huge Phillies fan. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia showed me that misery is just part of the game of baseball in the city of brotherly love. Mr. Murphy and his pesky little law always found a way to rear its ugly little face just as the Phightin Phils were on the brink of success. He would show his face in the various forms of Chico Ruiz and the Cincinnati Reds, Davey Lopes and the L.A. Dodgers, Joe Carter and the Toronto Blue Jays and countless others. For some reason we Phillies fans love to relive our misery. With the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Phillies and their season that almost was recently passing, there have been plenty of books recounting the misery of that season. I have looked at three other books on the 64 Phils on this blog, so if you check the archives you can find the others. Today’s is the final one I have been able to get a copy to review, and offers a little different perspective.
Being in a field of books about the same subject has to be a challenge. Each book wants to make its own mark in the world while offering the reader something the others don’t. I have read the other books that came out on this subject except for September Swoon, and each offers the reader something different. The authors of this particular book have found a way to relay the same story to the reader but show pride and passion that they possess for their beloved Phillies.
Stefano and Olcese are two home-grown Philly guys that review the events of 1964 in their writing. The thing that makes it different is that you can feel the baseball fan in their writings. You can see how that team made them hurt and all those fans around Philly as well. The book almost feels like a true Philly fan’s account of what 1964 meant to them. They also do the obligatory state of Philadelphia on a societal level, which does give you nice background on the city itself.
The one thing that has set this book apart from me are the pictures. All the other books had pictures, but this one had them in color. Its little things like this that make a reader go hey, that’s cool. The center of the book also contains recreations of the Philadelphia Bulletin’s player pictures that were given away in the paper in the summer of 64. For someone who grew up in Philly you see this around from time to time, but if you live outside the area you may not be as familiar with them.
Phillies fans will love this books for lots of reasons. It gets in deep with the Phillies of years gone by and shows it from a fans perspective, so its easy to relate to. Also, it allows Phillies fans to do what they have been trained for, wallowing in their self-pity. History fans will like it as well as it is a thorough recount of 1964 season and the events that unfolded for the snake-bitten Philadelphia Phillies.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Chapel Hill Press
Philadelphia sports fans constantly get criticized for acting the way they do. They get called all sorts of names that are justified at times. Yes we are pessimists, and always expect the worst. Throughout it all we are loyal to our teams, sometimes to a fault. If you look back in to history perhaps you can trace our actions to one disappointing season. 1964. It was the year that the one time the Phillies fans felt they had the season already in the bag, it blew up in their faces. To this day 50 years later, mentioning 1964 evokes a string of obscenities not even a sailor would love. Todays book gives us fuel for the obscenity laden fire…..
By; Barry Bowe-2014 Self published
Phillies fans to this day are still cursing Gene Mauch for his bonehead moves. Still hating Chico Ruiz for stealing home and still wondering what could have been. For those not familiar with the 1964 Phillies here is the short and quick version. The Phils were leading the National League by 6 1/2 games with 12 games left to play and found a way to blow it. Through a series of managerial blunders and the overworking of two of the anchors on the pitching staff, the Phils coughed up the lead and ended the season tied for second place. The downward spiral was started by a 1-0 loss to the Reds in a game in which Chico Ruiz stole home with Frank Robinson at bat. To this day mention Chico Ruiz to a Phillies fan and they just shake their head.
Barry Bowe undertakes a very touchy subject with this book. It could only be handled by a true Philadelphia sports fan. He does a great job of not only explaining the 1964 season but also interjecting information about the Philly sports fan psyche in general.
Bowe dissects each game inning by inning throughout the entire season. That alone is a monumental undertaking, but he also interjects information about some of the players in those specific games as well. The attention to detail in this book shows through in the fact that every game adheres to the same level of detail. He also throws in little tidbits of information as to what was happening in the world around us on any given day.
Another fun aspect of this book is that the author reveals some personal information. He describes his fan experience during certain points in his own life. Those personal stories did not always occur in 1964, but did explain his growth as a Philadelphia sports fan. He does make the attempt to give a brief explanation as to what other collapses have occurred on the Philadelphia sports scene throughout the years. They are very brief accounts, that give the reader a quick overview, but also shows how these occurences could fill their own book.
Overall Bowe does a great job helping the Phillies fans re-live a nightmare. Phillies fans should really enjoy this book as it helps justify the anger 50 years later. People outside of the Philadelphia area should find this book helpful in the fact that it may help explain, why we the Philly fans are the way we are.
You can pick up this book direct from author Barry Bowe