Growing up in Philadelphia, my childhood coincided with the career of one Michael Jack Schimdt. Arguably one of, if not the greatest third baseman to ever play the game of baseball. Owner of 548 Home Runs, three MVP awards and a World Series Championship to go along with his Hall of Fame resume. The only down side to Schmidt’s career was the love hate relationship he had with the Phillies fans. I got to witness the sometimes borderline train wreck relationship between the 3rd baseman and the fans, and honestly it was not always pretty. I finally found a book that shows the softer side of the burly third baseman and helps fans in Philadelphia appreciate what we really had.
I admit this book is a little dated. It came out five years after Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, and at the time, and even today for that matter there is not a wealth of Schmidt books on the market. He is a complex personality that was never truly appreciated by the Philadelphia fans until he was almost gone.
William Kashatus does a tremendous job of chronicling the career of Mike Schmidt. The high school and college injuries that almost ended the career before it began. The minor league struggles that helped shape his personality and forced him to question his abilities. The author also shows an inside look at the pressures the Phillies put single-handedly on Schmidt’s shoulders and the effects it had on his career development.
This book also shows the reader the great influence that Pete Rose was on Schmidt’s career after they picked up the free agent to get them over the playoff hump. He was the extra mentor Schmidt needed to build some self esteem and accept and realize his true talents. It also shows the ongoing relationship that transpired between the fans, the media and Mike Schmidt. If you were not in Philly during his career this book gives a real good portrayal of what really went down.
There are a few books about Schmidt out there but not something that shows this much career depth about Schmidt himself. It was a little light on personal details about Schmidt’s life and I think by design Schmidt may have agreed to be interviewed for the book with that condition. Even with that restriction this is still the most thorough and in depth look at the player and the man.
All baseball fans can learn something from this book. Even Phillies fans can gain some new insight from this as well. Its well worth the time to read it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
Baseball announcers could almost be considered part of the family. No matter which team is your favorite, you form a special bond with the announcers. With the hours you spend listening to them throughout the course of a season they almost become an integral part of your life. They consistently come into your home night after night and bring you the play by play and interesting antecdotes that both entertain and educate. It is no wonder why this new book has asked the people who have the best seat in the house night after night to reflect on the game we all so dearly love.
The Voices of Baseball covers all the current Major League Baseball teams. Interviews between the author and an announcer from each team gives the reader an inside glimpse of each franchise. With some basic history of the team and its ballpark you get a general feel for that team. By going into greater detail of what makes the team so special to its fans shows how the announcers understand their audiences and what makes them tick. The announcers share their own personal favorite moments and how each of their own ballparks have effected games played there.
These people by trade are great storytellers, and this book allows them to do what they are best at. Each team has a unique story to share and the fans benefit most from their storytelling. As with any game they work, they are able to explain events in a way that even though the fans are not there, they feel like they were. To me that is the sign of a great announcer, being able to paint a picture in a listeners mind. It is what sets apart the good ones from the great ones.
Baseball fans should enjoy this one as it gives a nice feel of other teams besides your own. It also gives a team by team picture of what we all find so great about the game of baseball.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield
Do you ever wonder what happened to all the old players you rooted for? As a fan, one day they are a vital part of your daily routine and then the next day they are gone. You invest time in players six months out of the year, so much so that they seem to become part of your life. As time erodes skills, these players just often vanish into thin air once your favorite team is done with them. Now you can take a walk down memory lane and catch up with those players of yesteryear.
I will admit, I am a sucker for books like these. It gives me the chance to take a trip back in time and re-live a few memories with some of the players I followed during their careers. It also gives me a chance to catch up with these same players and see where their lives went after baseball. Since fans dedicate so much emotion to the game during the season, you form a personal connection with certain players each season. That is why these books to me almost feel like catching up with some old friends.
Sports Publishing publishes these books for various teams throughout the league using authors that are well-educated and connected with their respective teams. Using these type of authors allows the reader to see some famous and not so famous players that they can relate to. Fran Zimniuch who is the author of the Phillies book brings us the stars like Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts which appeal to multiple generations. But he also catches up with Bill Laxton, Costen Shockley and Doug Clemens, which honestly only hard-core Phillies fans would even know they were part of the organization.
Rob Raines takes the same approach to his Cardinals version of the book, but honestly due to the pedigree of the St. Louis Cardinals he has a better pool of players of which to choose from. The end result is he has a few more well-known names compared to the Phillies book. Both books offer the fans of those teams a fun and interesting read that fly’s by.
I think fans of each respective team should take a look at these, because you get a little history lesson and might find some players that you never realized were part of the team at one point in time. It also is a fun trip down memory lane and you may find yourself going hey I remember when that happened. Sports Publishing has a pretty big team list of these types of books so there is something for everybody.
You can get these books and several other teams from the nice folks at Sports Publishing