I find it fascinating that within the history of baseball there are still forgotten Superstars. We have left no stone unturned in the documentation of the game, yet there are still players that do not get the respect or recognition they deserve. Napoleon Lajoie is one of those players that falls into this group. Yes he has gotten his plaque in Cooperstown and no one can take away his monster career numbers, but to me he always seems like an afterthought. Perhaps timing comes into play here, being a part of the same generation as some of the games premier immortals, forcing him out of the spotlight. Today’s book acknowledges his undeserved existence living in the shadows of the game’s bigger stars.
In all honesty, I know of Napoleon Lajoie and his great contributions to the game, but I am not very well read on him. I thought that was somewhat odd for a Hall of Famer, but after a little research I now know that there are not that many Lajoie bios’s on the market. So I was hoping with this book to learn a little bit more in depth about both the man and the player. I got some of what I wanted, but not all of it.
This book is not a beginning to end Napoleon Lajoie biography as it is billed. It is a series of anecdotes, poems, photos and other assorted bits that give the reader a very good feel for what baseball was like during this period. Now it also dedicated a good portion of the book to Napoleon Lajoie and his storied career as one would expect. How he was loved by his fans and how he lived his years after baseball. The final chapter of this book shares a conversation between Ty Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie on a warm Florida afternoon a few years before their respective deaths, which I found very interesting. It gave a brief glimpse of the immense pride of these two greats of the game.
The down side of this book for me was that this book was not a full Lajoie biography. It was an opportunity missed for new generations to learn in depth about an oft forgotten Hall of Fame career. My other pet peeve with this book was misspelled words and overall poor editing. Just a pet peeve that arises from time to time for me as an avid reader.
So in the end something is better than nothing at all. It didn’t give me enough of the Lajoie information that I was hoping for, but fans of this period should still enjoy it. Hopefully Lajoie is not one of those early superstars of the game who eventually fades into oblivion, as generations go by.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Stillwater River Publications
If you are looking for a book review tonight unfortunately you have come to the wrong place. Being the name sake of this blog provides me the opportunity to have a public venting session when needed. So please if you all will, amuse me tonight and let me complain so that by tomorrow I will be in a better frame of mind and will return to what I normally do around here…….baseball books and all that go with it.
For those of you who haven’t heard, my wife and I are expecting our first child in August. To celebrate the event we were going to take an epic trip in May and visit six MLB stadiums in eight days along with one Minor League stop in there as well. Here is the link to the original story if you missed it. We had some good responses and ideas from a few of my readers to some things we should not miss at the places we were going. We also had some preliminary contact with a couple of the teams we were going to visit so it was looking like it was all going to come together nicely and be a fun trip. Until today, when my little black cloud, that seems to follow me almost everywhere, showed its ugly face once again and rained all over our trip. You may ask, what has happened that would be so crappy to ruin our epic trip……..here let me show you…………….
That is a wonderful x-ray of my spine. The same spine that now requires surgery and some sort of implant to fix and has essentially screwed us out of our trip. I will be out of commission for at least a month and that falls right during the month of May. So instead of following the Phillies from city to city, and eating an Egg Mcmuffin in Toledo at a baseball game, I will be sitting at home on the couch with my head buried in another baseball book.
My wife has brought up the proposition of doing this trip next summer with our new little bundle of joy in tow, but I haven’t 100% signed off that idea yet. I do think having the new addition along would be a great bonus to the trip, I am just not sure how easy that much travel would be with someone that little.
I would like to think there is some sort of reason this has happened now and that we are better off staying home. But more than likely, it is just my black cloud following me again. So all the above being said if anyone has some ideas for books I should check out during my several week recuperation let me know. I have a few weeks until my surgery date, but will still have several weeks at home to read.
So that’s the plan, we will make that my silver lining in all of this and hopefully get some new recommendations from my readers. I have lots of faith in the folks I talk to in baseball book land and have already read a few of your ideas. So I look forward to and also appreciate any ideas you all have.
Thanks for reading my rant, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to listen to me whine and complain……………now back to your regular scheduled book reviews.
When you are #2 at something it has to be difficult. Everyone always remembers who the first to do something was, but sometimes the importance when you are second is diminished. In baseball, when you come in second in anything, it isn’t a good thing. Being Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball, I figured we should take a look at the man who was the second person to integrate baseball. He was the first in the American League, but second overall, so we should not forget him on this momentous day.
Larry Doby was the first player to integrate the American League in 1947 with the Cleveland Indians. He arrived roughly 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson integrated the National League with the Dodgers. The racial climate being what it was at that time, the challenges Doby faced were no different from the struggles of Robinson. Intolerance, segregation and violence were just some of the challenges both men faced at that time. Each man handled themselves with dignity and were assets to both of their teams on and off the field. Unfortunately when you are the #2 guy, you don’t always get the same praise that the #1 guy gets.
Such is the case with Larry Doby. There are tons of biographies about Jackie Robinson and his efforts, but Doby seems to be a neglected subject. There are a few biographies out there on Doby, but today’s book takes a look at the struggles he faced with the Indians. Honestly between Robinson and Doby it was two different men in two different cities but the same old problems. Both were pioneers in their own right but again its #1 versus #2, and in the end #2 lives in the shadow of #1.
This book takes a nice look at Doby’s career and what he accomplished on and off the field. Larry Doby may not have been as outspoken on matters as Jackie Robinson, or even Satchel Paige for that matter, but he did leave an undeniable mark on the game for all of time. Doby was a quiet man and that probably plays into the fact that his legacy gets run over by Robinson’s. It’s time as fans we take the time to give Larry Doby his due and learn as much as we can about his great career.
Fans should pick up this book and enjoy a little history lesson. The pioneers of baseball endured incredible pain to become part of the game, and that struggle did not begin and end with just Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
You can pick up this book from the nice folks at Praeger Publishers
Cleveland fans have no illusions about their team history. The Indians were the doormat of the American League for decades. Flashes of greatness came and went, with nothing substantial to show for it. Happily, the fortunes changed in the decade of the 90’s. With the opening of a new stadium and new ownership breathing new life into the tired franchise, the Indians fans time had finally come. Well as with most things in life, all good things come to an end, and the Indians were in the crapper once again. Today’s book shows how the Indians took on a plan to rebuild again in hopes of finding new success on the field.
Terry Pluto loves his Indians. Being a home-grown Cleveland guy, he has taken on the Indians a few different times in his books and always produced quality, insightful results. Pluto’s newest topic is the rebuilding of the Indians after their success of the late 90’s and eventual decline due to the normal baseball shift of power. This book discusses ownership, players, management, the stadium and everything in between that has contributed to the downfall of the Cleveland Indians.
You can always tell through his writings that Terry Pluto is a homegrown Cleveland guy. That being said, it does not seem to have a negative effect on his work. You can see an intense passion towards the city and the team, as well as his personal caring about them. What it doesn’t do is incorporate any sort of bias about the team. He is quite honest in his assessments of the moves the Tribe has made and the final results of such moves. He is honest in his assessments of the players and management and the future plans of the team.
The most interesting aspect of this entire book was his look at ownership change and the newness of Jacobs field wearing off. It is interesting to see how these two things have such a great effect on the team you see on the field. Change in ownership can usher in a change of culture that affects the entire team. It effects who makes what decisions and that can wreck all sorts of havoc for a team. Also when a stadium loses its newness, naturally attendance will drop if the product on the field is not all that good and that is another challenge a team then has to overcome. These are all things every team will face at one point or another, and it’s actually something my Phillies are going through currently. This book is a little dated and the Indians are really now on the second round of rebuilding but the same basic principles and problems are still applicable. At least this time around they seem to be heading in the right direction.
This is a very good book and will easily appeal to Indians fans. Some general baseball fans may have a little trouble getting into it, but should really give it a chance, because eventually your own team will be facing the same problems and doing the exact same thing.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Gray & Company Publishers
Bill Veeck has been called a lot of things through the years. Innovator, Showman, Maverick, the P.T. Barnum of baseball and of course some other not so many nice names. A definite man before his time, no matter how many books come out about old Sportshirt Bill, I feel the need to read them.
Bill Veeck, Baseballs Greatest Maverick
By:Paul Dickson-Walker & Company 2012
Bill Veeck always seemed to be the friend of the average fan. From early beginnings with his father working for the Chicago Cubs, Bill spent a lifetime sharing his love of the game. Working various jobs for the Cubs he cut his teeth in the field, and went on to team ownership. With stops in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cleveland and Chicago, Veeck left an indelible mark on baseball that while unconventional at the time would be appreciated today.
Paul Dickson undertakes the task of fitting all of Veeck’s exploits into one book. He visits all of Bill’s baseball stops and the shenanigans that earned him some of the nicknames I mentioned above. Ladies nights, midgets, game day give aways and of course disco demolition etched Bill’s name into baseball history. Dickson also looks at Veeck’s activities outside of baseball including running a horse track. Veeck had so many innovations both in and out of baseball that he could almost be called spectacular.
Truly an ambassador for baseball, Veeck was rightly enshrined in the Hall of Fame shortly after his death in 1986. But what I find even better about this book is you see the principled man who stood upon that wooden leg——that he used most times as an ash tray. From civil rights to baseball integration to countless other causes that presented themselves in society. Bill Veeck had several causes he thought were worth fighting for. This shows the worth of the man himself. He may not been popular with the other owners for several different reasons, but as a person Bill Veeck seems like a really great guy. This is finally the biography Bill Veeck deserves. It portrays a complete and accurate picture of the man who was well before his time and someone to be admired for his forethought and decency for his fellow-man.
Paul Dickson did a great job with this book. It is one of the best pieces I have ever read on Veeck and anyone who is any kind of fan of Veeck should read it. There may be some duplicity in some of the stories you have heard before, but the painted picture is complete. He may have made a lot of owners angry through the years, but he made lots more people happy and in the end, that’s what matters. He leaves a legacy that should be appreciated for all time.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Walker & Co.
Sometimes families can be difficult. Sometimes difficult is an understatement! Personality conflicts and generation gaps are just a few of the problems that arise within a family dynamic. There are things we encounter in life that overcome those family quarrels and create a bond strong enough to endure the dysfunction. Sometimes these bonds between family members are so strong and also subtle enough that the people involved don’t even realize they were created at the time. Today’s book shows how it happens when you are not even paying attention.
By:Terry Pluto 1999-Gray & Co Publishers
I really should go into most books with no expectations, because as we have seen in my previous posts a lot of these books are not what I expected. This book is no exception. I assumed that this was going to be a book about the high and low points of the Cleveland Indians. Happily I can say it was so much more. It was the authors personal look back at what the Indians meant to him and his own Dad.
Terry Pluto, who is a life-long Cleveland Indians fan, highlights both the highs and lows of the Tribe history. Honestly they were the same highs and lows that everyone associates with the Indians, so you were not getting much new information there. What made the book more interesting for me was the author discusses how he and his Father had a relationship formed around the Indians.
Pluto gives you a glimpse into his own world and personal memories of growing up of the Tribe. Special times with his Dad also involving the Tribe are highlighted throughout the book. The reflections on his childhood and adult life involving his father seem to have been precipitated by a serious stroke his Father had several years before his death. It shows that even though communication channels had been broken, the Indians still afforded an avenue to connect. The book also allowed the author to reflect on his relationship as a whole with his Father and the short-comings on both their parts throughout their lives.
As stated above the book was much more than expected and in the end made me reflect on my own relationship with my Father. It made me look back at the relationship I have had through the years with my own Dad. I had realized that through the years whatever point in life we were at individually, the Phillies always brought us back to the same point, and be able to communicate. From taking me to my first game, the 1977 NLCS at Veterans Stadium to this very day, it has been the strongest common ground. Baseball as a whole has always been our center to build from. Now 30 plus years later I appreciate all the times playing catch after a hard days work. I now realize that he probably didn’t feel like doing it, but did because he loved me. Fathers sometimes have a funny way of showing their kids they love them, but in the end you know they do.
Baseball fans should really enjoy this book. It really helps you remember what make the game of baseball so special to so many people. Even if you hate the Indians you should still probably read this one.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Gray&Co Publishers
Let me start this out by saying I respect Bob Feller. I respect his outstanding Pitching career and his Hall of Fame stature. I respect his service to our great country and the career sacrifices he made to perform his service. I also respect the ambassador that he was to great game of Baseball.
Now all that being said I don’t always understand what purpose a book like this serves. I really expected like the title says some Baseball Wisdom. I did not expect the obligatory childhood background. I figured that was something that was covered in some of the other Feller books he had written. But what I got on this was stories about his childhood and the typical way that an elder statesman would put it…..walking uphill to school both ways 20 miles each way in a blinding blizzard in July. I expected some stories about his career or personal insights in to the locker room. Instead you get his thoughts on why any generation after the 1950’s basically suck.
The book comes off as to some degree bitter about why subsequent generations after his never worked hard enough and he had the best upbringing in the world and no one could have had a better childhood. Bob Feller name drops a lot in this book. Almost every person he talks about in the book when you get to the end of their paragraph he ends it “with that’s why they are a close personal friend of mine”. Well I am no bright informed reader but I sort of figured if you were talking about them like that …..well then you guys were probably friends to some degree.
Its starts with his childhood of which no one in the world had more loving parents or had a better childhood. Then moves to his career of which he was not shy as to say how great he was then to his proud military service which I as stated above respect. Then we move back to his career after the service then life after baseball then the world after baseball that seems to nowhere meet the work ethic and standard of Bob Feller. Don’t even ask about Steroids and Hall of Fame standards because that seems to be hot button with him as well.
The Book flows well in the fact that it is broken up into very small subject versus being broken into longer chapters which makes it feel as if its moving quickly even when belaboring a point. But at least it is a short read in being under 150 pages.
I really wanted this book to be good…..I swear I did just because of my respect for Bob Feller. But as I said above he does come off somewhat bitter about the world today and the people of today. It almost seemed as is if this would be something that you would hear from your crotchety old grandfather when complaining about what lazy slackers his grand kids are. I don’t know if this is because it was later in his life that this was written or if time has just left him bitter overall. But the end result was I was disappointed in the book overall but did lead me to my next question….If I read his other book, Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book…..what am I going to get different…..because it was written six years after this one.
The piece of irony about this book for me is as follows and really has nothing to do with the book itself. I traded a signed Jose Canseco Baseball for a signed copy of this book. So I traded a baseball of an evil steroids user…..one of the people he despises for a copy of his book. So somewhere out there in the Universe or beyond I think Bob Feller is pretty pissed at me….especially after this review!