We all need a code to live by. Whether it is society’s law as a whole or a personal adopted set of principles. These rules exist for a reason. They set boundaries for us to live by, both as a society and as individuals. Without the boundaries or principals we would fall in to utter chaos. That brings us to todays book…..
The Ten Commandments of Baseball created by Joe McCarthy
By:J.D. Thorne, 2009 Sporting Chance Press
We all know the background on Joe McCarthy. His record speaks for itself as a Hall of Fame manager. He had incredible success as manager of the New York Yankees, winning several championships and he also was the first manager to win a pennant in both leagues. His career success speaks for itself to this day and has only been matched by a select few since. Joe McCarthy had a set of principles on which he used in his own life and his managing of players. He was credited with creating them in 1921 and based on his success after that point, these principles may actually be of some serious merit.
I may be old school in saying this, but some of the rules in the book seem like common sense. I understand the world today is sometimes void of common sense but even almost 100 years after these principals were created, they can still apply. The rules cover various aspects of the human experience. The areas covered in these commandments are risk, fear, hustle, determination, pride, not making excuses, self-control and nobody is perfect. I do not want to go into further detail about each one, because if I do you will have no reason to actually pick up the book and read it. Each one does have a place in each of our own lives if you want to take an honest account of your life and help yourself achieve success.
J.D. Thorne’s writing style flows very smoothly in this book. The book starts with a brief history of the game itself then moves into McCarthy’s career accomplishments. After those sections, the author reviews each commandment. First, you review the general idea of the commandment. Second, you see how it has fit into baseball since they were created. Finally, you see how these commandments have fit into the author’s life and how he has interpreted them for himself. These commandments are like many things in life, open to interpretation. So they may mean one thing to the author but something totally different to the reader. It was a fun to see if I interpreted these the same way the author did. These really are effective rules, as far as I am concerned, and could become very useful in everyday life. Almost 100 years later they still have value. The book is a quick read at 172 pages but very enjoyable, so I recommend it to all my readers.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sporting Chance Press
Baseball aside for a moment. Today is 9/11. The anniversary of a horrid day in our country’s history, where we lost so many people. We should all take a moment to be thankful for our country, our family and friends, our freedoms and those who have risked and lost their lives to keep us safe and free. We are all lucky enough to live and be members of the greatest country in the world and I think sometimes we might forget that. Please for one day, everyone put all the rhetoric aside and be thankful and proud to be an American. God bless us one and all. Please remember every one those who have fought the galant fight for ALL of us and our freedoms.
I will admit my Baseball knowledge does have a very specified range. While that range does cover many eras, it does by nature exclude some parts of the sports history. The area I feel most comfortable with is from the end of World War II to the current day. So you may be wondering where I am going with this? My point is it excludes the Deadball Era.
The point of this blog for me was to share my thoughts on books and also expand my knowledge of the game’s history. I figured that by expanding my reading horizons I would expand my knowledge base as well. So that brings me to today’s book……
Public Bonehead, Private Hero The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle
By Mike Cameron (2010-Sporting Chance Press)
I was not really sure what to expect from this book. Honestly Fred Merkle has never really been a household name for me. But I will say I was surprised at this story and even more surprised that I had never heard of it before.
In a nutshell the entire basis of this story revolves around one game ending play between the Cubs and Giants in a regular season game in 1908. Unfortunately this outcome of this game affected the entire pennant race between these two teams. Without revealing too much about the story to those who have not read this one, Merkle made a play in the game that was normal practice in 1908. It was a widely accepted play and as it was interpreted in game play, acceptable. In the end the Giants lost the pennant due to the outcome of that one game.
My gut feeling after getting about halfway through this book was “Hey, they are going to make Fred Merkle the scapegoat for that whole season”. In the end that is exactly what happened. That one play on that fateful day followed him his entire career and the rest of his life. The somewhat sad part is he just accepted his fate and never did anything to either defend himself or escape his fate.
This book does an in-depth summary of the 1908 season and the way society reacted to baseball in that decade. It goes almost daily recapping the race and the outcome of each game. It also chronicles Merkle’s career and the haunting of the one play that earned him the unwarranted name “Bonehead”. The only thing I wish this book did more was delve further into Merkle’s life after Baseball and how he handled the pressure of being Bonehead Merkle. It does go through his life after Baseball but I have a feeling that due to the age of the story and it now being 100+ Years later time may have eroded some of the information and this was all that was available.
In my opinion this is a sad story in the fact that one play on a baseball diamond that was not out of the ordinary, haunted this poor guy until the day he died. He should not have been judged on that one play and it certainly should not have followed him forever. Honestly have we not forgiven Bill Buckner for 1986? Have we not forgiven countless others for breaking our hearts on the field time and time again?
I think after reading this book I have a new found respect for Fred Merkle and his unwarranted nickname. The amazing part to me is he played for almost 20 more years even after the fateful game but still let it eat away at him. As I said above I would have like to read more about the man and his thoughts versus the player but it was still a very good book that I had trouble putting down. Sometimes when you step out of your reading comfort zone you can be amazed. After all a history lesson sometimes can be a good thing. For fans of the Deadball era you will really enjoy this one.
This book is available from the good folks at Sporting Chance Press http://www.sportingchancepress.com