As we sit here today, Opening Day is only five short days away. I find that very hard to believe since I am sitting here watching a foot and a half of snow that came three days ago, melt out the window, but I am sure the baseball scheduling Gods have that all figured out. The Spring edition of Odds and Ends is upon us and while everything we look at today may not be a 2018 new season release, they are still solid books to help the reader wander through the new baseball year.
Ronald T. Waldo always takes on somewhat obscure era’s and subjects for his books. It is a good thing because Waldo always shows the reader an almost forgotten era in baseball and brings prominent names back to the forefront. I like Waldo’s books because his thorough research always shines through in the book and you can rely on the accuracy of the stories he tells the reader. If you have any sort of interest in 1920’s baseball or want to use this book as a history lesson for yourself, than this book is definitely one you should check out. You can get this one from the friendly folks at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Staying in the same era of baseball, what more can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It has won numerous awards since its release last year and quite honestly deserves every one of them. Steinberg has done a phenomenal job bringing the life and career of Urban Shocker to the modern day fan. It gives the reader a glimpse of what baseball was like during that timeframe and makes you realize how even though we are still essentially playing the same game, times have changed dramatically. For those with an interest in players of the past, the New York Yankees and several other aspects this book presents to the reader, it is worth checking out. It offers so many levels of information that you will be glad you took the time to read it. You can get this one from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press.
There have been a few books written by, or about Lou in the past. For my money, this one is the best of the bunch. It is updated through the end of his managerial career and into retirement and really gets you to the personal side of Lou Piniella. It covers his full life and is not really specifically team focused. It goes through everywhere he stopped during his playing and managing days and really doesn’t pull any punches. He is telling it like he sees it at this point. Other books on Lou have been more team or time frame focused, so this one really shows it all. If you have read the other books, there may be some overlap of information on certain teams but for the grand picture of a career this is your best bet. Yu can get this one from the nice folks at Harper Collins Publishers.
If you have a Yankees book, you should always follow it with a Red Sox book. 1967 seems to be a watershed year for the Sox and always seems to be the year everyone references as the highlight of an era. It was their first real taste of success after a long drought but it was unfortunately not sustained. Crehan’s book takes a good look at 1967 and why it is so special to Boston fans and why it was an important year in team history. For those of us not around then or for those not paying attention to them in 1967 it gives a great look at what happened. If you are a hardcore BoSox fan, of course you will want to read this, but some of theses stories may be tried and true classics that you love to hear about. For others, it may be a good learning tool about 1967 and the names that help make this team famous. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books.
Where would the game be without the Sportswriters. They are a vital part of looking at the game and analyzing what transpires on the field. Jim Kaplan previously has written for Sports Illustrated and has decided to share his thoughts on the history of the game and some of his views of players, on field plays and other aspects we may not have thought about. Its a fun read and makes you look at things just a little differently than you had before. You can get this one from the nice folks at Levellers Press.
McFarland has never been a publisher that was one to shy away from overlooked players or long forgotten subjects and this one easily falls into that category. Roy Sievers was a feared hitter during the 50″s but was often overshadowed by the other greats of that decade both on the field and in print. Finally getting his due in book form, readers can now learn about the great career of one of baseballs most overlooked hitters of that decade as well as learn about an overall pretty nice guy. Its important that people like this from baseball history don’t get forgotten, and McFarland has done a nice job of helping preserve his legacy by getting this to market.
Baseball seems to have a singular year every decade where they shoot themselves in the foot and the 60’s were no exception. Widely known for being the year of the pitcher, 1968 was the year the powers that be put their dunce caps on once again. This is a good look at what management was like back in the day and how that has changed as well. It also shows how baseball has been able to survive and rise above its own stupidity at times. You can get both of these from the nice folks at McFarland.
So ready or not the new baseball season is upon us, so no matter who you root for we are all in First Place at least for one day.
Happy Reading and Go Phillies!
Reading baseball books can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get the inside story of what really happened. On the other, you see that our baseball heroes are human too. For me growing up in Philly, Glenn Wilson was one of those heroes. I spent many summer days at the Vet watching Glenbo roaming the outfield. He also ties into one special childhood memory I have. It was early in the 1985 season and it was Tastykake team player card giveaway day. I remember sitting in the outfield stands watching Glenn play with grace. It took some convincing to get my Dad to go to the game, and my Grandfather came along as well. It was the only time the three of us ever went to a game together, and for no particular reason Glenn Wilson always stuck out in my mind from that day. For that reason alone, I was pretty exited to jump into this book.
When you are a kid you think your favorite players have to be good guys. How else could they be? I mean really you think they are awesome so why wouldn’t they be. But sometimes reality does not quite live up to expectations and that happens here. Glenn Wilson flat-out admits during his baseball career that he was somewhat of a jerk. He admits he might not have appreciated the talent he was given and felt he was owed something. That right off the bat has to be hard for anyone to admit, I know I couldn’t do it. So now that my childhood reality was shattered I jumped further into this book and found it to be very interesting.
Glenbo reviews his years of growing up and making it to the majors. He talks about some of his family and how they helped him along the way. He also talks about his time with the Tigers and his disappointment in being traded to the Phillies. Struggles in Philadelphia are talked about along with some other issues in other cities along his journey. He takes the time to be honest with the reader and not try to sugar coat any of his behavior. If he was a jerk about something he freely admitted it.
His struggles after leaving baseball was something I never heard about before, and to Glenn’s credit he is very honest with himself and the reader. As a reader I appreciate it when the player is honest with me. It adds loads of credibility to his story instead of just writing a book for a money grab. The bottom line of this story is that after baseball and some personal issues Glenn was a broken man. What happens next is something that I found most interesting.
Glenn turns to his faith and trusted in God and that faith helped him transform his life. I will not go in to great details here of the way God has helped Glenn transform his life and become a better person. You will have to read the book to get that story, but quite honestly it is a very remarkable story. I sometimes shy away from books that have a religious aspect to them, because they don’t always come off as genuine and that to me is the ultimate disrespect. That being said, this story is absolutely amazing and the effect it has had on Glenn Wilson’s life has been remarkable.
If you are a fan of Glenn Wilson’s this is a really good book and worth reading. He is brutally honest about his life and himself, on and off the field. This book is also a good read if you are having troubles in your own life, because it shows the strength you are able to find by turning to God.
Now if only someday I can get my Tastykake photo signed to complete my childhood dream!
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lucid Books