Tagged: Houston Astros

Toy Cannon – The Autobiography of Baseball’s Jimmy Wynn


There are teams out there that have through their history had iconic players.  When you think of the Yankees, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle always pop to mind.  For the Red Sox, Ted Williams is the man.  What if you are a team that does not have a century long history in the game and has had limited success on the field.  The Tampa Rays come to mind with having no one that has been a stand out player and really have had limited success.  The Astros and the Mets both entered the league together and have taken different paths.  The journey of the  Mets has generated a bunch of post-season births, coupled with a few World Series championships and a roster of iconic players.  The Astros on the other hand have had limited success and a handful of post season appearances. With their past performance it is surprising how many great players the Houston Astros have had during their time in the league.  One name that immediately pops to mind is the iconic Jimmy Wynn.  Essentially being there from the beginning when they were still the Colt 45’s, Wynn’s performance on the field and his down to earth nature easily made him a force to be reckoned with on the field and a fan favorite off of it. While today’s book is not a new release, I wanted to share it because it really is an enjoyable tale.

 

41o4jpTGhTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

By: Jimmy Wynn-2010

In today’s terms Jimmy Wynn was a stud.  Being the player on the top of the Houston power heap, Wynn was able to give the Astros someone to build a team around during their formative years in the league.  Unfortunately for both parties they were never able to reach the ultimate goal of a visit to the World Series during their time together.

This is not like reading a regular book, it is more like sitting on the porch with your friend and listening to his stories.  Wynn walks the reader through his childhood in Cincinnati and his dreams of one day being a big league baseball player.  You get a nice look at the Wynn family values and how those ideals helped produce a fine person in Jimmy Wynn.  Next you see the minor league struggles that brought Wynn from the hometown Reds farm system to the fields of Houston.

A good portion of this book is rightly so about his time with the Astros.  He his most widely known for his accomplishments on the field there and where he spent the biggest bulk of his career, so it is only natural it takes up so much space in the book.  Jimmy tells the reader about events both on and off the field that have helped him both learn and grow as a person, as well as the mistakes he has made along the way that effected his life. Finally the book takes us through stops with the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees and Brewers.  It is a career well traveled and a lot of accomplishments that any player would be proud of.

The most surprising thing is that Jimmy Wynn admits his flaws and his mistakes he has made over the years.  Most baseball players would not take the time to admit these things at all, let alone do it in their autobiography.  It really shows the depth of character he has and what a genuine person he really is.

The book is a great read for all baseball fans.  It shows the real side of a baseball star and how they are human just like the rest of us and have their own faults.  It also shows how a player of this caliber can admit his faults and shows there is no shame in asking forgiveness from those you have wronged.  Check it out, I don’t think you will be disappointed..

You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland

Toy Cannon-Jimmy Wynn

Happy Reading

Gregg

A Life Full of Changes and One Final Hurrah!


Every once in a while I wander out of my library on the blog and become just an everyday baseball fan.  Content with enjoying the baseball world around me and taking in the sites, sounds and smells of the game I love.  Tonight is one of those times there are no books involved with the post but still about the game I love.

Life is ever evolving and changing.  Nothing stays the same for long and part of life is adapting those changes.  Some changes are better than others, but this is easily one of the better ones that comes along.  My wife and I are expecting our first little future big leaguer or ball girl in August, and yes he or she will be rooting for the Phillies………no exceptions to that rule!

12715551_1270809126281058_3793341186271134837_n

We are very excited about this new chapter of our lives, honestly a little nervous and sometimes overwhelmed at the thought of it all.  But on the bright side, people have been doing these for a long time, so how bad can we screw it up?  We both decided we wanted to take a final vacation before our little Phanatic arrives and thought of all the usual spots, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, but nothing was saying this is truly the last real vacation you will have for the next decade or two…………but then it hit us.

We could pull off the ultimate baseball vacation.  Eight days, six MLB stadiums and one Minor League morning game, mostly because I want to say I went to a baseball game and ate an egg mcmuffin while watching it.  We have an itinerary that is a little aggressive but I think we can pull this off, as long as the woman next to me who will be six months pregnant at the time keeps a sense of humor about this trip.

The plan is as follows:

Sat 5/21-Braves @ Phillies (Citizens Bank Park)

Sun 5/22-Rockies @ Pirates (PNC Field)

Mon 5/23-Indians @ White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

Tue 5/24-Off Day-Every team needs at least one

Wed 5/25-Phillies @ Tigers (Comerica Park)

Thur 5/26-Toledo Mud Hens-10:30 a.m. game (If you are going to a minor league game it just should be the Mud Hens.  Maybe Klinger will be there)

Fri 5/27-Phillies @ Cubs (Wrigley Field)

Sat 5/28-Orioles @ Indians (Progressive Field)

This is as of right now our trip, hopefully it will be fun and memorable.  Of course three Phillies games in one week was not by accident either. It is a lot of driving between cities, but nothing too over bearing I think.  Now if anyone who is reading this has stuck with me this far, I thank you for hanging in here, but I need your help.

If anyone out there has any ideas of something we shouldn’t miss in these cities on this trip, drop me a line.  If anyone has any ideas or lives in any of these towns and wants to meet the book blogging guy, let me know maybe we can meet up somewhere.  If anyone knows anyone who works for any of these teams that we are visiting and help us add to this experience and wants to reach out to them for us it would also  be appreciated.

I am going to do a daily blog on this trip to give everyone an update on each of the stadiums we are visiting.  Perhaps by doing this we can inspire some other fans to take the same journey.  Hey, if I can do this with a pregnant woman, you don’t have much of an excuse now do you.  This is our farewell journey in this part of our lives, so before we open the door to the next chapter we figured one last hurrah was in order.

If anyone has any ideas please don’t hesitate to drop me a line and thanks for the help folks.  Baseball is what brings us all together and hopefully makes our own worlds a little brighter.

Happy Reading……….or travelling

Gregg

 

 

Still Throwing Heat-Strikeouts, the Streets and a Second Chance


When you think of the Houston Astros in the 1970’s, one of the first names that comes to mind is J.R.Richard.  Being a tall and lanky pitcher with a blazing fastball, he combined both of these attributes to scare the crap out of hitters throughout the National League.  In an era in Houston before Nolan Ryan, Richard was the ace on the staff of the young up and coming group.  With the signing of Nolan Ryan the Astros became a force to be reckoned within the league and the sky was the limit for everyone. Then one day the glass ceiling shattered and for one player life would never be the same.

51sr3xgt+UL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

By: J.R. Richard & Lew Freedman-2015

I was really looking forward to this one.  I was always a fan of J.R.’s growing up and remember him in the Astros uniforms of the late 70’s.  I remember hearing of his stroke and trying to follow his comeback as best a fan who lived in Philadelphia in 1980 could.  The translation of that last sentence means I could not follow it very well.  So between the story line and Lew Freedman working on this book I expected a winner.  I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

The book follows a back and forth format.  Each chapter starts with an overview of what that chapter is going to cover, presumably in the words of Freeman.  Then it shifts to Richard sharing his story.  It is a good format that works very well for this book, instead of trying to make it all seem like J.R. doing all of the storytelling.

The book covers a great deal of topics in Richard’s life.  It talks about his poor upbringing, his trek through the minors and then finally arriving in Houston to stay.  The biggest part of this book is of course, talking about his unfortunate stroke and the devastating after effects it has had on his entire life.  He shows you how his career was never able to be revived, how marriages failed, business dealings went bad and all the things that eventually led to him living on the streets of Houston.

One would think after all of this J.R. Richard would be extremely bitter, but I found just the opposite in this story.  He has been lucky enough to find God and get his life back on track.  He has through his faith been able to understand his past, and accept it for who it has helped him become.  It really is a remarkable story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles in one’s life.  He shows great character and is a better man than I ever could because of his outlook of his own life.  If it was me that had to struggle through all of this, I don’t ever think I could have kept the positive outlook he was able to maintain.

There has not been a lot of things published on J.R. in the past, so this book really helps fans understand what truly went on in J.R. Richard’s life. All baseball fans should check this out it really is both an enjoyable and remarkable story.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books

Still Throwing Heat

Happy Reading and Merry Christmas to all, may Santa be nice to your library this year.

Gregg

 

 

Headed Home – A MLB All-Star’s Search for the Truth


Reading baseball books can sometimes be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you get the inside story of what really happened.  On the other, you see that our baseball heroes are human too.  For me growing up in Philly, Glenn Wilson was one of those heroes. I spent many summer days at the Vet watching Glenbo roaming the outfield.  He also ties into one special childhood memory I have. It was early in the 1985 season and it was Tastykake team player card giveaway day.  I remember sitting in the outfield stands watching Glenn play with grace.  It took some convincing to get my Dad to go to the game, and my Grandfather came along as well.  It was the only time the three of us ever went to a game together, and for no particular reason Glenn Wilson always stuck out in my mind from that day.  For that reason alone, I was pretty exited to jump into this book.

download (7)

Glenn Wilson and Darrell Halk-2012 Lucid Books

When you are a kid you think your favorite players have to be good guys.  How else could they be?  I mean really you think they are awesome so why wouldn’t they be.  But sometimes reality does not quite live up to expectations and that happens here.  Glenn Wilson flat-out admits during his baseball career that he was somewhat of a jerk.  He admits he might not have appreciated the talent he was given and felt he was owed something.  That right off the bat has to be hard for anyone to admit, I know I couldn’t do it.  So now that my childhood reality was shattered I jumped further into this book and found it to be very interesting.

Glenbo reviews his years of growing up and making it to the majors.  He talks about some of his family and how they helped him along the way.  He also talks about his time with the Tigers and his disappointment in being traded to the Phillies.  Struggles in Philadelphia are talked about along with some other issues in other cities along his journey.  He takes the time to be honest with the reader and not try to sugar coat any of his behavior.  If he was a jerk about something he freely admitted it.

His struggles after leaving baseball was something I never heard about before, and to Glenn’s credit he is very honest with himself and the reader.  As a reader I appreciate it when the player is honest with me.  It adds loads of credibility to his story instead of just writing a book for a money grab.  The bottom line of this story is that after baseball and some personal issues Glenn was a broken man.  What happens next is something that I found most interesting.

Glenn turns to his faith and trusted in God and that faith helped him transform his life.  I will not go in to great details here of the way God has helped Glenn transform his life and become a better person.  You will have to read the book to get that story, but quite honestly it is a very remarkable story.  I sometimes shy away from books that have a religious aspect to them, because they don’t always come off as genuine and that to me is the ultimate disrespect.  That being said, this story is absolutely amazing and the effect it has had on Glenn Wilson’s life has been remarkable.

If you are a fan of Glenn Wilson’s this is a really good book and worth reading.  He is brutally honest about his life and himself, on and off the field.  This book is also a good read if you are having troubles in your own life, because it shows the strength you are able to find by turning to God.

Now if only someday I can get my Tastykake photo signed to complete my childhood dream!

You can get this book from the nice folks at Lucid Books

http://www.lucidbooks.net/book-store/headed-home/

Happy Reading

Gregg

Perfect-The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek


Success is fleeting.  For some people it is faster than others.  Some players it lasts twenty years and for others it can only be one day.  No matter its length of time, it will eventually vanish, and all you are left with is memories.  For John Paciorek the game of baseball allowed him one day of immortality and generated hopes of long-range success.  That grand success was never to be, but now there is a book that lets readers take a glimpse of the one game wonder that finished with a perfect career.

51p0rBWMfrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

By:Steven K. Wagner-Breakaway Books 2014

John Paciorek was a hometown hero.  Brought forth from a family of standout athletes, he showed the promise of greatness on high school teams that garnered the attention of the Houston Colt 45’s.  In today’s game Paciorek would be considered a can’t miss prospect and all sorts of attention would be paid to him to make sure he had an All-Star career.  Due to a series of back problems an All-Star career was not in the cards for Paciorek, but he did get to play in one single game for the Colt 45’s in 1963 and went a perfect 3 for 3 at the plate.  This feat was something that had never happened before or since and left the slugger with a perfect 1.000 career batting average.  It was a game that left John with the distinction of the only payer with more than one at bat in the major leagues to have a perfect career batting average.  That officially makes him the answer to a trivia question.

Author Steven K.Wagner has undertaken the task of sharing John Paciorek’s career story with the whole world.  He covers his humble upbringings in Michigan, through his high school years highlights.  You see a complete picture of the background and values of the local star athlete.  Next you see John’s progression through the minor leagues and his eventual call up to the Colt 45’s.  That brief stint with the Colts leads to one game in which John takes the field.  The book takes in-depth analysis of the one game John played in and shows how every single event transpired that day.  It also unfortunately shows how things did not work out in John’s career after that great game.  A nice portion of the book shows John’s life after baseball and what you find is a man who is at peace with the hand he was dealt in life.  Paciorek does not seem bitter at all, especially as one might think he would after his brother Tom had a successful major league career for several years.

It is a good book for all readers who like to learn about obscurity in baseball.  It is well written and tells the complete story of both the man and the player, and allows John to become more than just a footnote in baseball history.  Books like this I feel are necessary so that we don’t lose the minor things to the passage of time in our sport.  He will always be that trivia question answer, but now we are able to understand his full story.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Breakaway Books

http://www.breakawaybooks.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Houston Astros-Deep in the Heart


There are several teams within Major League Baseball that just get no respect.  Sometimes the reason may be their own ineptitude, financial shortcomings or even as simple as being a group of unlikable guys.  Teams that come to mind are the Miami Marlins, Washington Senators,  Philadelphia and K.C. Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros just to name a few out there.  They all have their place in history and it is not always negative.  The loyal fan bases that these teams maintain always hold out that glimmer of hope for next year and the fortunes that may come their way.  Todays book takes the time to celebrate one of those team that struggles to be respected.

astros

Houston Astros-Deep in the Heart

By:Bill Brown & Mike Acosta-Bright Sky Press 2013

The Houston Astros were born out of National League expansion in 1962.  Originally named the Colt 45’s, they started play with a bunch of over the hill and wet behind the ears players.  They spent more than a decade languishing near the bottom of the standings before reaping the fruits of their labor and becoming perennial contenders for the fans of Houston.  Unfortunately like most things in life, baseball standings come full circle and the Astros are rebuilding for the future once again.

Bill Brown and Mike Acosta have compiled a book that shows the pride the fans of the Astros have in their beloved team.  They show that you don’t always have to meet prettiest girl at the dance to find true love.  Like most teams that have a loyal following, the fans of Houston are proud of their team and its heritage no matter how they finish.

This book is really great.  It has 11 different chapters and breaks the 50 plus years of Houston baseball into each.  You learn about the stadiums the Astros have called home.  You learn about a variety of different players and off field personnel that have worn Houston’s colors proudly.  Finally you see the Astros high points on the field, most recently being the 2005 World Series.  One part of this book I though was interesting is that is it gives a glimpse into the future of the Astros, it shows rising stars they are hoping will propel the team to new heights.  I also found that I had no idea who has actually played for the Astros during their existence.  The Houston portion of some players career’s may have been short, but there were some big time names that hung their hat in Houston for a bit.

The pictures in this book are of great quality.  You get a chance to see some never before seen shots that make you feel like you were there.  I for some reason wish I had the chance to see a game at the Astrodome, but never did.  So I always like seeing old pictures of the eighth wonder of the world, and this book does not disappoint at all!

Astros fans will love this book.  Fans of team history as well.  Books like this always have a place in our bookcases.  They allow fans to go back and relive the memories they have and add that special nostalgic magic to it.  As we all know that nostalgic magic can make things seem better and more enjoyable than they really were, but sometimes we all need that in life.  Also when you order this book it arrives with a bag of baseball candy and a bag of Cracker Jack in the box.  What is more enjoyable or nostalgic in baseball than Cracker Jack????

You can get this book from the nice folks at Bright Sky Press

http://www.brightskypress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg