Tagged: joe niese

Burleigh Grimes-Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer

I will admit my knowledge of baseball prior to World War II is weak at best.  It seems with the popularity of the post war era, it has always held my attention better and quite honestly the record keeping from that point forward is a little more detailed.  When I do venture out of my comfort zone it is usually with an author that I am familiar and one that I trust so that I know I am getting solid information about the player of that era.  In the internet age, the name Burleigh Grimes is easily accessible  and his legacy is easily explained to legions of fans.  But what if you want more than just the last legal spitballer in the game and that he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1964?  I have just the book that puts all the the pieces in place about a life well lived.


By:Joe Niese-2013

For my journey through this period of baseball history Joe Niese was a more than competent tour guide.  I was familiar with his writing from  his other book Handy Andy that we reviewed on the Bookcase previously, so I was confident this book would be just as good.  He always does top notch research with his books as well, so you know you can trust the facts you get from his books.

Niese walks the reader through the full circle picture that was Burleigh Grimes.  From his modest childhood in Wisconsin, through a Hall of Fame baseball career that included four separate trips to the World Series, with three different teams and the opportunity to play next to a record 36 Hall of Famers.  It easily shows the talent that was playing during Grimes Era as well as the level the game was as a whole prior to World War II.  It also leads to debate about Grimes’s personal statistics as compared to others in the era.  Based on today’s standards I see him as Hall worthy, but it seems when taken against a segmented portion on his era, it may help feed the flames of debate among the detractors who argue about him being enshrined.

Next Niese takes the reader through his post playing days.  His lone stint as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, his life as a coach and scout as well as member of various Hall of Fame committees.  On the personal side you seem to learn a lot about Grimes and get a feel for what he was all about.  Between looking at his time within baseball as strictly a job and the combative attitude he took with him on the field, Burleigh did not give the outward appearance of a real people person.  Perhaps that attitude was helped by having five wives. Finally the author looks at his final retirement years and living a normal life.  To me it seems that Grimes came to grips with the world around him and lost some of his outward grumpiness.

For my money,  Joe Niese did a great job with this book.  He brought back to life someone that not many of us are familiar with.  He portrays a different era in baseball in a light that all fans can relate to and understand. In my mind’s eye this became more than just a sepia tone vision of some old footage from days gone by.  Niese has allowed the reader to feel like they are actually there and understand how things worked during that time.

I think any fans of the history of the game will enjoy this.  It brings to light another forgotten baseball personality.  Just because you made it to the Hall of Fame does not mean you will not fall victim to Father Time.  This book introduces a new generation of fans to one of the games true characters.  Check it out I don’t think you will be disappointed.

You can get signed copies of this book direct from authir Joe Niese

Burleigh Grimes

Happy Reading


Handy Andy – The Andy Pafko Story

Baseball history is full of unique stories.  Not every player had a Hall of Fame career, while others were the tops of their field.  Thousands of players fall into the middle points of this realm, but every one of them has a unique story that sometimes gets forgotten.  Part of the fun of being a student of baseball history is the opportunity to learn about each players individual story.  Sometimes players fall through the cracks of history because each year new people are added to team rosters and add to the history of the game.  Today’s book takes a look at the story of another player who deserves not to be forgotten due to the passage of time.

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By:Joe Niese-Chippewa River Press 2015

Andy Pafko, by all accounts had a very nice career.  With stints on the North side of Chicago, Brooklyn and Milwaukee, he got to witness some great history as well as the chances to win a few rings.  Solid on the field, putting up very good numbers by that day’s standards, Pafko was a quality player that may not have gotten the true recognition that he deserved.

Joe Niese has written an interesting book that goes to great lengths to show the true man.  He takes an in-depth look at both the professional and personal sides of Andy Pafko.  You not only see his professionalism on the field, you also learn what a quality person he was off the field as well.  A dedicated family man, Andy Pafko comes across as having his priorities straight in life and never losing sight of what was important to him.  He has proven that hard work and love of family both are rewarding in the end.  Niese gives the readers insight on Andy Pafko’s hopes, dreams and personal triumphs that help shape the man in the end.

The part I found most interesting about this book is the passion that author Joe Niese seems to have in telling the story of Andy Pafko.  It is a caring and interesting story that Niese helps tell in a way that truly captures the essence of the man himself.  This book is so much more than just a standard biography of a player.  It is really a biography of a great guy who just happened to be a baseball player.  You learn a lot about Andy Pafko in this book, and it is also a great lesson for the baseball fan, that sometimes the quiet man on the field has the most interesting story to tell.

You can get this book direct from the author at http://www.joeniese.com

Happy Reading