It’s that time of year again. The malls are packed, packages are getting wrapped, the credit cards are melting and for us procrastinators, the last-minute shopping rush is on. If you are shopping for a Baseball book lover you may have a hard time deciding what to get that special someone. Don’t fear because I have a few last minute ideas for you.
Up first is the new book released this year by Greg Lucas, and quite honestly it could not have come at a more opportune time. With winning the World Series this year, anything about the Astros is a hot commodity. They have a rich and storied history and while it may be shorter than some of the other teams, they have still had some big names come through the Lone Star state.
Houston to Cooperstown takes a look at the overall history of the franchise. From its inception in 1962, Lucas walks you through the history of the upstart franchise, through its time in the Astrodome, finally reaching some success on the field and highlighting it with its two newest members in Cooperstown, Biggio and Bagwell. Next Lucas shows how the team moved to its next stage of existence, getting to their new ballpark, reaching the World Series for the first time and the epic rebuild that helped them win the World Series this year.
For the die-hard Astros fan this is a book that they can’t miss. It is both comprehensive and enjoyable. It flows smoothly and keeps the reader wanting more. They get to re-live some of the great and really not so great times in the team’s history and can honestly feel like they were there, even if some of the stories were before their time. This book is a really nice way to finish up a World Championship year for the fans of Houston.
I have said this before about books like these, they scare me. The subject is very subjective and quite honestly no two will have the same set of standards as to what makes a player great. For example, my favorite player of all-time is Phillies Outfielder from the 70’s Greg Luzinski. Hardly a household name, but he easily makes my top five Phils, so you see what can happen with these books.
Looking at these two releases I can honestly say there was some serious thought put into the selection of the players chosen to be included. I usually agree to the selections in these types of books at about of rate of 50%, which I feel is a pretty good rate, but both of these books came in at close to 80% agreement. I honestly think that I have an average fan outlook and historical evaluation criteria for the most part, so I think that agreement percentage is a great achievement.
Cohen paints vivid pictures of some storied careers that were parts of these historical franchises. It gives some one on one perspectives of some of the games greats of all time. These type of books also offer an education element to them because you learn about some names you may never have heard of before.
Fans of either of these teams will obviously want to check these out and see if they agree with Robert Cohen’s pics as well. These are also valuable to fans that fancy themselves as amateur historians of the game, because you can get some good information on some of the featured players.
You can get any of these books from the nice folks at Blue River Press
Finally, I apologize to all my loyal followers (yes all three of you), with our new addition to the family last year, time is at a premium and unfortunately baseball books have fell victim to my time crunch. Aubrey does not give me much spare time to read and post, but I will try my darndest to post more in 2018. I will not after almost 400 posts let this become a zombie blog.
Happy Holidays to all and a safe and healthy New Year to each and every one of you.
Well, I will admit it, I am a lousy Blogger. Time management is not my strength when it comes to blogging, but nonetheless I have returned to try to catch up on some books. What better time than now, it being Hall of Fame induction weekend, to catch up on some HOF books so without further comment, lets dive right in.
Released earlier this year to conveniently coincide with his induction this year, this book takes a hard look at both Raines’ life and career in his own words. It comes across as an honest and open account of his own life. He admits many of his mistakes along the way and how he has tried to make amends to those he hurt. It also opened my eyes to some of the numbers Raines put up in some of his seasons. To me he always blended into the scenery of the N.L. East and always looked good but never seemed as good as he turned out to be. If you have an interest in the Montreal Expos, or like Tim Raines, you will really enjoy this book from Triumph Publishing. I for one am glad that he finally got his due, Congrats Tim!
Last summers inductee Mike Piazza got his own book this year as well. The book does cover his whole career but really shows the reader why he is in Cooperstown wearing a Mets cap. It shows the love between Mets fans and Piazza and why he meant so much to them even though he played for other teams. Greg Prince always brings his A-Game to his books and this is no exception, Mets fans, Piazza fans and even those in Philadelphia will enjoy the story of this local kid who made good. You can get this one from Sports Publishing.
Kaplan’s new book brings an interesting look at a single season of Hank’s storied career. It’s easily one of the strongest years of his career and it shows the trials and tribulations hank endured while chasing the Babe’s single season home run record. I think this is a rather hard subject to try to unearth so many years later but Kaplan does an admirable job at it and if you have an interest in this period of baseball or the social problems that came along with being Jewish you will enjoy this book. It also proves that Jackie Robinson was not the only one enduring slurs on the field during that era. This is another one you can get from Sports Publishing.
This is someone who should be already in the hall, but keeps getting overlooked. This book is very unique in that it contains tons of pictures. It shows great images of Allen throughout his entire life and the text that accompanies it with in the book is top-notch. Its different from any other Dick Allen book on the market so it is worth checking out if you like Dick Allen. You can grab this one from Schiffer Publishing.
I think Alan Trammell will someday be up on that stage getting his plaque in Cooperstown, but until that time all his fans have is this lone book. Trammell is an often overlooked subject but I have never been able to figure out why. This is the only book I have ever been able to find on him, but it is thorough and well written and gives his fans a chance to relive his one day Hall of Fame career. Sometime all you need is one book, as long as it is good, so for Trammell fans and Tigers fans of this era this is your book. You can pick this one up from McFarland Publishing
Finally, Clemens is an often covered subject and one day I have a gut feeling he will make the Hall regardless of past sins. That being said this book attempts to sum up all of the Roger Clemens events throughout his career and after. It is a one stop shop if you will for Clemens fans and sums everything up as neatly as it can, as opposed to other books that take one aspect of the proceedings and focus on it. If you are a Clemens fan or of the PED era, check this one from McFarland out.
That sums up this years Hall review and hopefully going forward I will be here more often, but until then…..Happy Reading!
Like it or not, wherever your favorite team plays is an integral part of the game experience. From unique dimensions, playing surfaces and the elements, these things can all add or detract from the overall experience. With the birth of so many new venues over the last 25 years, the fan experience has been dramatically improved. For the most part the previous generation of stadiums lacked ingenuity or any sort of bling and at the bare minimum left something to be desired for the fans. The only fun part of them was the nicknames that were bestowed to several of them such as concrete doughnut and my personal favorite…..the Toilet. There was one stadium that stood out among all of these circular disappointments and stood above all the rest, The Houston Astrodome. Its amenities were well ahead of the times and served the fans of Houston well for several decades. Now there is a book that celebrates the creation of the iconic stadium and shows all the work that went into building the eighth wonder of the world.
I have always looked at the Astrodome as a baseball stadium. Never giving much thought to the other uses for this multi-purpose marvel. First, this book takes a look at the political wrangling that it took for the city of Houston to procure a Major League team as well as some of the promises it was required to make as part of that deal. It shows the tireless efforts of several key figures in Houston and the many failed previous efforts of the town. It paints a vivid picture of how much time and effort goes in to just getting a promise of a team.
The book also goes into great detail about the political obstacles the new stadium faced in Houston as well as all the engineering hurdles that had to be cleared to create something of this magnitude. It goes into great depth to explain how the stadium was physically built to withstand the elements and how it has been able to withstand the test of time. The authors also show the readers all of the unique attributes that were built into the stadium and you can see how forward thinking those involved with its construction truly were.
The book also addresses the many uses the Astrodome had. From concerts, rodeos, football and countless other uses, it really lent itself to being a jack of all trades. Like all stadiums of this era, it was a living, breathing and evolving building and changed with the needs of the times. Finally, it does take a harsh look at the aging of the dome and how it fell victim of the current times. In the end, the once grand palace of baseball became just another decrepit old stadium. A stadium that no one is sure what to do with and probably at some point, like all the one time greats, will meet its demise.
The book is very comprehensive and shows those not living in Texas what the Astrodome was truly about. It also gives a nice glimpse at Texas politics and how that works as well as the way the people of Houston have helped change their self image with the help of the dome.
While this is not a baseball only book, it still has a large chunk of Colt 45’s/Astros information. If you have interest in old stadiums this book covers it from its beginnings to its possible near end. It has lots of information readers will find informative and entertaining, If like me, you were never lucky enough to visit the Astrodome, this book will surely make you wish you had.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
Well, the holidays are officially over. The decorations are away and we are all well on our way to breaking our new years resolutions. It is currently 4 degrees outside of my house and I am patiently awaiting spring training. During this time my wife and I wonder where would we like to go on any trips this year and if we are going to make it to any Phillies games. The latter part of that planning, the Phillies games, leads me to wonder if we could plan a couple trips and see some other stadiums as well. Usually I get overruled on the other cities but we at least make it to the Phils. Today’s book is about one man’s journey and his trek to visit all 30 of the MLB stadiums.
I will be honest, a trip like this is my ultimate dream. Checking out each stadium and every team that calls each one home. This will be my retirement plan, just no one can tell my wife yet. So for now, I have to live vicariously through Tobey Shiverick.
Shiverick brings us along his 18 flight, five month, 34,000 mile baseball journey. He walks us through his experience at each stadium and gives us the highs or lows that he feels each has to offer. He gives the reader the general vibe of the stadium and that of the teams fans. I can only attest to Philadelphia, but he did have a pretty good read on Citizens Bank Park after only one game.
For a true baseball fan this would be the ultimate experience. For fans from the same generation as the author, you also get the added bonus of being able to compare the stadiums of yesteryear to the modern palaces of today. From Ebbets Field, to Dodger Stadium, The Polo Grounds to the palace in San Fran and of course, Yankee Stadium vs. that new one they built across the street.
Even fans of my generation would be able to do the some comparison to a lesser degree. We would be able to do Shea Stadium to Citi Field, Veterans Stadium to Citizens Bank Park and Three Rivers to PNC Park. None of those generate heart palpitations in the spectrum of great stadiums, but does help foster some nostalgia nonetheless.
This book may be geared more to the older crowd versus the younger fan, mostly because the older generations would be able to afford this type of journey. The expense has to be enormous between stops in 30 cities, hotel rooms, travels and meals. The average fan would have a hard time being able to pony up the cash to pull this one off. Also the print in this book is a little bigger than a lot of books I come across, so I am assuming they are expecting an older crowd reading the book. Quite honestly, I read so many books that I appreciated the larger print for a change.
Fans should check this out. Even if you are not able to do a 30 park tour, this book would be able to help you pick even one new park to check out. It has endless value for fans in getting a feel for those parks they have never been to.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books
Every town that has sports fans has that one character. One person that spends their whole career in that town as a journalist, announcer or sometimes both. Fans relate to those types of people and after a certain amount of time consider them part of the family. A strong sports town like Cleveland has one of those types of people. Dan Coughlin has spent his life weaving himself into part of the fabric of Cleveland sports. Now he has a new book out re-living some of his greatest memories.
Coughlin, as mentioned above has spent his entire career and life for that matter in the Cleveland area. He has endeared himself to fans and become a part of the Ohio sports family. During his career he has covered more than just baseball as does this book, but I figured that he has also been such a mainstay in Cleveland baseball that his book should be acknowledged.
This is the third in Coughlin’s series of books where he looks back on the highlights of a career spent in Cleveland. He re-lives some of the great stories and characters that he crossed paths with through the decades. If you are from Cleveland or have spent any time in the area taking in the sports scene, you will really enjoy these stories.
Now for those of us who have never lived in Cleveland or witnessed Dan Coughlin’s work first hand, this book still has some appeal. You may not identify with Coughlin on as strong a level as Cleveland fans but you will still be able to enjoy the history contained in these stories. It gives outsiders an inside pass to what Cleveland sports has to offer behind the scenes. It also offers a history lesson about Cleveland sports that may be difficult to obtain on any other level except for a lifer at the heart of the action.
As I mentioned above, it does cover sports other than baseball. On the other hand it does offer a fun look at Cleveland sports and allows the reader to engage in the sports history of a new city. Readers should check it out, because there is is some funny stories contained in here as well as some detailed history.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Gray & Co Publishers