Tagged: Reggie JAckson

Lyman Bostock-The Inspiring Life and Tragic Death of a Ballplayer


Life can be cruel and that’s a fact.   It can offer us so much opportunity and promise and in one blink of an eye it can all be gone.  We see it time and time again in baseball, but a lot of the time it is due to injury.  When it is due to the loss of life, baseball as a game becomes unimportant and we learn how much we actually care about the people who play the game on a whole different level.  Lyman Bostock is one case where we were left to ask what if.  A career cut short due to his untimely murder, which was full of promise and unlimited potential.  For me, Bostock’s story was always one that left me wondering about the details surrounding his untimely demise, but now we have a book to help us all fill in the blanks.

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By:K. Adam Powell-2017

When you stop and take a look at Lyman Bostock’s career numbers, one has to admit this guy was the real deal.  He was always in contention for batting titles, was always improving his game and based on the small career sampling size, if he had kept up that pace would easily have been a Hall of Famer.  But we all know how his career was cut short and left us with that void in Lyman’s story.  Today’s book looks at his life and career and shows the reader the story of the man and promise wasted.

Powell’s book takes a look at Bostock’s meager upbringing in California and how he worked his way up through the ranks of High School and College baseball, through the minor leagues and eventually to the Major Leagues.  It shows a story of perseverance and overcoming life’s obstacles.  It also shares the story of how Lyman Bostock’s father who in his own right was a Negro League star, was not much of an influence in his childhood or his rise to stardom.

The book looks at his first stop in the majors with Minnesota with the Twins and the bond he created with teammates and the lessons he learned from teammate Rod Carew on how to become a better hitter.  It also shows the negative side of the relationship with Twins management that came to head with Lyman leaving town.  It is a period of great growth for Bostock as a player and it showed how he was always looking for a way to improve his game by listening to teammates and heading their advice.  You learn about Bostocks love of his family during this period and how whenever he had the chance he would seize the opportunity to spend time with them.  It was this love of family that played into his untimely demise.

After signing with the Angels and not living up to the expectations, you learn what kind of fabric Lyman was really made of.  After essentially flopping his first month with the team he gave his salary to charity.  It was acts like this and his anonymous other charitable gestures that show what a cool guy he really was.

A very important aspect of this book, shows the reader all of the details leading up to Lymans final moments.  The readers get all the details of the who, what, when, why and where of that fateful night.  It filled in a lot of the blanks in the story for me and put to rest any doubts of what a stand up guy Lyman Bostock really was from beginning until the end.

Powell did a great job of sharingBostock’s story which I feel has been a very overlooked or forgotten subject.  His time in both life and baseball were very short, but his impact was much greater beyond his years.  Check this book out, I don’t think anyone who puts the effort into reading this will regret it.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield

Lyman Bostock

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

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Babe’s Place-The Lives of Yankee Stadium


I am not a Yankee fan in any sense of the word, but I will acknowledge their achievements throughout history and the contributions they have made to both the game and its storied history.  The original Yankee Stadium was witness to many of the games greatest players and scores of historical moments.  With its closing a few years back, baseball lost one of its historical palaces, but I have found a book that chronicles its entire history and gives the stadium the true respect that it was due.

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By:Michael Wagner-2015

There have been a few books in the past that have made me go wow, but this one beats them all.  Author Michael Wagner starts from the stadium’s original construction and provides all sorts of details about building a stadium in the 20’s.  It covers stories about building delays, internal political struggles, how many bricks that were used and monetary costs to build the palace.  I am using that brick number to dazzle my friends when we start asking each other obscure baseball trivia.  It obviously does cover the great moments that happened there during its original incarnation and gives the reader a good feel of what the stadium was like during that early era of baseball.

Next the book takes another in-depth look at the remodeling of the stadium in the mid 1970’s.  The deconstruction and remodeling details are plentiful in this book and gives an inside look at what really went on behind the scenes during this remodeling phase.  Many of these things you will find hard to believe when you hear the  lengths they went to preserving its original heritage.  This portion of the book also covers the great moments that happened at Yankee Stadium during this second phase of its life.  This is the phase many of us are most familiar with so it was nice to relive some of those memories.

This book provides an enormous array of pictures.  From the original building of the stadium to its remodeling.  Many are from the authors private collection, and they are a unique insight to the process and how large of an undertaking it was to remodel this stadium.

Finally, one aspect I found interesting was the personal correspondence of the author attempting to get memories from those who played there.  He had success to varying degrees, but it was a fun way to see what players thought about the old girl during her prime.

It doesn’t matter if you are a New York Yankee fan or not this is a book worth checking out.  The original Yankee Stadium has given way to progress, but I personally think it should have remained and been revered in such ways that Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are today.  Old Yankee Stadium had a large historical value and this book has done a wonderful job on preserving some of the details and memories for generations to come.

You can contact Author Michael Wagner directly via email for information on how to order this great book for all baseball fans.

yankeeswinws@yahoo.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

Sports Publishing Coming Through for Baseball Fans


We have seen in the last few posts how certain publishers focus on baseball fans and really provide a great selection for them.  As we head into the pending long, hard winter, I figured it is always a good idea to showcase a few more publishers that take care of the fans and get us to our awaited destination, the first pitch of Spring.  Sports publishing has long been a staple of baseball book publishers and offers a diverse catalog for fans.  They offer multiple sports, but for me it’s all baseball or bust.  Historical, team related, biographical, new release or not, there always is something that fans can find that will appeal to everyone.

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By:Rich Westcott-2014

While this is not a new release, it still is a great look at the most vital position on the field, the Pitcher.  By going through the entire history of baseball, Westcott gives the reader some of the most memorable feats performed by Pitchers.  Heroes of the game such as Waddell, Chesbro, Cy Young and Mathewson through modern day greats like Ryan, Seaver, Carlton, Maddux and Randy Johnson all get their due.  It is a nice mix of various pitching accomplishments that have help build the history of the game.  51 chapters covering one position is a lot of memorable feats for the reader, and also introduces them to some not so mainstream stories.  Check this book out if you want to expand your knowledge of the game’s history and see the value that the Pitcher has added to our great game.

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By: Shifrin & Shea-2016

Lets face it, the Home Run is one of the coolest aspects of the game.  It can change the entire momentum of a game, series or even a season.  There is a reason we keep so many Home Run records and why we still are arguing who is the real Home Run King.  There are easily more than 101 home runs that one can call to mind but this is one of those books that narrows it to a certain number.  The one thing the reader has to remember is that they will not always agree with the 101 that were picked.  So it offers some debate material for you and your friends to discuss over a few beers, but in the end, everyone’s list will be different.  The authors give a nice sampling of Homers and it allows the readers to re-live some of the greatest moments in the game’s history.  But in the end, someone, somewhere is going to disagree with at least 1/3 of the picks.  So keep an open mind going into this one.

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By:David Finoli-2016

There was a post in a Facebook group this week asking about this series of books.  It is a very interesting series that puts a unique spin on your favorite team.  The Pittsburgh Pirates book above is the latest in the series and offers you the worst players to wear certain uniform numbers, statistics and history base off the numbers as well as first home runs by certain numbers.  There are so many various things they offer related to the numbers that it is almost impossible not to enjoy these books.  If you are a fan of a certain team you will enjoy this series immensely.  Check out Sports Publishing’s web site for their other team offerings.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2016

We are all familiar with the Black Sox scandal of 1919 so no need to rehash it here.  I tend to shy away from the Joe Jackson books at this point because I am not really sure if I am going to get anything new from reading another one.  Well I am glad to say Hornbaker has given me a more complete picture of Joe Jackson than I ever had before.  He looks at his time prior to joining the Chicago White Sox and his career blossoming career in Cleveland.  It paints a much broader picture of the center focal point of the Black Sox scandal and an further understanding of the real Joe Jackson.  No matter what side of the scandal you sit on, this book is worth taking a look at.  It provides some new perspectives of all events of Jackson’s career and life.

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By: Tim Hornbaker-2015

I wonder honestly if Ty Cobb gets more coverage now than he did while he was alive.  He also is a very tough market to write a book during the last few years.  Hornbaker’s book is another in a long line of recent Cobb themed books and like his Joe Jackson book provides a different perspective on the Hall of Famer.  As always it is up to the reader to decide what is fact and what is legend, but the author does an admirable job at presenting alternative truths about Cobb.  It is worth the time to read but in the end, the reader has to make the decision which one of the Cobb books presents the most truth.  After all the books, both fact and fiction,  that have addressed Cobb, it is going to be hard for readers to ever figure out what Cobb’s true story actually is.

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By:Rich Westcott-2016

Finally, we take a look at one of my hometown favorites.  This book covers more than just baseball and usually I don’t touch these book on here,(see my disclaimer above), but hey……….it’s Philly!  It takes a thorough look at Philadelphia and the Championships we have been lucky enough to celebrate through the years.  Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey are covered as well as showing the transition from a town built on Dynasties to a town laden in a Championship drought for so many years.  It events like these that helped shaped me as the sports fan I am today.  It also shows that the Philly fans may not be as bad as we are always portrayed.

Take the time to check the books out on Sports Publishing’s website.  They have these and many other great baseball books that are sure to please everyone.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Hairs vs. Squares…and the Tumultuous Summer of ’72


There are certain seasons that stand out from others.  Perhaps it is a historical event that happened during that particular year, a team that overcame great odds or even a year of monumental changes that may be hard to recognize without the use of hind sight.  1972 is one of those years that on the surface while it was happening, the participants really were not living it going this is something great we are doing here.  It was a year that was plop in the middle of the time when the players union was starting to be a formidable force within the game, as well as a noticeable change in society’s values.  Time where authority was being challenged, inflation was starting to run rampant and in the public’s eyes baseball would start moving from just a game to a business.  Today’s book takes a look at the one pivotal year within this decade of change and shows some of the signs that people may have missed that the game was changing.

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By:Ed Gruver-2016

1972 offered some interesting things to baseball fans.  Rosters were jammed full of future Hall of Famers, some at the beginnings of their careers and sadly other at the end, but when the bell would ring, still able to bring it.  It was the first year the Player Union made enough noise to institute a strike and cost MLB owners some games, showing that Marvin Miller was not going to go away quietly as they had hoped.  Salaries were on the move up and players were going from needing to have extra income in the off-season(second job) to living comfortably all year on their baseball earnings.  On the field the most amazing thing happened was that the Oakland A’s run by the miserly Charlie Finley won the first of their three straight World Series titles.  But at the time nobody realized what they were about to witness.  Facing the straight laced Cincinnati Reds led by Pete Rose they knocked off their first title and showed the baseball world that the guys with their long hair and mustaches had finally arrived.

Ed Gruver’s new book takes the reader through the changing times in baseball during the 1972 season.  Looking back on that year from our comfy couches in 2016, the big headlines that year was the 1972 World Series between the A’s and the Reds.  Essentially a clash between old school baseball and new world values.  On the field it was all old school baseball but off the field the Oakland A’s were a sight glass into the changing norms of society.  Clothing, attitude and rules were all up for debate as far as the rowdy A’s were concerned.

The author also does a great job at covering at the different teams that made a splash during the 1972 season.   The Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals all had seasons to remember on the field and some individuals made headlines as well.  Willie Mays made triumphant return to the New York by joining the Mets,  Hank Aaron  was making headlines almost every day in his chase of Babe Ruth’s career home run mark and Dick Allen was singlehandedly saving the Chicago White Sox franchise on the way to winning the American League MVP trophy.  It gives the reader a good look of what was going on around baseball beyond just the World Series participants.  It shows the up and downs of other teams that before the decade was out would create their own histories.

This book gives you a great feel of what being part of 1972 was all about and how to some degree it was the changing of the guard within baseball.  Old school baseball thinking versus new school societal ways created some tumultuous times and 1972 was the tipping point.   I always enjoy these books that pick a single year and dissect all the important events.  We have seen this type of book in Dan Epstein’s book about the 1976 season, Stars & Strikes and TimWendel’s Summer of ’68.  Those books like this one, segregate that one season and look at the effects that it may have had on other seasons down the line.  These are great tools for fans who were not able to be there the first time around, but want to know the ins and outs of that season and what made it so special.

This book is published by the University of Nebraska press and the last book I recently did by them was in my opinion not up to their normal editing standards from a factual standpoint.  I am glad to say this book has raised the bar back up to their normal standards for the most part, but did have one easily verifiable mistake that drove me crazy, and as a Phillies fan it made me even crazier.  The book states that Dick Allen was the first black player ever on the Phillies when he debuted in 1963. That would be three years after the last team integrated in Major League Baseball.  For the Phillies the first player of color was John Kennedy in 1957.  Other than that there was nothing substantial in the error department.

If you are a fan of this era you should enjoy it.  It does start out a little slow and does offer a bit too much game play by play in spots but the product as a whole reads well.  You get a new appreciation for 1972, because this year is an integral part of a larger era and sometimes gets overlooked when examined as part of the greater time frame.

You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press

Hairs vs. Squares

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Finley Ball-How Two Outsiders Changed the Game Forever


Some members of off field personnel throughout the history of the game have left an indelible mark.  Whether it was their contributions to the game, their foresight or just their personality, they are hard people to forget.  These same people receive one of two legacies from the game of baseball.  They get the type of treatment after they die that they gave to Bill Veeck.  They really didn’t approve of his efforts while a member of the baseball establishment, but after he died he became an innovator.  The baseball establishment also had another whipping boy during this same era.  A man who was years ahead of his time and whose ideas and strategies would leave a lasting impression on the game.  During his time as a member of the owners club, he was ridiculed and mocked by his peers and honestly the passage of time and his death have not done much to change his legacy.  The name Charlie Finley is one that almost all baseball fans are familiar with, and one that several books have been written about.  Now, there is a book that gives the reader an inside look at the genius that was Charlie, along with the help of his right hand man Carl, and how together they built the dynasty that was the Oakland A’s.

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By: Nancy Finley-2016

Nancy Finley gives the reader a unique perspective of the Finley operations.  She is the daughter of Carl and the niece of Charlie who essentially grew up around the A’s during the dynasty years.  She gives the reader a nice background on how Charlie obtained the team along with a great history of the team during the Kansas City years.  She shows how Finley was willing to invest in his team and stadium, out of his own pocket, and was always willing to put on a show for his fans.  Without being a spoiler, he really wanted to give back to the fans and promote his product and his innovations really left a lasting impression on the game of baseball.

Next up Nancy shows you how the move to Oakland really came to fruition.  That move and Charlie’s willingness to build a winner from within, finally allowed the team to win a few world championships and become a full fledged dynasty.  Finally you see the change in baseball that was the ultimate demise of the Finley empire in Oakland and what forced him to reluctantly sell the team.

What I find the most interesting aspect of the book is the inside details the author is able to give the reader.  She is able to give great details on the day to day operations with shoe string staffs and how her dad Carl, was the number one trusted employee of Charles Finley.  Through their combined efforts they were able to build a baseball empire the like of which may never be seen again in the history of baseball.

This book gives us a great inside look of both the baseball operations and the people involved with the A’s during this era.  It also to me, gives a more personal portrait of Charlie Finley that we have never seen before.  It portrays him in a much kinder light than others I have ever seen before, and I think that portrayal is much more credible since it is from someone with first hand knowledge of the family.

This book is a fun trip through the Finley era.  I recommend if you have any interest in this era of baseball, to give this one a look.  It sheds some new, inside information on the Finley dynasty and how two outsiders really changed the game, and also what really became of Charlie O., the A’s beloved mascot.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Regnery History

Finley Ball

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Swinging ’73-Baseball’s Wildest Season


Some baseball seasons seem to have their own personality.  It could be the antics happening on the field or the drama that unfolds behind the scenes that keep certain seasons alive in the minds of fans for decades.  The 70’s was a decade that was never short on excitement.  Pick any year in that decade and something monumental was happening that helped shape the future of the game.  1973 was no different.  The most historical feat was the introduction of the Designated Hitter.  So monumental was it, that 45 years later we are still fighting over whether it is a good thing or not.  Today’s book takes a look at year that gave use everything from the DH to a long goodbye to Willie Mays.

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By:Matthew Silverman-2013

In the past couple years a few authors have taken on the task of picking a season from the 70’s and dissecting it.  Silverman has no shortage of material to work with in 1973, that is for sure.  From the introduction to the DH, the closing of original Yankee Stadium, the Miracle Mets and the wife swapping of Fritz Peterson are just a few of the points that made 1973 a spectacular season.

The author has done a nice job at looking at some of the important subjects of 1973, as mentioned above the implementation of the Designated Hitter, the painful farewell of Willie Mays and the Miracle Mets, the closing of original Yankee Stadium for remodeling, the Oakland A’s and their repeat winning of the division and of course last but not least new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his wife swapping pitchers.  Silverman covered them all with accuracy and great detail, he has presented a story that was interesting and engaging and a good read for the average fan on these subjects.

The problem I has with this book is that there was more going on in 1973 than just these few subjects mentioned above.  Hank Aaron was hot on the trail of Babe Ruth at that point.  You were right in the middle of Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine.  Roberto Clemente was killed right before the season started in a plane crash.  So there was no shortage of big stories that were a factor in 1973.  The author has mentioned some of these events in passing throughout the book, but nothing of any substantial merit, so I think he missed the boat there.

I understand the reasoning of why you would not want to spend any great amount of time talking about teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians, who were perennial bottom feeders in that era, but I think you would still want to address the full state of baseball if you were writing about one single season.  There were so many different things going on that it would have enable the reader to get a much broader picture of what was truly happening in the game of baseball during 1973.

By far this is not a bad book.  It covers the subjects it chooses to, very well.  Silverman is thorough and puts a fun spin on the events of 73.  He has created a good product that is definitely worth reading, just readers should be aware that it covers a few subjects very heavily, while passing over some of the events of that year of particular importance.

Perhaps I am just spoiled by books like Dan Epstein’s Stars and Strikes that covered the 1976 season, and now I hold all season books to that standard.  I don’t think any fan with an interest in 1973 will be disappointed, I just think the author missed his chance to paint a much broader picture of the magic that was 1973.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press

Swinging ’73

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

 

It Has to Start Somewhere!!!!!!


Baseball is a game full of firsts.  First pitch, first game, first out, first inning……the list is endless.  But for us baseball book geeks (a badge I wear with honor by the way), that list of firsts also includes our first baseball book.  For some people it starts in childhood when you get that first juvenile baseball book under your belt.  For others its in adulthood after you settle down and figure out who you are.  Then for the rest of us, its starts when you are 12 years old and stumble upon a book that you may not have been the target audience.

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There has never been a shortage of biographies out there about Reggie Jackson.  This one from 1984  I hold in higher esteem than all the others, mostly because it was my first.  My first baseball book was a shear accident.  My Dad, who I owe most of my fan dedication and knowledge to, bought me this book.  From his Thursday night supermarket trip in 1985 he plucked it from the bargain bin at Pathmark and brought it home for me.  Thus sending me on a literary journey lasting over 30 years so far.

I always liked Reggie Jackson because he was somewhat of a local hero.  He grew up in the town five minutes away from the one I grew up in.  He went to the local high school and at that time was the one superstar who came from our own backyard.  So right off the bat the appeal was there about the book of our local guy made good.

Now this book has been out for over thirty years, is probably tame by today’s standards and more biographies about Reggie have come out in the subsequent decades.   But for me, after countless other books, this book is the one.  For all of my time on earth, this book about Reggie, this tattered copy especially, will hold a special place in my heart forever.  It is the book that made me realize how many cool baseball books were out there. I may not have been the target audience of this book, but it did open my eyes to what baseball was really like.   This book led me to baseball classics, such as Dynasty and Bums by Peter Golenbock.  To books about Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Musial, Maris, DiMaggio and hundreds of others. Taking me to places in my own head, which for some was the only way imaginable to get there, allowing me to learn about the people and places that made baseball great.

I realize a lot of people say Ball Four was the book that brought them into the baseball world, and that it is the epitome of the baseball book.  For my money I will stick with my copy of Reggie.  Everybody has that one special baseball book they love for whatever reason they so chose.  For me its not that popular tell-all baseball book by Jim Bouton that everyone loves to some degree.  It is yet another tired rendition of how great Reggie Jackson was or is, depending on how you look at it and there is no other book out there I am willing to give it up for.

So take some time and pull out that old copy of the book that started it all for you.  Spend some time with that old worn out friend and re-live what made baseball books so appealing to you, because you will never forget your first.

Happy Reading

Gregg