Have you ever found a book that on the surface you found intriguing, but was not sure it merited what the title was portraying? A book that was trying to catch a certain market or readership base, but you knew deep down inside that it probably wouldn’t be able to meet any of the readers expectations within that market. These were the dilemmas I was facing when I picked up today’s book. I wasn’t expecting too much from this one, but I am very happy to say that this book proved me wrong on every front.
I will admit when I read the author bio on the inside cover I became a little nervous. What could someone who gave up baseball and became an anthropologist give to the baseball reader? I realize he had done other baseball books in the past, but none have ever crossed my desk, so honestly I was unfamiliar as to what tales George Gmelch would be able to produce.
What I found in this book is a great journey of a young man through the minor leagues during the tumultuous 1960’s. It is a time in our country where the consciousness was changing in society and baseball was slowly following suit. It really was both an unsettled and amazing time to be alive in our country.
In this book the author really shows you life from both sides of the fence. From a baseball player who’s ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues. One who is supposed live, eat and breath baseball. The other perspective is showing his normal teenager, early 20’s side. One who is aware of the changes of the world around him and the affects they are having on both him and his fellow man. You see a very personal side of the author and see how interactions with teammates, friends and the fairer sex all help shape and change him during a very influential time in his life.
Unfortunately in the end, George Gmelch never made it to the big time in baseball. After various stops in the minors his career fizzled out and he was left, like many players to figure out what was next. Luckily for George he landed on his feet and had a great career as a Professor of Anthropology. You can see some events in this book that helped guide him towards that career path.
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but truth be told, I couldn’t put it down. It kept the reader entertained through the entire book and felt like you were on this journey as the authors friend as opposed to a reader forty some years later.
You don’t need to have any particular team affiliation to enjoy this book. It really is a good book about a life journey that has a baseball flair to it. As baseball fans that is what will draw us to this book, but the entire story makes us stick around to the end.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
Reading baseball books can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get the inside story of what really happened. On the other, you see that our baseball heroes are human too. For me growing up in Philly, Glenn Wilson was one of those heroes. I spent many summer days at the Vet watching Glenbo roaming the outfield. He also ties into one special childhood memory I have. It was early in the 1985 season and it was Tastykake team player card giveaway day. I remember sitting in the outfield stands watching Glenn play with grace. It took some convincing to get my Dad to go to the game, and my Grandfather came along as well. It was the only time the three of us ever went to a game together, and for no particular reason Glenn Wilson always stuck out in my mind from that day. For that reason alone, I was pretty exited to jump into this book.
When you are a kid you think your favorite players have to be good guys. How else could they be? I mean really you think they are awesome so why wouldn’t they be. But sometimes reality does not quite live up to expectations and that happens here. Glenn Wilson flat-out admits during his baseball career that he was somewhat of a jerk. He admits he might not have appreciated the talent he was given and felt he was owed something. That right off the bat has to be hard for anyone to admit, I know I couldn’t do it. So now that my childhood reality was shattered I jumped further into this book and found it to be very interesting.
Glenbo reviews his years of growing up and making it to the majors. He talks about some of his family and how they helped him along the way. He also talks about his time with the Tigers and his disappointment in being traded to the Phillies. Struggles in Philadelphia are talked about along with some other issues in other cities along his journey. He takes the time to be honest with the reader and not try to sugar coat any of his behavior. If he was a jerk about something he freely admitted it.
His struggles after leaving baseball was something I never heard about before, and to Glenn’s credit he is very honest with himself and the reader. As a reader I appreciate it when the player is honest with me. It adds loads of credibility to his story instead of just writing a book for a money grab. The bottom line of this story is that after baseball and some personal issues Glenn was a broken man. What happens next is something that I found most interesting.
Glenn turns to his faith and trusted in God and that faith helped him transform his life. I will not go in to great details here of the way God has helped Glenn transform his life and become a better person. You will have to read the book to get that story, but quite honestly it is a very remarkable story. I sometimes shy away from books that have a religious aspect to them, because they don’t always come off as genuine and that to me is the ultimate disrespect. That being said, this story is absolutely amazing and the effect it has had on Glenn Wilson’s life has been remarkable.
If you are a fan of Glenn Wilson’s this is a really good book and worth reading. He is brutally honest about his life and himself, on and off the field. This book is also a good read if you are having troubles in your own life, because it shows the strength you are able to find by turning to God.
Now if only someday I can get my Tastykake photo signed to complete my childhood dream!
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lucid Books
I have always had trouble with coffee table books. Sometimes it was the size of the book that made it cumbersome, other times it was the content. Basically the author tried to cram too much information into one book. So that has left me on the fence where these books were concerned. I am seeing as I continue with this blog that as my horizons expand on baseball subjects, so does my taste for the coffee table books. I have found another one that I liked that was worthy of being shared.
This book has some incredible pictures of some iconic ballparks. That is the short version of why I am fond of this book. It takes a look of some of the most famous and historical stadiums in baseball history. Places such as Ebbets Field, Old Yankee Stadium, The Polo Grounds, Fenway, Wrigley and Tiger Stadium. The book gives the reader a look at some seldom seen photos of both the inside and outside of each ballpark. It talks about some of the historical events that happened in each palace, as well as some of the characters that called it home. Each ballpark is given its hard-earned due. It respects the rich history at each place and shares with the reader the great qualities that each place has or had.
Another cool aspect of the book is that it almost a pop-up book for adults if you will. For each ballpark, it gives you little pieces of memorabilia for each place. It could be postcards, ticket stubs or reproductions of programs from historical games. Each stadium has its own pocket these little treasures are contained in so they don’t get lost. It’s a neat little feature that you don’t normally find in these books. I was surprised by this one and thought it would just be another stadium book, but it earned its space in the bookcase.
I realize coffee table books sometimes are not worth the space that they take up in your bookcase, but this one is different. Even though it is over-sized, I don’t think you will be disappointed by giving this one a chance. It will add a special something that you don’t usually find in these type of books.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Thunder Bay Press