By now we all have heard the story of Branch Rickey. The one man with enough courage formulate a plan to challenge baseballs long-standing but unspoken color barrier. With his signing of Jackie Robinson he set in motion changes that would affect the face of the game forever. Today we take a look at another Branch Rickey biography……
Branch Rickey – A Life
By:Jimmy Breslin – 2011 Penguin Books
Through the years I have read several Branch Rickey biographies. Some of those were good and some not so good. Unfortunately this book falls into the latter category. Branch Rickey-A Life has several flaws, at least in my opinion. Since there have been so many Ricky biographies published, one would hope at least the common factual information would be correct.
I am learning now that Breslin may not be one of my preferred writers to read. Perhaps its his writing style, or the fact that these are very short books he writes. You don’t get the chance to read in any great detail, any of the information in his books. Regardless of the subject matter he seems to have a 150 page limit to tell the story. Within those 150 pages you are only able to briefly immerse in each topic, and as we all know Rickey is a story that is very complex.
In the end what you get with this book is a very basic biography about the man. It is almost a warm and fuzzy rendition of Branch Rickey and left me wondering why did we need this. Almost Fifty years after Rickey’s death and Seventy years after the birth of his great experiment, the reader expects much more. After plunking down your hard-earned money to buy this book I feel safe in saying the reader deserves more as well.
As I said above maybe I am the issue with Breslin’s writing style. I just didn’t get what he was trying to give the reader in this book. If it was geared towards a juvenile audience it would have accomplished its goal much better. But as a Biography on a large figure in the baseball realm, it failed miserably.
I had the same problem with Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game, also by Breslin, but learned after the fact it was some sort of compilation of articles manifested into a complete book. I don’t think that is the case here. I really feel that this book just totally missed its mark.
I think most readers will be disappointed with this book, especially seasoned baseball readers……..but you be the judge, I am just one opinion.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Penguin Books
They have been called everything from the Loveable Losers to the Amazing Mets. During their franchise history they have seen the highest of highs, the lowest depths of despair and just about everything in between. Love them or hate them the New York Mets have made the last 50 years pretty interesting. Today’s book takes a look at the first year of those Loveable Losers……
Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?
By: Jimmy Breslin 1963-Ivan R. Dee Publishing
Everyone who is any kind of baseball fan knows the saga of the New York Mets. An expansion team that started play in 1962 as part of the National League expansion. The entered the league the same year as Houston’s Colt 45’s, but garnered a much more dedicated fan base than their Houston counterparts. More than likely the Mets were so popular despite their horrible record, because fans were happy to have a National League presence in the city of New York again. Five years after the exodus of the Giants and Dodgers to greener pastures in California, New Yorker’s finally had a hometown team to root for besides the Yankees.
First published in 1963, I was not sure what exactly I would find with this book. I was assuming it would be about the growing pains and woes of a first year expansion team as part of the biggest media circus in the world. The reality of this book was that you saw those pains, but you also learned about what the Mets now meant to New York.
Fans of the both the Giants and Dodgers seemed to have an inferiority complex when it came to the Yankee fans. After the two teams left New York, these fans were at a loss as to their allegiance. What the Mets brought back to New York fans who pulled for the Dodgers and Giants, was something to root for.
Regardless of their record the author has shown how the Mets were a boost to the morale of the New York fans. How they were embraced both as a team, players individually and how there was now hope in the city, outside of the Bronx. Essentially the book shows how the Mets filled a void for the fans and no matter how good or bad they played, the fans loved them back.
Due to its age, some of the book is very dated. I also got the feeling while reading this book that the original intention may have been to promote the Mets. There was minimal description of the actual play of the Mets and more explanation of why the Mets were good for New York. There also was an overall sentiment throughout the book, that even though the Mets stink, we have hope for success in the future. That essentially is what made me think a promotional piece for the marketing department.
When all is said and done over 50 years later it is a fairly enjoyable book. It gives you a glimpse of the mindset of New York in the early 60’s, as well as their hopes looking towards the future of their new toy, The Mets. Mets fans will enjoy this book, as will general history buffs. I am not sure how much mass appeal this will have to fans outside of the east coast though, because old New York baseball is more than a lifetime ago for them.
You can get this book from Ivan R. Dee Publishing