As we sit here today, Opening Day is only five short days away. I find that very hard to believe since I am sitting here watching a foot and a half of snow that came three days ago, melt out the window, but I am sure the baseball scheduling Gods have that all figured out. The Spring edition of Odds and Ends is upon us and while everything we look at today may not be a 2018 new season release, they are still solid books to help the reader wander through the new baseball year.
Ronald T. Waldo always takes on somewhat obscure era’s and subjects for his books. It is a good thing because Waldo always shows the reader an almost forgotten era in baseball and brings prominent names back to the forefront. I like Waldo’s books because his thorough research always shines through in the book and you can rely on the accuracy of the stories he tells the reader. If you have any sort of interest in 1920’s baseball or want to use this book as a history lesson for yourself, than this book is definitely one you should check out. You can get this one from the friendly folks at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Staying in the same era of baseball, what more can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It has won numerous awards since its release last year and quite honestly deserves every one of them. Steinberg has done a phenomenal job bringing the life and career of Urban Shocker to the modern day fan. It gives the reader a glimpse of what baseball was like during that timeframe and makes you realize how even though we are still essentially playing the same game, times have changed dramatically. For those with an interest in players of the past, the New York Yankees and several other aspects this book presents to the reader, it is worth checking out. It offers so many levels of information that you will be glad you took the time to read it. You can get this one from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press.
There have been a few books written by, or about Lou in the past. For my money, this one is the best of the bunch. It is updated through the end of his managerial career and into retirement and really gets you to the personal side of Lou Piniella. It covers his full life and is not really specifically team focused. It goes through everywhere he stopped during his playing and managing days and really doesn’t pull any punches. He is telling it like he sees it at this point. Other books on Lou have been more team or time frame focused, so this one really shows it all. If you have read the other books, there may be some overlap of information on certain teams but for the grand picture of a career this is your best bet. Yu can get this one from the nice folks at Harper Collins Publishers.
If you have a Yankees book, you should always follow it with a Red Sox book. 1967 seems to be a watershed year for the Sox and always seems to be the year everyone references as the highlight of an era. It was their first real taste of success after a long drought but it was unfortunately not sustained. Crehan’s book takes a good look at 1967 and why it is so special to Boston fans and why it was an important year in team history. For those of us not around then or for those not paying attention to them in 1967 it gives a great look at what happened. If you are a hardcore BoSox fan, of course you will want to read this, but some of theses stories may be tried and true classics that you love to hear about. For others, it may be a good learning tool about 1967 and the names that help make this team famous. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books.
Where would the game be without the Sportswriters. They are a vital part of looking at the game and analyzing what transpires on the field. Jim Kaplan previously has written for Sports Illustrated and has decided to share his thoughts on the history of the game and some of his views of players, on field plays and other aspects we may not have thought about. Its a fun read and makes you look at things just a little differently than you had before. You can get this one from the nice folks at Levellers Press.
McFarland has never been a publisher that was one to shy away from overlooked players or long forgotten subjects and this one easily falls into that category. Roy Sievers was a feared hitter during the 50″s but was often overshadowed by the other greats of that decade both on the field and in print. Finally getting his due in book form, readers can now learn about the great career of one of baseballs most overlooked hitters of that decade as well as learn about an overall pretty nice guy. Its important that people like this from baseball history don’t get forgotten, and McFarland has done a nice job of helping preserve his legacy by getting this to market.
Baseball seems to have a singular year every decade where they shoot themselves in the foot and the 60’s were no exception. Widely known for being the year of the pitcher, 1968 was the year the powers that be put their dunce caps on once again. This is a good look at what management was like back in the day and how that has changed as well. It also shows how baseball has been able to survive and rise above its own stupidity at times. You can get both of these from the nice folks at McFarland.
So ready or not the new baseball season is upon us, so no matter who you root for we are all in First Place at least for one day.
Happy Reading and Go Phillies!
I am all about giving respect where respect is due. As always, anniversaries are a great way to show respect. Baseball has never been one to shy away from commemorating something either big or small, or both. 2016 is the 30th anniversary of the last Mets World Series winner and the events marking that this year have been coming at fans both fast and furiously. The book arena has been no exception to these celebrations, and while we have covered several of these in previous posts, I think I have the last two out there this year that I am going to do. It is amazing how much time and money has been spent this year for this one and done World Series winner, but for me, it is time and I am ready to put this subject to bed. So without further ado, here are the final two books.
Originally released in 1995 One Pitch Away takes a unique look at all the post-season teams in 1986. You get perspectives from several key members who played for one of the four teams, which is a nice change, because most of these books about 1986 only cover the World Series teams. You get a real good feel as to what was going through the heads of those involved during this amazing post-season.
I first read this when it was released in 1995. My initial reaction then was the same as it is now. It gives great insight into the games from the players themselves and Sowell’s work comes through strong. The interviews seem well prepared for by both parties and is time well spent reading about the fab-four of the 1986 post-season.
If you are a fan of any of the teams involved check out this book, I don’t think you will be disappointed. You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books. One Pitch Away
The next book brings us to current times with the 2015 Mets. By winning the division last year the Mets re-captured the hearts of the New York faithful in the Big Apple. After a decade and a half or so of the Yankees being the toast of New York, it was nice to see the love spread around town.
Greg Prince who runs his own New York Mets blog, also has written about the Mets several times before. He has an intense love for his team and it shows in his writing. He takes a thorough look at the colorful cast of characters the Mets were able to put together for their improbable run in 2015. If you are a fan of the Mets it is a fun reflection on an improbable year. It is for sure a good read, but will probably be more enjoyable in 10 or 15 years when time has passed and the limelight has faded on this particular team. This is another book that is time well spent reading today, but as it ages will become even more valuable to certain fans. You can get this from the nice folks at Sports Publishing.
Well, the holidays are officially over. The decorations are away and we are all well on our way to breaking our new years resolutions. It is currently 4 degrees outside of my house and I am patiently awaiting spring training. During this time my wife and I wonder where would we like to go on any trips this year and if we are going to make it to any Phillies games. The latter part of that planning, the Phillies games, leads me to wonder if we could plan a couple trips and see some other stadiums as well. Usually I get overruled on the other cities but we at least make it to the Phils. Today’s book is about one man’s journey and his trek to visit all 30 of the MLB stadiums.
I will be honest, a trip like this is my ultimate dream. Checking out each stadium and every team that calls each one home. This will be my retirement plan, just no one can tell my wife yet. So for now, I have to live vicariously through Tobey Shiverick.
Shiverick brings us along his 18 flight, five month, 34,000 mile baseball journey. He walks us through his experience at each stadium and gives us the highs or lows that he feels each has to offer. He gives the reader the general vibe of the stadium and that of the teams fans. I can only attest to Philadelphia, but he did have a pretty good read on Citizens Bank Park after only one game.
For a true baseball fan this would be the ultimate experience. For fans from the same generation as the author, you also get the added bonus of being able to compare the stadiums of yesteryear to the modern palaces of today. From Ebbets Field, to Dodger Stadium, The Polo Grounds to the palace in San Fran and of course, Yankee Stadium vs. that new one they built across the street.
Even fans of my generation would be able to do the some comparison to a lesser degree. We would be able to do Shea Stadium to Citi Field, Veterans Stadium to Citizens Bank Park and Three Rivers to PNC Park. None of those generate heart palpitations in the spectrum of great stadiums, but does help foster some nostalgia nonetheless.
This book may be geared more to the older crowd versus the younger fan, mostly because the older generations would be able to afford this type of journey. The expense has to be enormous between stops in 30 cities, hotel rooms, travels and meals. The average fan would have a hard time being able to pony up the cash to pull this one off. Also the print in this book is a little bigger than a lot of books I come across, so I am assuming they are expecting an older crowd reading the book. Quite honestly, I read so many books that I appreciated the larger print for a change.
Fans should check this out. Even if you are not able to do a 30 park tour, this book would be able to help you pick even one new park to check out. It has endless value for fans in getting a feel for those parks they have never been to.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books
It is amazing the skills baseball has beyond the diamond. It has the ability to transcend generations, bring families and friends together in any given space or time and it has the ability to bring different cultures together. By coming together they speak their one common language……Baseball.
Brent Loehr has written a pretty unique book here. It takes a look at his travels to countries all around the world spreading international good will. That good will is wrapped in a neat little package called baseball. It is a fun look at citizens in places as far away as Africa, who live an entirely different lifestyle than we are accustom to and how they react to baseball coming into their lives.
It shows the power that can be generated from something as simple as a baseball. It allows different cultures to come together and for short times be one. It allows for all difference to be put aside and partake in something that creates immense joy and passion for those involved. This book is not what you would expect from a baseball book. It takes the game of baseball out of the context we are all accustomed to and shows what it is truly capable in other parts of the world.
All fans should check this one out. It definitely takes us out of the world we are all accustomed to and shows the readers the ability of baseball to bring the world together as one.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books
I tried to figure out the other day when I became a baseball fan. Was it when I went to my first baseball game with my Dad at age 5, it was the 1977 National League Championship Series between the Phillies and the Dodgers? Was it when I bought my first pack of baseball cards in 1978? Was it the Sunday afternoons watching games on TV with my Dad when I was little? I honestly don’t know for sure but it is probably a combination of all of those things. So if we use that general point in time I have been on this baseball journey for the better part of forty years, and learn something new about the history of the game almost every single day. Which, leads to my next question, how did I start my learning process? Honestly I have no idea, but I just checked out a book that gives a fun overview when starting your journey down the road of baseball history.
This book by Matt Nadel is a fun book that takes readers through the basic history of the game. Bringing into play some of the great names to have played the game, such as Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as well as dropping in some of the finer points of the game. It helps showcase important facts such as the winningest pitchers of all time, famous quotes, amazing games and the history of uniforms. It really covers a little bit of everything for the novice fan and gives a nice overview of the finer points in the history of the game.
The even more amazing part is Matt Nadel is your average red blooded American kid, who……oh by the way has written his book at age 16. Matt is the youngest baseball history pro blogger out there right now and honestly did a pretty awesome job at this book. All this at an age that when I was 16, all I was worried about getting my driver’s license and chasing girls. He has a blog on mlb.com so look around and you should be able to find it. Hat’s off to Matt as he has done a nice job on this book.
If you are a novice fan this book will help a great deal in helping you acclimate to the history of the game. Everyone needs a starting point on their journey through the game and this is a great starting point. If you fancy yourself a highly knowledgeable baseball historian, unfortunately you may not get anything new out of this. This book has earned its place among the baseball book world and brings some great value to the table for new fans. Newbies should check this out, it is presented in a format that is fun and easy to comprehend. Plus all of Matt’s book proceeds go to various baseball related charitable non-profit foundations.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books
Since I have been submerged in my book sorting project lately I have not had much time to post anything on here. I figured now would be a good time to show a little something for everyone. I am learning first-hand just how many variances are out there in the baseball book world. If you are even a casual fan that enjoys reading, you would be hard pressed not to find something that would appeal to you. Sometimes all you have to do is dig around and find your niche. These books tonight may not all be new but they were new to me at one time, if you will. So I felt they would be worthwhile to share, but fair warning this is a fairly long post. So without further delay…………
Willie Keeler of “hit them where they ain’t” fame was one of the great players of his time. There were many superstars of that era, but Keeler was always able to hold his own during his career. Not as much of a household name in this day and age, but he easily was still good enough to need his own book. Lyle Spatz has done a nice job of keeping this one interesting for the reader as well making sure you don’t get bogged down in details. It is a very comprehensive book without being burdened by statistics and in the end feeling cumbersome. You get a nice feel for a player from a long ago ended era. Willie Keeler from Roman & Littlefield Publishers
Terry Pluto has a love affair with the Cleveland Indians and it is always very evident in his writing. That is not a bad thing, but it is good to know beforehand that you will always be getting the “Homers” view of the team. Pluto and Hamilton walk you through the first few years of Jacobs Field in a time when the town was desperate for a winner. It really is a good feeling book that Indians fans will be glad they get to revisit. Glory Days in Tribe Town-Gray & Co. Publishers
I think with the advent of better government relations with Cuba, this will be the first of many baseball books on this topic. It takes an in-depth look at baseball in a time before Cuba was off-limits. How Cubans, Americans and other nationalities all came together and played within the league. It almost is what the current model of MLB is today. Numerous nations becoming one on the fields for a great pennant race. It is a very good look of an era long ago and if you have any interest in Cuban baseball history, this is the book for you. Havana Hardball-University Press of Florida
A true baseball pioneer in every sense of the word. Alexander Joy Cartwright is considered the father of the modern game and honestly someone I did not know all that much about. This book takes a serious look at his life and works and puts it in a modern-day perspective. The reader can really relate to the subject and gets a feel for what he envisioned. With all the controversy that surrounds the invention of baseball, this one will help clarify some things for some fans. Live All You Can-Columbia University Press
More entertainment than baseball, but we will include it here. It is a behind the scenes look at a baseball movie that became a cult classic. Maybe for some folks it’s the best of both worlds, baseball and movies? If you really like baseball movies this would be a great sneak peek for you to see what really went on during filming. The Making of Major League-Gray & Co. Publishers
I will be the first to admit that I am never usually drawn to fiction. But I did find this one interesting because of this seasons circumstances with the Chicago Cubs. They are the topic of this book and its all about the Cubs and Red Sox making it to the World Series. It’s a fun book that shows what great lengths die-hard fans are willing to go to get a winner. This book hits on a lot of human nature points and is pretty accurate in the human psyche analysis. The Cubs almost were there this year, but this book might help some of those fans make it through to he promise of next year. Killing the Curse-Publisher Page
Another team with high-hopes this postseason. This is the type of book that helps Bucs fans make it through the long, hard Pennsylvania winter as well. It walks the reader through team history and re-lives the highs and lows of seasons past. You may ask why do we want to remember the lows? Because that is what makes it so great when your team finally accomplishes something. Both players and fans have earned that win and get to celebrate it together. Pirates fans should definitely check this one out. Pirates Reader-University of Pittsburgh Press
This one has a ton of information for the reader in how the government treats sports leagues. At time it can be almost overwhelming. It does a nice job of giving the background and how its effect on future dealings with the leagues, but it is still a lot to comprehend. This is by far not light reading and at times seems text bookish, but if you can find the will to persevere and get through it, you will be much the wiser in doing so. Not a book for the faint of heart but still worth the effort. The Big Leagues Go to Washington-University of Illinois Press
This is a book of short stories that shows the reader how baseball really does take hold of us. It almost is like it becomes part of our souls and infiltrates multiple parts of our lives. Whether you love just one player, one team or the entire game itself, you will read this and be able to relate to almost all of these stories. This one has something for all fans regardless of age and makes you realize just how important the game really is to us. Dreaming .400-Summer Game Books
Another player autobiography by a Cleveland Indians favorite. Vizquel comes off as a likeable guy in this one. Nothing of great earth shattering substance included here, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. If you are not real familiar with Omar Vizquel this gives some nice insight to him beyond just a player. Cleveland Indians fans who were desperate for a winner before Omar, will surely enjoy this one.
Its obvious the Yankees have the greatest history in baseball. This book takes the opportunity to show fans of other teams one of those aspects that is so great. Freedman takes a look at some of the most iconic home runs in Yankee history and helps fans relive those great moments. From Babe Ruth to Reggie Jackson and Bucky Dent, this one covers them all.
I wasn’t sure where to file this one. The author takes a look at the accepted truths within the history of the game and attempts to refute them. It basically makes you question everything we as a society accept about our game. It makes you wonder how much of it is true and will appeal to the conspiracy theorists in the bunch. You make the call on this one because I am still not sure.
This is another one that is hard to explain. The author shows the reader how sports effect every day life at all levels. It is one mans opinion of these things and how they effect his own life. He tells a bunch of his own stories in this book some of which he is the main character and some where he is not. It was a little hard for me to grab hold of this one and not put it down, it definitely wasn’t what I expected, but you be the judge on it.I wore Babe Ruth’s Hat-University of Illinois Press
Baseball history is filled with thousands of personalities, and with those people come tons of stories. Some are unique, some are interesting, while others are not and then there are some that are so bizarre and unbelievable you wonder how they can even be true. I always find enjoyable the books that can compile the interesting stories of baseballs bygone players. Today’s book is taking a look at some of the odd-ball stories that make travelling through baseball history a unique journey.
Michael Lynch has taken readers on a journey through the not so well-known baseball roster. He takes a look at some obscure players that have had interesting facts surrounding their careers or lives. These facts may be some on the field experience that made them stand out or it may be some bizarre circumstances that ended their life that still shrouds them in mystery to this day. Perhaps you are more interested in players who flat-out wasted their talent or one-hit wonders, because this book packs a little punch for everybody.
This book is a very quick read and does not dwell on any one person for very long. It gives you the facts surrounding their unique circumstance and moves to the next person. It does leave the reader wondering why some things happen the way they did, but unfortunately you may never get the answer to some of those questions.
The author has done a great job of creating a fun and enjoyable book. It does go by fast as your reading but does come across as light and fun, and for me created a lot of questions. It made me wonder what other factors played into the end results of each player. It also introduced me to some new names I was not familiar with before reading this, so it was educational as well.
Baseball fans should check this out, you will find it fun and a nice change of pace from the 800 plus page player biographies I have been running across lately.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books