I realize as always that I am way behind on posting on this blog. That doesn’t mean the reading has stopped on my end, it just means my book reports are a little late. I get review books from publishers fairly regularly, sometimes requested and sometimes not. But my perspective is they are all worth taking a look at. Some publishers may be of the one and done variety with the publication of baseball books. While others keep the sport in their lie-up on a regular basis. Year after year McFarland Publishing falls into that later category and this past year is no exception. These pictures are just a sampling of what has made its way across my desk from them this year.
From team biographies, individual player biographies, the history of the game to the social impacts certain teams, events or people have had on the game, McFarland has you, the reader, covered. Some of the subjects are obscure, while others are mainstream, but they still take the road of getting books in print that other publishers turn their noses up at.
Another aspect I find important about McFarland’s catalog is that they bring player Biographies to market that would otherwise fall to the wayside and never be published. How many times have we as readers asked, I wonder if this player has a book and you come to realize that they don’t. McFarland seems to be willing to bring obscure players and authors for that matter, to the market. For baseball readers this should be an item of importance. I for one know that the eight bio’s I have on Reggie Jackson are more than enough.
I don’t know if they publish on a self publishing platform or operate on a more traditional scale, and frankly I don’t care. They allow me the opportunity as a reader to learn and enjoy books about people and subjects within the sport that have been overlooked or flat-out ignored. Some of these subjects may not excite everyone, and that is understandable, but honestly if you give their vast catalog a chance, there will be something that will peak your interest as a baseball fan.
You can check out their full catalog at McFarland Books and see if there is something that sparks your interest to dive further into this great game. It is massive and ever-changing and honestly introduced me to some great topics and great new authors as well.
Every once in a while in baseball we lose a team. Good or bad, there are lots of reasons why this usually happens. Most recently over a decade ago, the Montreal Expos disappeared from the baseball landscape and some folks are rightfully so, still up in arms about it. The longer a team is gone, the more time marches on and the more that team inevitably slips from memory. I have witnessed this first hand in my area with the Philadelphia Athletics Historical society. The people who saw them play first hand aged and passed on and the memories and interest faded despite folks best efforts.
The St Louis Browns have been gone for over 60 years now and probably most of the people who had seen them first hand have passed on at this point. So more than likely, other than the hard-core baseball fans, people don’t have as much of an interest in the team or its history. Today I have a book that does a very nice job of introducing a new wave of fans to a team of yesteryear and hopefully help keep their legacy alive.
The St. Louis Browns were in a tough spot. Fighting for fans loyalty in a baseball crazy town with the Cardinals was no easy task. In the end we all know how it worked out, the left St Louis and pitched their new tent in Baltimore with a brand new name. They were not always the door mats of baseball as some would have you believe. There were plenty of good times in the early years, but in the end the battle with the Cardinals for supremacy just became too much.
This book is a great look into those wonder years in St Louis. It takes an in-depth look at the teams roots, its early success and its fights for league supremacy. It is a great learning tool for those that are not familiar with their history or the people who wore the uniform through the years.
The Browns were more than just Bill Veeck and his ahead of the curve promotions. More than just an aging ballpark, more than tiny batters and all those things everyone is familiar with. For the new generation of baseball fans this is huge opportunity to learn about a team that has fallen from the landscape but never from the fabric of the game. If we as the generations of fans, post Browns baseball do not take the time to learn about them now, then we risk losing them to the passage of time. This has happened to other teams throughout history and I would for one be very sad to see this happen to the Browns and their storied past.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Reedy Press
For every baseball fan in the world, the journey starts somewhere. Is it something you found on your own, was it something that just called your name or was it something someone else taught you the things you needed to know to become a good fan? They say baseball brings families together and more often than not helps build a bond between fathers and sons. So where did your journey begin?
For me, everything I know about baseball stems from my Dad. I am a Phillies fan by birth, thanks to my Dad, I root for my hometown team, thanks to my Dad and I am not a fair weather, bandwagon fan, once again thanks to my Dad. I was raised with the notion that good or bad they are your team, and you stick by them no matter what.
My Dad was raised in an era of Philadelphia baseball that consisted of two teams, the Phillies and the Athletics. During his formative baseball years, neither team was very good but he stuck by his teams. When Philadelphia became the victim of baseball re-location, my Dad’s allegiance was given solely to the Phillies. From that point on in the mid 50’s the Phillies for the most part stunk. Except for a glimmer of hope here and there, as a fan you didn’t have much to get excited about. But as I was taught growing up, you stick by your team.
As I grew up, I was lucky enough to be one of the kids whose Dad took him to ball games. He traveled a lot for his job, but there was always time when he was home to fit in a baseball game at Veterans Stadium. It was there in Section 322 at the Vet that my education began. I was taught the intricacies of the game, who was a good player, who stunk and the reason why a pitchers duel was more fun to watch then a slug fest. It was an education that I didn’t realize I was getting at the time, but has proved useful thousands of times over in the days since. I am not even sure he realized he was being a teacher at the time, it was more just a conversation between Father and Son.
Hot summer nights at the Vet have been replaced with Citizens Bank Park, adult duties like jobs, a wife, bills, distance and illness have gotten in the way, but we will always have the memories of the Vet and our first base line seats. No matter what happens in life I realize you can never go back to your happiest place, but I can still push the buttons on those memories and re-play them whenever I want in my head. I kept all my ticket stubs from those games when we went together and whenever I stumble across that envelope of stubs in my drawer, it brings a smile to my face.
So, since it is Father’s Day I want to say Thanks Dad. You have made me the rabid Phillies fan that I am today. It is because of you, I live and die with this team. You taught me the integrity required to be a fan of a horrible team, and how not to give up even though they are 26 games below .500. You also taught me the value of a good baseball book and the broader point that you can always learn something from reading. It is these values that I hope to pass long to my kid someday, and hopefully I will teach them what they need to know about baseball and life, half as well as you taught me.
Veterans Stadium is long gone, but the legacy of me and my Dad at a baseball game on a hot summer night will live on with me forever. Happy Fathers Day Dad, I love you and we should probably take in a Phillies game real soon.