I am sure no one has missed me on here, but I should probably give a brief explanation of my MIA status. Between a new job, moving back to Philadelphia and figuring out this whole Fatherhood thing, baseball books have become the victim of circumstances. Now that we are settled in our new place and the very large former Ron Kaplan book collection has been moved, I can hopefully focus on some more books, but if anyone has any ideas how to get an eight month old to sleep through the night, I would love to hear from you. I figured I would start back with a book that was highly anticipated by myself and did not disappoint.
I was familiar with Dickson’s previous work on his Bill Veeck book and really enjoyed that one, so I expected more of the same with this. Leo Durocher was one of those figures in baseball history that was either loved or hated, somewhere in the middle was not an option. To date, there have been a few books about Durocher, but none recently so it was a subject worth revisiting.
Paul Dickson takes a hard look at both Durocher’s playing and managing career. Not really much of a player numbers-wise, he had the small guy attitude that was appreciated by many a manager. This book looks at his trouble with Babe Ruth and the hard-nosed play that forged his cocky reputation. It is very thorough look at an often overlooked part of Leo’s resume.
Durocher’s real strength was his managing obviously. With varying degrees of success at all of his stops in the big leagues, you see how his hard-nosed playing attitude spills over into his managing. The reader also sees how Leo becomes the victim of a changing game. How more success early in his career does not carry over in the latter years. The game changed along with player attitudes, but old Leo stuck to his guns. It translated into some rough times for the long time manager, but those stops still put the finishing touches on an impressive career.
The one aspect of this book I found most interesting was the details of his private life. From associations with known gamblers, to his friendships with the Hollywood types, it leads to a very interesting life. Of course, the four wives add some zing to that private life also. It is an interesting aspect of Leo that we know some details about, but this sheds a whole new light on the subject.
Overall, this book is tirelessly researched and prepared well. It gets a little stat heavy at times, but the overall content of the book makes up for that lone aspect I did not like. If you have any interest in Durocher, or are a fan of this era of the game, check this one out. At 300+ pages it is a lot of reading but is for sure, time well spent.
Check it out, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
It is a very sad fact that no matter how good a player is or was, they sometimes get forgotten in baseball history. Flashier, louder and more savvy players come along and steal the spotlight while these great players just go about their business playing the game. This also extends to other arenas like the Hall of Fame, because some players get forgotten by the voters in Cooperstown as well. Baseball publishing is another area where so many of the stories that should be told, if for no other reason than preservation of the game’s history, usually are not. Ken Boyer is one of those players that had an incredible career, but truly never got any of the written credit he deserved. Boyer recently shared a book about himself and his siblings and a few books aimed at the juvenile set were published during his career, but up until now he has never gotten the book he really deserved. Kevin McCann has published the book that baseball fans have been wanting and waiting for about Ken Boyer.
Ken Boyer was a staple of St. Louis Cardinals baseball for a long time. Receiver of numerous accolades during his career, he was the type of baseball player parents were glad that their kids looked up to. For some reason throughout time, Boyer never got the recognition he deserved form historians. Perhaps it was his low key demeanor and how he went about his business or some other unknown reason, but it really is a shame the world has not recognized his talents.
Kevin McCann has produced a real gem with this book. He takes a look at Boyer’s early life and how his early life struggles helped forge the strong personality that his was. He also takes a look at Boyer’s climb up the baseball ladder. Experiences in the Minor Leagues all added to the personality that eventually shone through in St. Louis.
McCann also takes the reader on a journey along with Ken Boyer through his impressive time manning Third Base for the Cardinals. World Series triumphs, All-Star Games and an MVP award just to keep it interesting were all bestowed upon Boyer while manning the hot corner. Next he takes you through the winding down portion of his career with stops with the Mets, White Sox and Dodgers. But the journey doesn’t stop there with Boyer. The author shows us the steps Boyer took to remain in baseball. By starting at the bottom and working his way back up again, he was able to take over the managerial reigns of the Cardinals for a while with limited success before his untimely death in 1982.
Finally McCann makes a solid case for Boyer’s inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Honestly if you can make a solid case to have Ron Santo in the Hall at this point then Ken Boyer is a no-brainer for induction. For some reason baseball has overlooked Boyer’s career and has shown to some degree the flaws with the Hall of Fame voting system.
McCann has written a great book with this one. The writing style flows smoothly, moves fast and makes the reader feel like they were actually there. It is a great story that I for one am glad is finally being told on the level it deserves. The book is very hard to put down once you get started.
Baseball fans should check this one regardless of team allegiance. It is a player that should be given the historical respect he deserves and hopefully this book takes an important step forward in gaining recognition for the legacy Ken Boyer left behind.
You can get this book from the nice folks at BrayBree Publishing
One of the downsides of growing older for me is seeing all of your baseball idols pass on. I understand it is a normal part of life and is ultimately inevitable, but it still sucks. No matter what team pulls at your heart-strings and makes your blood boil at times, how could you not like Yogi Berra? With his passing today baseball has lost another great ambassador to the game. They have lost another link to the golden era of the game and New York baseball. If you look closely these links are becoming few and far between. It is just a normal part of life but still not one I find any appreciation for. You are hard pressed to find anyone that had a bad thing to say about Yogi. A modest character who at times seemed bigger than life but was a down to earth guy who loved his wife, his family and of course his game.
Yogi was the author of an incredible career that was capped by Hall of Fame enshrinement in 1972. An imported New Yorker through and through, he became a symbol of one of the things that made New York great. His death is not just a loss for New York or the Yankees and Mets, but all of baseball. Every team, league, player, manager, coach, executive and fan has lost something here and is in some way a fan of Yogi’s. Everyone has heard some sort of version of one of his Yogisms and honestly they even make their way to non-baseball fans. His death transcends just the baseball world and may even be considered a loss for the entire world. Everyone had opinions of the players who are considered the games greats. Mantle Williams, DiMaggio and even Duke Snider, people either loved them or hated them, and there are plenty of both. But in all honesty it seems that everyone loved Yogi. It’s easy to leave your mark on the game of baseball if you have talent, but he has left his mark on people, which is an even bigger accomplishment.
So how does all this tie into baseball books, since that is what this blog is about? Well much like other popular subjects, there are a lot of Yogi books. If you havent taken the time to look at any of them, maybe you should. Most are a joy to read and give the readers an opportunity to see what the man was like behind the scenes. He seems to be a very what you see is what you get kind of guy. He was nobody’s fool and seemed like a great guy. So take the time to pick one up you wont regret it, and this is coming from a self-proclaimed Yankee hater.
Godspeed Yogi, we’re gonna miss ya!
Baseball has been full of colorful characters during its existence. Players, managers, coaches owners and many other bigger than life personalities have fallen into this category. For some its an act that becomes pretty transparent, but for others it is a genuine trait. People have called these people flakes, or feeble or just plain crazy, but in the end they are probably some of the smartest people involved in the game. Using the above adjectives brings to mind Casey Stengel. The Old Professor could dazzle listeners, fans and writers alike with tall tales mixed in with his own brand of Stengelese, that in the end would make their heads spin and make them forget what the question was. Todays book is a collection of some of those masterful thoughts that help create his legacy on and off the field.
Casey Stengel was nobody’s fool in any sense of the word. He was in fact quite the genius both on and off the field. There is no reason to re-hash his baseball record because it speaks for itself, but most people dismissed him at time because of his double talking ways. This is not a new book, but has been released by Summer Game Books in 2015. What is important about this book is if you read between the lines, in Casey’s quotes you will find life lessons that almost anyone could live by. Now some of Casey’s quotes were obviously tongue in cheek comments but he had a lot of wisdom gained on the baseball trail that he shared with anyone who would listen.
This re-issue is important because these quotes still apply in today’s game. The way he treated his players and handled his team is something that carries from generation to generation and has proved effective more than once. The book also contains some interviews with some of his former players, and it shows he really cared about them becoming successful. That success was more of a personal thing, not monetary driven and he is portrayed as a caring manager and friend of the players.
Casey Stengel is a piece of American history beyond the New York Yankees and baseball itself. He has been gone for 35 years now but this book gives us the opportunity to relive his humor and showcase his personality to future generations. He should be remembered for what he accomplished on the field, his contributions to the game as well as the larger than life personality he was off the field.
Baseball fans will enjoy this. There are some funny quotes and interviews that will give the reader a chuckle. It also transports you back to a simpler time in the American Pastime.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books