Tagged: hank aaron

Happy Felsch-Banished Black Sox Center Fielder


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.

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By:Thomas Rathkamp-2016

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

Happy Felsch

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

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Odds and Ends-Spring 2016


I figured with my extended time off to recuperate I would have plenty of time to write on my blog.  Boy was  I wrong, between needing to get up and walk around every ten minutes because I am stiffening up and the fact the the medicines keep knocking me out, I am having trouble finding the time to write, let alone read.  But, what it has done is given me the chance to look at some books that I would not always feel were the correct fit for an entire single post.  The book could be too short, it could be a coffee table book or it could be a book that doesn’t really target my audience.  These are in no way bad books, because honestly if they sucked, I wouldn’t waste the time putting them on here for everyone to look at them, but there is a format issue that doesn’t work well within my bookcase. So from time to time we do one of these multi book posts to clean up one of the shelves in the bookcase……and share some of these books to the world.  So here we go…..

Baseball’s No -Hit Wonders-More than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats

By Dirk Lammars-2016

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Is it me, or do no hitters seem to happen more often today then they did say thirty of forty years ago?  Has the level of play in the league diminished that much that these have become commonplace?  Lammers takes the readers through the interesting history of the no hitter and how it has played out through the history of the game. He shows the pitchers and hitters involved, no hitters that were broken up after 26 outs and all the other odd and wacky things that happened in the past to those pitchers, both lucky and good enough to even flirt with a no-no.  If your interested in the who, what, when, where and why of no-hitters you will really enjoy what this book will bring to your table.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Unbridled Books

 

The 50 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Pirates History

By David Finoli-2016

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These types of books are always fun.  For the one and only reason that no two people will ever agree 100 percent as to who belongs at what spot on the list. I really don’t know what the criteria is by the authors to make it on to these types of lists, but they never seem to disappoint the reader.  They always include the Hall of Famers, team superstars as well as the hometown heroes. You would also have to think they target their specified teams fan base so they are always eager to please the homers.  I had done this type of book by another author on the Pittsburgh Pirates last year and I went back to pull it out to compare.  What I found is that more then half of the players they can agree on being in the book,, but differ on where they rank.  So bottom line is if you read one of these books about your team and find another one, check it out because it may give you a different spin on the players that may be more in line with your personal rankings as well.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield

 

The BUCS!-The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates

By John McCollister-2016

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Lets stay in Pittsburgh  for a second on this book.  The BUCS! takes a very brief look at the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  From its 19th century beginnings to its current day under field manager Clint Hurdle, this book takes an abbreviated, but fast paced look at the history in Pittsburgh.  If the Pirates are not your team and never have been in the past, this book is a great way to get a good albeit brief history from Kiner and Roberto to Bonds and McCutchen.  Its only roughly 200 pages, so even if you are familiar with Bucs history it would be a quick and easy refresher course.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press.

The Legends of the Philadelphia Phillies

By Bob Gordon-2016

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What would one of these posts be without a Phillies book?  This book, first released by Bob Gordon in 2005, compiles some of the greatest names in Phillies history and gives strong bios on each of those lucky enough to be a Phillie. It gives a great look at team history from an author that has some great ties to the team itself, through several other books he has written.  So why do you need to buy the reprint of a book released ten years ago?  It has been updated for deaths of the older players and it also has added a few Phillies superstars that became prominent in the last half of the last decade when the Phillies were on top of the world.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.

 

The Grind-Inside Baseball’s Endless Season

By Barry Svrluga-2015

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Without question, Baseball has the most grueling schedule of all the professional leagues.  Almost stretching to nine months of the year when you factor in pre and post season, it would take some sort of toll on even the strongest of personalities.  Svrluga has taken a look at this relentless schedule and the effect it has on the personal lives of those involved and how it effects almost everyone involved with a team.  It looks at varying position players , the 26th man on most rosters, travelling secretaries, spouses, kids and clubhouse attendants.  It really is an interesting look behind the scenes of the game and what those involved are willing to sacrifice to be a part of the great game of baseball. You van get this book from the nice folks at Blue Rider Press

 

Diamond Madness-Classic Episodes of Rowdyism, Racism and Violence in Major League Baseball

By William A. Cook-2013

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William Cook’s Diamond Madness gives the reader a good look at the scary side of baseball.  When you get beyond all of the normal hero worship that comes as part of the normal territory with the game and when those things get really scary.  Fan obsessions, death threats, violence, racism, shootings and robberies are all just a part of what is shown to the readers of this book.  It is amazing how even though these are normal stories in the everyday world, they are so many times magnified just by playing baseball.  It also goes to show how much work the people behind the scenes in baseball put in to making sure nothing tarnishes the wholesomeness of the American Past-time.  I think if you check this out it will show some new perspectives to the average fan of what really goes on.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press.

 

Tales From the Atlanta Braves Dugout

By Cory McCartney-2016

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I will admit it………..I love this series!   You can get whatever team you wish at this point because it seems like almost every team is available now.  You can also use it as a history lesson to brush up on all the funny stories of a team that you are not very familiar with and get a good feel for what that teams history is all about.  If you grab the book of your favorite team it is a chance to regale in all the stories you have heard time and time again and like a favorite uncle at a holiday dinner, are glad to listen to over and over.  You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.

 

 

I See the Crowd Roar-The Story of William “Dummy” Hoy

By Joseph Rotheli & Agnes Gaertner-2014

This book is intended for a younger audience but it does provide a very deep lesson for all fans.  William Hoy was hearing impaired and never heard a single fan cheer for him.  The book shows how Hoy overcame his disability and made the best if it as well as keeping up a positive attitude during the course of events.  The book also shows the positive impact had on the function of the game and how things like hand signals that were originally implemented for Hoy alone, have become mainstays of the game generations later.  It truly is an inspiring story that younger fans should be made aware of so they have a complete baseball education.  There is also a movie version of the book in the pipeline as well.  You can get this book from the nice folks at the lil-red-foundation.

 

Black Baseball, Black Business-Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar

By Roberta Newman & Joel Nathan Rosen-2014

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In baseball nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  This book takes a look at how the integration of baseball, while a great thing on the civil rights front, created waves that destroyed black economies in the larger cities that were homes to Negro League Teams.  It is a really interesting look at the economies of the integration of baseball on those parties that were not in any way involved in the decision making process or the game of baseball itself.  It also shows how the innocents involved were essentially destroyed by the baseball powers that were at the time pushing it as a cause for greater good.

Happy Reading

Gregg

Swinging ’73-Baseball’s Wildest Season


Some baseball seasons seem to have their own personality.  It could be the antics happening on the field or the drama that unfolds behind the scenes that keep certain seasons alive in the minds of fans for decades.  The 70’s was a decade that was never short on excitement.  Pick any year in that decade and something monumental was happening that helped shape the future of the game.  1973 was no different.  The most historical feat was the introduction of the Designated Hitter.  So monumental was it, that 45 years later we are still fighting over whether it is a good thing or not.  Today’s book takes a look at year that gave use everything from the DH to a long goodbye to Willie Mays.

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By:Matthew Silverman-2013

In the past couple years a few authors have taken on the task of picking a season from the 70’s and dissecting it.  Silverman has no shortage of material to work with in 1973, that is for sure.  From the introduction to the DH, the closing of original Yankee Stadium, the Miracle Mets and the wife swapping of Fritz Peterson are just a few of the points that made 1973 a spectacular season.

The author has done a nice job at looking at some of the important subjects of 1973, as mentioned above the implementation of the Designated Hitter, the painful farewell of Willie Mays and the Miracle Mets, the closing of original Yankee Stadium for remodeling, the Oakland A’s and their repeat winning of the division and of course last but not least new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his wife swapping pitchers.  Silverman covered them all with accuracy and great detail, he has presented a story that was interesting and engaging and a good read for the average fan on these subjects.

The problem I has with this book is that there was more going on in 1973 than just these few subjects mentioned above.  Hank Aaron was hot on the trail of Babe Ruth at that point.  You were right in the middle of Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine.  Roberto Clemente was killed right before the season started in a plane crash.  So there was no shortage of big stories that were a factor in 1973.  The author has mentioned some of these events in passing throughout the book, but nothing of any substantial merit, so I think he missed the boat there.

I understand the reasoning of why you would not want to spend any great amount of time talking about teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians, who were perennial bottom feeders in that era, but I think you would still want to address the full state of baseball if you were writing about one single season.  There were so many different things going on that it would have enable the reader to get a much broader picture of what was truly happening in the game of baseball during 1973.

By far this is not a bad book.  It covers the subjects it chooses to, very well.  Silverman is thorough and puts a fun spin on the events of 73.  He has created a good product that is definitely worth reading, just readers should be aware that it covers a few subjects very heavily, while passing over some of the events of that year of particular importance.

Perhaps I am just spoiled by books like Dan Epstein’s Stars and Strikes that covered the 1976 season, and now I hold all season books to that standard.  I don’t think any fan with an interest in 1973 will be disappointed, I just think the author missed his chance to paint a much broader picture of the magic that was 1973.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press

Swinging ’73

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

 

Ty Cobb – A Terrible Beauty


There are players in the history of baseball that transcend all of time.  No matter how much time passes they are in conversations and debates almost on a daily basis.  Names like Mantle, DiMaggio, Williams,  Mays, Aaron, Bonds and Rose are all names that will forever be talked about and for the most part held in high regard.  Regardless of their transgressions on and off the field they are still beloved by many.  There are others that the exact opposite is true of.  One such person is Ty Cobb. More than a few books have been written about The Georgia Peach and his exploits and honestly up until now most have not been complimentary.  There was a new book published this year that attempts to change how we feel about Ty Cobb.

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By: Charles Leerhsen – 2015

Charles Leerhsen took on a pretty big task in trying to change Ty Cobb’s image.  It seems we as baseball fans and as a society were pretty set in our opinions of Cobb.  We accepted the facts that he was a cut throat player willing to win at any cost.  We also accepted the fact that he was a raging racist during his life.  Basically we all were comfortable accepting the fact that he was an all around SOB.  Through other books that were written, most of these facts were able to be backed up by stories and first hand accounts, and even though we now know a few may have been fabrications, we were all pretty set in our opinions.  But what if we are wrong?

The author, through newspaper articles, interviews and some of Cobb’s own writings has tried to get to the real man behind the image.  He does an in-depth look at the personality and the behavior of the man set in his own era.  He attempts to dispel rumors, expose certain truths as fraud and show the gentler, kinder side of ole’ Ty.

This book gets its point across very eloquently and does pose some very interesting questions for the reader.  Perhaps the biggest question I had at the end of this is were we wrong?  I don’t know for sure honestly, but it definitely has raised some serious questions in my mind.  Cobb’s grandson Herschel wrote a book about Ty last year and that to me started the ball rolling in my mind that maybe we have the story a little skewed.  I finished the book and still in my own mind have no definitive answers on Ty Cobb, but I have opened up to the possibility that the accepted story may not at the very least be accurate.

I recommend this book to any and all baseball fans because if nothing else it will start to make you wonder.  It is written very well and moves along nicely.  It is not a mindless biography and it forces the reader to contemplate whether they still accept the opinions we have previously accepted as fact.  Maybe someone will also help me figure out what I think about the whole subject, because I am still not sure.

Ty Cobb – A Terrible Beauty

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

The Hall – A Celebration of Baseball’s Greats


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 Official 75th Anniversary Book-2014

The Official 75th Anniversary Book 2014

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

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/the-national-baseball-hall-of-fame-and-museum/the-hall-a-celebration-of-baseballs-greats/9780316213028/

Happy Reading

Gregg

The 50 Greatest……….Fill in the Blank


It’s the day after the 2015 All-Star Game and MLB has released the Franchise Four for each of the teams.  Depending on your personal feelings you may agree or disagree with the results, but honestly how do you even measure such things?  Anytime one compiles a list of the Greatest of anything, how much of it is really objective and how much of it is emotionally based.  I know my Franchise Four votes all had some sort of emotional tie to them.  So where does this fit in with Baseball books?  There are hundreds of books out there that compile some sort of all-time greatest list.  So how do you know when you are getting an objective view, instead of what that particular author thinks?  I think I have found two that are good sources for the fans.

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Both of the above books were written by Lew Freedman and released in 2015.  If that name sounds familiar to veteran baseball readers, it is because Freeman has penned dozens of books about baseball in the past and these are two of his latest.  Freedman is a veteran sportswriter that likes to delve into the obscure and often forgotten names of the game.  Here he has compiled lists of the 50 greatest players to wear the respective team uniforms.  I have read a few of Freedman’s works in the past and always found the books to be educational and historically honest.  I expected no different from these titles.

I will start with the Pirates book.  They have been in Pittsburgh for a very long time and had some very big names call the steel city home.  So I thought it was going to be hard to limit the pick to just the 50 greatest.  Some of the names were easy picks such as, Clemente, Stargell, Kiner, Wagner and Traynor.  But then there were a few others that at first glance made me ask why, names such as Hebner, Giles, Kendall, Bonilla and Thomas.  Each chapter in the book ranging from 3-8 pages is dedicated to each player.  You get a career bio, personal bio and why that player was special to his team.  Even though the chapters are brief it does give you just enough information to see why that player was a vital cog in the machine.  It gives a nice quick, detailed and informative overview of some of the greatest names to ever wear the uniform.

The Tigers book follows the exact same format and allows the reader to see who has stopped in the Motor City throughout their storied history.  Cobb, Kaline, Gehringer, Greenberg and Kell were all easy picks for this list for me.  But names like Steve Kemp and Pat Mullin made me scratch my head and ask why.  The value in these books is that the name might surprise you, but the facts help back up the pick.  So there is knowledge to be gained for the reader if you are not very familiar with each specific team history.

These type of books also have another feature, beyond just being able to read them.  If you ask 100 people to compile this list, you will get 100 different replies.  If you and your friends enjoy talking about the history of the game, these books become both great conversation starters and reference guides.  The format of the book being each player is his own chapter makes finding facts about that particular player a breeze.  These books will be a valuable asset in a fans library if ever some fact checking needed to be done to win a bet.

Each of Lew Freedman’s books I have read in the past have all met a very high standard and these two new ones are no exception.  Fans of the specific teams will love them and have the knowledge to agree or disagree with the picks in the books.  If your knowledge of the specific team is not very strong these books are still valuable to the reader.  It will allow you to strengthen your knowledge of some of the greats and not so greats in the game’s history, as well as decide whom you really think are the 50 greatest players of that team.  In the end you may not agree with all 50 of the picks but it definitely gets you to start thinking.

You can get these books from the nice folks at Cardinal Publishing Group

http://www.cardinalpub.com/store/50-greatest-tigers-every-fan-know/

http://www.cardinalpub.com/store/50-greatest-tigers-every-fan-know/

Happy Reading

Gregg

Milwaukee Braves-Heroes and Heartbreak


I can not even the imagine the pain involved with being a fan of a team, and then one day they are gone.  They cease to exist for whatever reason.  Perhaps they just moved to another city or became a new franchise altogether in a new location. Being a Phillies fan my entire life I have been lucky enough, or cursed depending on how you look at it, to have them in the same place for my 40-plus years.  Fans in Montreal, St.Louis and of course Washington understand the pain I am talking about, but what about Milwaukee.  They had the Braves for over a decade and had sustained success in that town, then one day they were gone.  Today’s book take a look at their short stay in Milwaukee and the glory that accompanied it

By:william Povletich-2009 Wisconson Historical Society Press

By:William Povletich-2009 Wisconson Historical Society Press

William Povletich has created a really entertaining and informative book.  He takes an in-depth look at the Braves 13 year stay in Wisconsin, where they never had a losing season.  If that wasn’t a match made in heaven for the Braves fans, what is?  The author has a special passion for the Milwaukee Braves that comes through in his writing which is an enjoyable aspect of this book.

Weaving through their short stay in Milwaukee starting with their arrival from Boston, you see the move to their new home and their ascension to the World Series.  You see the how the Braves were able to maintain winning seasons in their new town and able to garner some fan support of the quality players they provided for fan enjoyment.  Alas, it was not to be and you see how the Braves were drawn in by Atlanta and eventually left for greener pastures.

The pictures included in this book are really great.  I have read a few Braves books like this in the past and don’t ever remember seeing photos like these.  One other aspect of the book that is enjoyable is the player interviews.  The guys who actually played in Milwaukee during those glory years give you their take on events and how they unfolded.

Even if you have read other books about the Milwaukee Braves, you should still check this one out.  This books writing style and photos give it an entirely different feel than some of the others.  Each book offers different things about the same subject, and this one has earned its rightful place among them.  Braves fans will not be disappointed.

You can get this book from the nice folks at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press

http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whspress/books/book.asp?book_id=342

Happy Reading

Gregg