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 has been a very interesting week in American history. First the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after a 108 year drought, breaking the curse of the Billy Goat. Secondly, the Presidential election is finally over, and no matter whose side you were on, it would be hard to deny that it had its plot twists, keeping it interesting to say the least. So now as we look into the cold, hard baseball-less Winter, we readers need to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained until Pitchers and Catchers report in February. I figured the best way to start out the off season was to start with an undeniable dumpster fire of a book that will help keep all of us warm on those cold nights.
Growing up, Lenny Dykstra for me was the epitome of cool. He played for my hometown Phillies and was the spark plug that ignited the team on a daily basis and his hard nosed play would excite any fan. As the years passed rumors came to light about Lenny’s behavior off the field, but he was still our guy. Fast forward 20 years and you see what a train wreck Dykstra made of his life and those around him that he touched.
House of Nails is Dykstra’s attempt at setting the record straight with the world. Talking candidly about his steroid use, his financial investments and other business dealings along with his time in prison. To some degree it is an apology to some of the people he wronged, but when you read it closer it also seems to feel like Dykstra is still trying to sell the world his program on investing strategies.
The book covers in depth his baseball career and why he thinks he was so awesome on and off the field during his day. He also tells readers how he was wronged by those around him and how the course of events that left him penniless and in prison, were none of his doing. From my perspective I just don’t buy his story. He ran a media marketing circus around this book and just came off as a guy desperate for attention once again. He wanted the reader to buy that he changed his ways in life and was on the road to being a decent guy ready to embrace life. From some of the picture he posted on line he may to some degree be changing, but when you read stories about him screwing respected co-author Peter Golenbock out of his work on this book, you start to see it’s the same old Lenny.
If you want to read a story about a beat up old player trying to relive some of his old glory and tell you why he is the best, then this is the book for you. You get some inside stories about his career, but honestly how much of it is even the truth. Any book that Lenny himself is involved in has to contain some level of B.S.. It just seems to be how Lenny rolls and it is a shame Golenbock got involved with him in the first place.
Check it out if you dare, just don’t stand too close to the flames. It has some value in the baseball book world but will never be considered great literature, even with Peter Golenbock’s touches.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Harper Collins
Umpires are a vital part of the game. They lay down the law and instill order on the field. They keep the peace and pull the bodies out of the pile when mayhem ensues. Without them, chaos would overtake the game. Umpires could almost be considered the third team on the field, and if watched closely have their own game going on as well. The men in black are an underappreciated bunch at best and are the only ones that have to be perfect when they start their careers and improve from there. Today’s book looks at a Hall of Fame Umpiring career.
They Called Me God – The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived
By:Doug Harvey & Peter Golenbock-2014 Simon & Schuster
Doug Harvey’s career spanned four decades in the major leagues. He got to witness some spectacular careers during their prime and saw first hand some players who were considered part of baseballs golden age. On the field Harvey’s work speaks for itself. He earned his Hall of Fame induction through tireless dedication to the game and making his time on the field the best it could be. He always tried to remain true to the spirit of the game in the quality of his umpiring and was rewarded with his induction to Cooperstown.
Now all that being said we know what a great umpire Doug Harvey really was. Fans may not always want to admit it, but we know a good umpire when we see one. For those fans that are not sure what a good umpire looks like, just read this book and Doug Harvey will be glad to explain why he is the best umpire ever. He does not shy away in this book about explaining how hard he worked, and how he perfected his craft to a level above the others in the field. Doug has no hesitation of explaining how difficult his life was before he entered baseball and the rigorous standards he has adhered to his entire life and those ideals he never wavered from.
Now please don’t think I am ripping this book. They Called Me God is a very well written book and an enjoyable read. It keeps the reader very interested in the story and moves along nicely. Just have yourself prepared for a few hours of Doug Harvey telling you why he was so great. They didn’t call him God for no reason I guess! He reminds me of the same mold that Bob Feller was cast from. Their generation and life was the greatest, and no one has any chance of topping it. Call it pride, call it egotism, call it whatever you want, I just got a Bob Feller vibe from it.
Fans that enjoy the Umpires will really enjoy the book. I don’t think the get the respect they deserve most of the time, but this book goes a long way in helping you understand one of the greats of the game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Simon & Schuster
Life is full of second chances. It seems like no matter where you look, you can easily find someone who has gotten lucky and received a second chance. Some people earn them and some people are just lucky. As always, you also find someone who think they deserve one just because of some sort of entitlement. The only reason I wrote that last sentence is because I just saw Pete Rose on the news telling people “to get over what he did”….. but that is a different post for a different day. When the person in question is willing to admit their problems and show a willingness to better themselves, redemption is forthcoming. Todays book is exactly that.
RAGE-The Legend of Bill Denehy
By: Bill Denehy and Peter Golenbock
2014 Central Recovery Press
I will say right off the bat this book surprised me. I expected by looking at Bill Denehy’s career that there would be some sort of bitterness. Bitterness for unreached stardom, chances wasted both financially and professionally and mostly of un-met potential. To some degree there was a bit of that though not overwhelmingly evident. What you find in this book is a man who has taken a very hard look at himself and the choices he has made and been honest with himself about his own character flaws.
The book follows the normal auto-biographical format. Childhood, minor leagues, major leagues, family and of course life after baseball. You also see the drug use and drinking that affected him both personally and professionally. Through each segment the author takes the time to stop and reflect on his actions and give a glimpse of how it affected the people around him and how it affected his life as a whole. He is very honest with the reader about his actions and you honestly get the impression he is sorry for how his actions have hurt those around him.
I have never personally dealt with any addiction recoveries among my family or friends, but it feels like this book was part of Bill’s recovery process. He is very honest and open about his rehab steps and how it has been a positive aspect of his life. I never had an opinion of Bill Denehy before I read the book. Afterward I got the impression that like everyone in the world, he had his demons and his surroundings did not help his coping with said demons. In the end you get the impression Bill is an alright guy who has gotten his act together and made amends with family and friends that he has hurt through the years. Hopefully this is one of the many positive steps he makes towards long-term recovery and happiness.
Normally on books like this you don’t give much thought to the co-author but on this one I did. I will admit it and I am proud of it. I love books that Peter Golenbock is involved with. Something about his work just makes it more enjoyable for me. It could possibly be the writing style or the flow, I’m really not sure, but I just seem to enjoy them more than some others.
Overall this is a good book but definitely not a fairytale ending in the least. It is a quick and easy read and maybe good for those dealing with addictions or rehab because it may make them feel less alone.
You can pick up the book from the nice folks at Central Recovery Press.