It is a very sad fact that no matter how good a player is or was, they sometimes get forgotten in baseball history. Flashier, louder and more savvy players come along and steal the spotlight while these great players just go about their business playing the game. This also extends to other arenas like the Hall of Fame, because some players get forgotten by the voters in Cooperstown as well. Baseball publishing is another area where so many of the stories that should be told, if for no other reason than preservation of the game’s history, usually are not. Ken Boyer is one of those players that had an incredible career, but truly never got any of the written credit he deserved. Boyer recently shared a book about himself and his siblings and a few books aimed at the juvenile set were published during his career, but up until now he has never gotten the book he really deserved. Kevin McCann has published the book that baseball fans have been wanting and waiting for about Ken Boyer.
Ken Boyer was a staple of St. Louis Cardinals baseball for a long time. Receiver of numerous accolades during his career, he was the type of baseball player parents were glad that their kids looked up to. For some reason throughout time, Boyer never got the recognition he deserved form historians. Perhaps it was his low key demeanor and how he went about his business or some other unknown reason, but it really is a shame the world has not recognized his talents.
Kevin McCann has produced a real gem with this book. He takes a look at Boyer’s early life and how his early life struggles helped forge the strong personality that his was. He also takes a look at Boyer’s climb up the baseball ladder. Experiences in the Minor Leagues all added to the personality that eventually shone through in St. Louis.
McCann also takes the reader on a journey along with Ken Boyer through his impressive time manning Third Base for the Cardinals. World Series triumphs, All-Star Games and an MVP award just to keep it interesting were all bestowed upon Boyer while manning the hot corner. Next he takes you through the winding down portion of his career with stops with the Mets, White Sox and Dodgers. But the journey doesn’t stop there with Boyer. The author shows us the steps Boyer took to remain in baseball. By starting at the bottom and working his way back up again, he was able to take over the managerial reigns of the Cardinals for a while with limited success before his untimely death in 1982.
Finally McCann makes a solid case for Boyer’s inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Honestly if you can make a solid case to have Ron Santo in the Hall at this point then Ken Boyer is a no-brainer for induction. For some reason baseball has overlooked Boyer’s career and has shown to some degree the flaws with the Hall of Fame voting system.
McCann has written a great book with this one. The writing style flows smoothly, moves fast and makes the reader feel like they were actually there. It is a great story that I for one am glad is finally being told on the level it deserves. The book is very hard to put down once you get started.
Baseball fans should check this one regardless of team allegiance. It is a player that should be given the historical respect he deserves and hopefully this book takes an important step forward in gaining recognition for the legacy Ken Boyer left behind.
You can get this book from the nice folks at BrayBree Publishing
In each generation there is at least one player that transcends team allegiances. No matter where you are from or who you root for, there is a guy who everyone takes an interest in their career. Roberto Clemente, Bob Feller and several others come to mind, but the one that really stands out to me is Stan Musial. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about Stan the Man. He was a great ambassador to both the game of baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals. His legacy and outgoing personality carried him through life for the six decades after he retired. That is why going into todays book I had such high hopes for it.
High hopes sometimes in the baseball literature world can sometimes lead to disappointment. In no way was it disappointment in the subject matter, but more the writing style. I enjoy baseball biographies more than any other genre of baseball books. With that in mind I have obviously read hundreds of baseball bio’s, sometimes three, four or even seven on the same person, so I usually know what to expect in these types of books.
Stan Musial is an incredible subject for a biography. He had a great personality and always had a smile face. His career and retirement were not once touched by scandal, so Stan by that measure, is an author’s dream as far as research and a fan’s dream to read about. Wayne Stewart has made a valiant attempt to chronicle the life and career of Stan the Man. He did a very complete and accurate job on the research details on the story itself, but I think he crossed a line that is hard to walk in baseball biographies. The final story came off as more of a fan worship to his favorite player as opposed to a baseball biography.
The book for my money beleaguered many points and makes drawn out attempts in explaining the details of the story. Sometimes in a biography less can be more. Obviously when it is not a first hand story you need a ton of detail to paint a complete picture for the reader. This book unfortunately does to much of that to make sure it doesn’t miss any part of the story. When the author does that, it slows down the flow of the story and the reader feels that they are stuck in that part of the story much longer than they actually are.
Wayne Stewart on the plus side, did nice research on Stan and conducted some informative interviews, but the presentation of the story was lacking for my taste. There are a few other Stan Musial biographies out there that I feel flow better than this one. If you are a big Stan Musial fan, you more than likely will be able to overlook the slow pace of this book. I think the fan that has admired Stan the Man from afar is going to have more trouble embracing this book, like I did.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books at the link below
I admit in my knowledge of baseball there are some holes. The biggest void is in pre World War I knowledge. I know there are some fascinating stories to be read from that era, but I have never gone out of my way to learn about it. Todays book offers a rare look into that time frame for me.
The Summer of Beer and Whiskey
By:Edward Achorn – 2013 Public Affairs Publishing
It’s amazing sometimes when you find out the real reasons behind important events. Chris Von der Ahe who was the owner of the St. Louis team in the American Association is the driving force behind both the league and this book. Achorn’s book chronicles the upstart and growth of the American Association. The fledgling league was trying to attract business and at the same time clean up its act, as well as remove some of the dirtier aspects of their game. Gambling was prevalent and their hopes were by cleaning up the games, they would attract more business.
Through Von der Ahe’s promotions and work, they created a formidable league that actually turned a profit, as well as competing with the already established National League. With adding Sunday baseball and tickets for half the price of those in the National League, they attracted big crowds. Oh I almost forgot, the one thing that did help make their league a success. Through Von der Ahe’s direction they sold beer and whiskey at the games, which the crowds heartily enjoyed. In fact, that may have been Von der Ahe’s initial intent to being part of the league. He wanted to sell more beer at his tavern so he thought the association to the league would help his business.
Edward Achorn does a great job researching his subject. He goes to great lengths to explore and explain his topics. I can not imagine this was a very easy task considering the passage of time. Overall, I recommend it to the people who enjoy learning about this era, or are already knowledgable about it.
Now the down side of the book for me personally. At first, I was not sure if it was the book itself or the subject matter, but I found there were parts of the book dragging along. My thought is that it was the subject matter of the book and my lack of knowledge in the formative years. I have read other books that the subject was good, but the writing was horrible and it was still able to hold my attention. By far this is not one of those books. It is well written but the era did not hold my attention enough for me to really get into it. I think it may have just been an issue with me, and not so much the book. The right person who enjoys this era and is the least bit knowledgeable about it will really enjoy the book.
You can get this book from Public Affairs Publishing.