Throughout its history baseball has seen many changes. From the way its played, the playing facilities, player and management relations as well as fan appreciation have all been subject to these changes. For me now in my fifth decade of being a baseball fan it is hard to imagine what it was like nearly a century ago on the diamond. So it always a learning experience for me to find a book about a player from that era and see how many changes have occurred over time. Todays book takes a look at one of those players from yesteryear that really does not get all the accolades he truly deserves.
I will admit I was not very familiar with Smoky Joe Wood until recently. I had read his interviews in other books, most recently Roger Angell’s Late Innings, but I never took the time to check out what his career was all about. What changed is I found out Wood is buried in the next town over from me, Shohola, Pa. Now that may not be a big deal to most, but when you realize I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania and baseball is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind around here, for a lonely baseball fan it becomes a big deal.
Gerald Wood takes the reader on a historical journey through Wood’s career. Looking at really good numbers and career events that make a strong case for considering Wood for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It draws comparisons to some of the game’s greats of that era and in my humble opinion Smoky Joe really can hold his own amongst the big name stars.
When you read about other players of this era they can sometimes come off stiff and dry. This book is a good representation of Wood’s personality and he comes off as a pretty interesting man who led a fascinating life. A book like this is more than a history lesson for fans of this era of baseball, it also brings to the forefront one of the personalities of the game that should not be forgotten.
When this book came out it received numerous awards and acclaim. It was all well deserved and I found it very hard to put this book down. It really gave a great feel of the times and brought forth a personality that is not as common or even main stream any longer. Smoky Joe’s legacy lives on in this book and really should be looked at by the Veterans committee members who are discussing his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame this year.
Those baseball fans who haven’t done so already should check this one out. It is more than a learning experience, it is a journey through a very interesting life backed by a strong and engaging personality.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press