There are certain seasons that stand out from others. Perhaps it is a historical event that happened during that particular year, a team that overcame great odds or even a year of monumental changes that may be hard to recognize without the use of hind sight. 1972 is one of those years that on the surface while it was happening, the participants really were not living it going this is something great we are doing here. It was a year that was plop in the middle of the time when the players union was starting to be a formidable force within the game, as well as a noticeable change in society’s values. Time where authority was being challenged, inflation was starting to run rampant and in the public’s eyes baseball would start moving from just a game to a business. Today’s book takes a look at the one pivotal year within this decade of change and shows some of the signs that people may have missed that the game was changing.
1972 offered some interesting things to baseball fans. Rosters were jammed full of future Hall of Famers, some at the beginnings of their careers and sadly other at the end, but when the bell would ring, still able to bring it. It was the first year the Player Union made enough noise to institute a strike and cost MLB owners some games, showing that Marvin Miller was not going to go away quietly as they had hoped. Salaries were on the move up and players were going from needing to have extra income in the off-season(second job) to living comfortably all year on their baseball earnings. On the field the most amazing thing happened was that the Oakland A’s run by the miserly Charlie Finley won the first of their three straight World Series titles. But at the time nobody realized what they were about to witness. Facing the straight laced Cincinnati Reds led by Pete Rose they knocked off their first title and showed the baseball world that the guys with their long hair and mustaches had finally arrived.
Ed Gruver’s new book takes the reader through the changing times in baseball during the 1972 season. Looking back on that year from our comfy couches in 2016, the big headlines that year was the 1972 World Series between the A’s and the Reds. Essentially a clash between old school baseball and new world values. On the field it was all old school baseball but off the field the Oakland A’s were a sight glass into the changing norms of society. Clothing, attitude and rules were all up for debate as far as the rowdy A’s were concerned.
The author also does a great job at covering at the different teams that made a splash during the 1972 season. The Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals all had seasons to remember on the field and some individuals made headlines as well. Willie Mays made triumphant return to the New York by joining the Mets, Hank Aaron was making headlines almost every day in his chase of Babe Ruth’s career home run mark and Dick Allen was singlehandedly saving the Chicago White Sox franchise on the way to winning the American League MVP trophy. It gives the reader a good look of what was going on around baseball beyond just the World Series participants. It shows the up and downs of other teams that before the decade was out would create their own histories.
This book gives you a great feel of what being part of 1972 was all about and how to some degree it was the changing of the guard within baseball. Old school baseball thinking versus new school societal ways created some tumultuous times and 1972 was the tipping point. I always enjoy these books that pick a single year and dissect all the important events. We have seen this type of book in Dan Epstein’s book about the 1976 season, Stars & Strikes and TimWendel’s Summer of ’68. Those books like this one, segregate that one season and look at the effects that it may have had on other seasons down the line. These are great tools for fans who were not able to be there the first time around, but want to know the ins and outs of that season and what made it so special.
This book is published by the University of Nebraska press and the last book I recently did by them was in my opinion not up to their normal editing standards from a factual standpoint. I am glad to say this book has raised the bar back up to their normal standards for the most part, but did have one easily verifiable mistake that drove me crazy, and as a Phillies fan it made me even crazier. The book states that Dick Allen was the first black player ever on the Phillies when he debuted in 1963. That would be three years after the last team integrated in Major League Baseball. For the Phillies the first player of color was John Kennedy in 1957. Other than that there was nothing substantial in the error department.
If you are a fan of this era you should enjoy it. It does start out a little slow and does offer a bit too much game play by play in spots but the product as a whole reads well. You get a new appreciation for 1972, because this year is an integral part of a larger era and sometimes gets overlooked when examined as part of the greater time frame.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
I figured with my extended time off to recuperate I would have plenty of time to write on my blog. Boy was I wrong, between needing to get up and walk around every ten minutes because I am stiffening up and the fact the the medicines keep knocking me out, I am having trouble finding the time to write, let alone read. But, what it has done is given me the chance to look at some books that I would not always feel were the correct fit for an entire single post. The book could be too short, it could be a coffee table book or it could be a book that doesn’t really target my audience. These are in no way bad books, because honestly if they sucked, I wouldn’t waste the time putting them on here for everyone to look at them, but there is a format issue that doesn’t work well within my bookcase. So from time to time we do one of these multi book posts to clean up one of the shelves in the bookcase……and share some of these books to the world. So here we go…..
Baseball’s No -Hit Wonders-More than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats
By Dirk Lammars-2016
Is it me, or do no hitters seem to happen more often today then they did say thirty of forty years ago? Has the level of play in the league diminished that much that these have become commonplace? Lammers takes the readers through the interesting history of the no hitter and how it has played out through the history of the game. He shows the pitchers and hitters involved, no hitters that were broken up after 26 outs and all the other odd and wacky things that happened in the past to those pitchers, both lucky and good enough to even flirt with a no-no. If your interested in the who, what, when, where and why of no-hitters you will really enjoy what this book will bring to your table. You can get this book from the nice folks at Unbridled Books
The 50 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Pirates History
By David Finoli-2016
These types of books are always fun. For the one and only reason that no two people will ever agree 100 percent as to who belongs at what spot on the list. I really don’t know what the criteria is by the authors to make it on to these types of lists, but they never seem to disappoint the reader. They always include the Hall of Famers, team superstars as well as the hometown heroes. You would also have to think they target their specified teams fan base so they are always eager to please the homers. I had done this type of book by another author on the Pittsburgh Pirates last year and I went back to pull it out to compare. What I found is that more then half of the players they can agree on being in the book,, but differ on where they rank. So bottom line is if you read one of these books about your team and find another one, check it out because it may give you a different spin on the players that may be more in line with your personal rankings as well. You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield
The BUCS!-The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates
By John McCollister-2016
Lets stay in Pittsburgh for a second on this book. The BUCS! takes a very brief look at the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. From its 19th century beginnings to its current day under field manager Clint Hurdle, this book takes an abbreviated, but fast paced look at the history in Pittsburgh. If the Pirates are not your team and never have been in the past, this book is a great way to get a good albeit brief history from Kiner and Roberto to Bonds and McCutchen. Its only roughly 200 pages, so even if you are familiar with Bucs history it would be a quick and easy refresher course. You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press.
The Legends of the Philadelphia Phillies
By Bob Gordon-2016
What would one of these posts be without a Phillies book? This book, first released by Bob Gordon in 2005, compiles some of the greatest names in Phillies history and gives strong bios on each of those lucky enough to be a Phillie. It gives a great look at team history from an author that has some great ties to the team itself, through several other books he has written. So why do you need to buy the reprint of a book released ten years ago? It has been updated for deaths of the older players and it also has added a few Phillies superstars that became prominent in the last half of the last decade when the Phillies were on top of the world. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
The Grind-Inside Baseball’s Endless Season
By Barry Svrluga-2015
Without question, Baseball has the most grueling schedule of all the professional leagues. Almost stretching to nine months of the year when you factor in pre and post season, it would take some sort of toll on even the strongest of personalities. Svrluga has taken a look at this relentless schedule and the effect it has on the personal lives of those involved and how it effects almost everyone involved with a team. It looks at varying position players , the 26th man on most rosters, travelling secretaries, spouses, kids and clubhouse attendants. It really is an interesting look behind the scenes of the game and what those involved are willing to sacrifice to be a part of the great game of baseball. You van get this book from the nice folks at Blue Rider Press
Diamond Madness-Classic Episodes of Rowdyism, Racism and Violence in Major League Baseball
By William A. Cook-2013
William Cook’s Diamond Madness gives the reader a good look at the scary side of baseball. When you get beyond all of the normal hero worship that comes as part of the normal territory with the game and when those things get really scary. Fan obsessions, death threats, violence, racism, shootings and robberies are all just a part of what is shown to the readers of this book. It is amazing how even though these are normal stories in the everyday world, they are so many times magnified just by playing baseball. It also goes to show how much work the people behind the scenes in baseball put in to making sure nothing tarnishes the wholesomeness of the American Past-time. I think if you check this out it will show some new perspectives to the average fan of what really goes on. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sunbury Press.
Tales From the Atlanta Braves Dugout
By Cory McCartney-2016
I will admit it………..I love this series! You can get whatever team you wish at this point because it seems like almost every team is available now. You can also use it as a history lesson to brush up on all the funny stories of a team that you are not very familiar with and get a good feel for what that teams history is all about. If you grab the book of your favorite team it is a chance to regale in all the stories you have heard time and time again and like a favorite uncle at a holiday dinner, are glad to listen to over and over. You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
I See the Crowd Roar-The Story of William “Dummy” Hoy
By Joseph Rotheli & Agnes Gaertner-2014
This book is intended for a younger audience but it does provide a very deep lesson for all fans. William Hoy was hearing impaired and never heard a single fan cheer for him. The book shows how Hoy overcame his disability and made the best if it as well as keeping up a positive attitude during the course of events. The book also shows the positive impact had on the function of the game and how things like hand signals that were originally implemented for Hoy alone, have become mainstays of the game generations later. It truly is an inspiring story that younger fans should be made aware of so they have a complete baseball education. There is also a movie version of the book in the pipeline as well. You can get this book from the nice folks at the lil-red-foundation.
Black Baseball, Black Business-Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar
By Roberta Newman & Joel Nathan Rosen-2014
In baseball nothing is ever as simple as it seems. This book takes a look at how the integration of baseball, while a great thing on the civil rights front, created waves that destroyed black economies in the larger cities that were homes to Negro League Teams. It is a really interesting look at the economies of the integration of baseball on those parties that were not in any way involved in the decision making process or the game of baseball itself. It also shows how the innocents involved were essentially destroyed by the baseball powers that were at the time pushing it as a cause for greater good.
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
There are few figures in baseball that were as polarizing as Dick Allen was during his career. Philadelphia fans maintained a blurry line between love and hate for Dick which helped forge his reputation that followed him from city to city. Allen was a bonafide superstar during his era, who some say never met his true potential. Multiple stops in his career ended in messes that were partially Dick’s fault but in hindsight not totally. There have not been many attempts at putting Dick Allen’s complete story in print, quite honestly, this is one of the few I have ever found in my travels. Now there is a new book coming out in a few weeks that gives a more in depth look at the man behind the legend.
Where does one even start when talking about Dick Allen? He is such a complex personality that has gotten so little attention since his retirement that it would seem overwhelming to any writer willing to tackle the subject. The prior book about Dick Allen as mentioned above relied on interviews with Allen himself. It presented some conflicting stories that made the reader feel like he did not get the whole story. This new book relies on interviews with some people who witnessed events first hand and gave a different perspective on everything that happened.
Nathanson walks the reader through Dick’s entire career, from the minors to all his stops in the majors. He shows the horrible treatment Allen endured in the south during his baseball training as well as the same racism he he had to put up with playing for Philadelphia. The author dissects the love hate relationship between Allen and the Phillies fans and shows his treatment may have been a part of the bigger mindset of the town itself, not just a personal dislike for Allen. On the flip side of the City of Philadelphia’s shortcomings you also get to see how Dick Allen did not make the situation better for himself along the way. Some things get clarified while other things may forever be a mystery. Neither party is innocent in the course of events but this book helps clarify the fact that the events that happened in Philadelphia were not all Dick Allen’s fault.
The author also covers all of the other stops along Dick’s career path. While each one had a mix of success and trouble, each one ended the same way, the team was glad to be moving on. The most interesting part to me of this book was the events that led up to Dick’s return to the Phillies. You see the change in the city’s mindset and team management that helped welcome Dick home for one last stand. You can see the healing on both sides and the change of attitudes. To some extent I think the Phillies fans realized what they once had and to some degree were willing to make amends for past indiscretions. This also allowed Dick to leave baseball on his own terms and finish up with the Oakland A’s. The only thing I wish this book had was more about Dick on a personal level. It mostly sticks to his career, but does offer a few glimpses behind the scenes. I wold like to know more about Dick Allen the person, but few of us will ever be so lucky.
This book really sheds some light on Dick Allen and the events of his career. There are plenty of things that transpired that fans, owners, management and Dick himself should not be so proud of, but it does give a complete picture of what happened during those times. All that aside, the most recent question as of late is does Dick belong in the Hall of Fame. If you remove the Phillies association out of the equation for me, I still say yes to his induction. He was a major player in the 60’s and 70’s and made some great contributions to the game on the field and contributed some great things of the field when he mentored younger players. His introverted personality may have rubbed some people the wrong way at the time, but it still not diminish his contributions to the game. Hopefully the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will get it right the next time around.
Baseball fans should not miss this book. It is a player that never has gotten much book coverage and it really sheds new light on what we all thought about Dick Allen.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Pennsylvania Press
I am a born and raised product of Philadelphia. I am loyal to my teams, much of it to a fault and live and die by what they accomplish. In my lifetime my Phillies have won two World Series Championships, five pennants and twelve division titles. For some teams that may be impressive considering it covers over four decades, but not for the Phillies. They have been around for almost 135 years and have had limited success. Even when they capture the brass ring they somehow find a way to screw it up. Today’s book takes a look at how the Phillies are intertwined with the city of Philadelphia’s self image and how they have helped shape each others destinies.
Let me start out by saying, we Philadelphia sports fans are nowhere near as bad as our reputation states. Yes we are passionate, yes we are dedicated and yes we expect 110% effort from our players. We hate to see other stadiums where the game is an afterthought, people only go there for the social status attached to it and leave by the 7th inning to beat traffic. We are not the baby hating, nun tripping, puppy kicking hate mongers the world has made us out to be. We are just very, very dedicated, I mean seriously we only beat up Santa Claus that one time.
Mitchell Nathanson has written a book that take a look at the 1977 Phillies NLCS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That series contained a sequence of events that Phillies fans to this day refer to as Black Friday(Game 3). Basically, it was the game that shifted the entire series momentum to the Dodgers and they never looked back. My journey as a Phillies fan started the next day after Black Friday when my Dad took me to Game 4 for my very first in person game at Veterans Stadium at the ripe old age of four.
Nathanson does a very nice job of reviewing the series but what I found more interesting about this book is how shows the parallel between the city’s baseball teams and its self worth. It chronicles both the Athletics and their time in town as well as the Phillies. Quite honestly when Philly had two teams the Phillies were the red headed step child of the town. Only after the A’s departure did the city start to identify with the hapless Phillies.
The book does do a very nice job of covering the events of the 1977 NLCS as they unfolded. The downside is that portion of the story is no more than 30% of the entire book. It has more written about activities in Philadelphia and the history of the city. If you are not from Philadelphia or do not have some sort of interest in city politics you may have a bit of trouble getting through this. Overall it does a very nice job of sharing the story of Philadelphia, but if you are looking for a true baseball story it may not have enough game information to hold your interest.
Readers should check it out so that they can get a better idea of why the Phillies fans are the way we are, and may God have mercy on our Philly sports fan souls.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
Choosing the best of the best can really ignite some serious debates. Who belongs, who doesn’t, who should be eligible and who should not even be there always makes for good conversations among friends. The Baseball Hall of Fame, which is nestled in that sleepy little town in upstate New York, is the mecca of baseball junkies. You can walk among some of the greatest artifacts throughout the history of the game as well as visiting the memorials to all the games brightest stars. If you are not lucky enough to be located within a reasonable distance of the Hall like I am (2 hours), then you may not be able to get there as often as you would like or even at all for that matter. I found a book, if you are one of the unlucky few that may never get there that will help you experience some of the magical aura that is The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Baseball Hall of Fame has really published a first-rate book with this one. The quality of the book alone is incredible. From the paper stock, to the printing this is a really nice book. Quality of the book is something I really never comment on, but this one is really that good.
The Hall has compiled all its members, including managers, executives and umpires and given the reader in-depth overviews of every single person. Each player section is broken down by position into its own chapter and then sorted by induction year. It has dedicated two pages to each personality and gives a nice biography of their career as well as a brief snippet of that persons unique personality. It is a nice feature for each person that you don’t always get in these types of books, because it is usually more focused on the career numbers. Each person’s Hall of Fame plaque also heads their individual page so you are able to read exactly what is hanging on the wall in Cooperstown.
The other nice feature is a several page essay at the beginning of each chapter. A player from that chapter has written about his own experiences during his career that led him to The Hall of Fame. It is something you don’t normally see in a Hall of Fame coffee table book and adds a real human touch to this book. I think the Hall of Fame sometimes lacks a human touch when speaking about its members, so this brings it back to a very personal and fan friendly level.
This book covers all the players that were enshrined as of the publication date. The only down side to these types of books is that they are not accurate for very long. Once the next July rolls around someone is missing. But honestly this book is done so well it should belong in every fan’s library. You may be familiar with some of the names, but there are others that are a real learning experience for fans young and old.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Little Brown and Company
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
Well the move is over, and as I live among the piles of boxes awaiting unpacking and finding new homes, I figured now was as good a time as any to post a new blog. A majority of the books aren’t unpacked yet, but in due time they will adorn the shelves again. For those of you familiar with me, my love for the Phillies has been well documented, so I figured let’s get back in the saddle with a Phillies book today.
When you have been in existence for over 130 years and had limited success in that time frame as the Phillies have had, your great moments are few and far between. You have limited happy stories to draw from and a few miserable failures that stick in the fans crawl for a long, long time. If you are familiar with the Phillies you know these stories all to well. The Championships, the Pennants and of course 1964.
Robert Gordon has compiled these familiar highs and lows in his book and presented them to the Phillies fans. He has intertwined interviews with former players, coaches and people associated with the team at the appropriate time. They are thorough interviews that give an added perspective beyond the authors, and enhance the story itself. The facts are well presented for fans of the Phillies to appreciate their inglorious history at most times.
Here is my problem with this book. If you are a dedicated Phillies fan, you already know these stories by heart. You have lived and died by these stories your entire life and they have become part of your Phillies soul. For Phillies fans there are already countless books out there hashing through these anecdotes, so except for the personal interviews, you are not getting too much new information. By far, this is not a bad book. It is well written, accurate and entertaining. Just for my personal taste I was hoping for something new. If you are not familiar with Phillies history and want to learn more about them, this would be a great book for you. If you are familiar with the team and hoping for some new stories or inside dirt, you may be disappointed.
Check it out and see what you think, maybe I am just in too deep with my love for the Phillies, that it makes it difficult for me after a while to go down the same road over and over again.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books