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.
I find it fascinating that within the history of baseball there are still forgotten Superstars. We have left no stone unturned in the documentation of the game, yet there are still players that do not get the respect or recognition they deserve. Napoleon Lajoie is one of those players that falls into this group. Yes he has gotten his plaque in Cooperstown and no one can take away his monster career numbers, but to me he always seems like an afterthought. Perhaps timing comes into play here, being a part of the same generation as some of the games premier immortals, forcing him out of the spotlight. Today’s book acknowledges his undeserved existence living in the shadows of the game’s bigger stars.
In all honesty, I know of Napoleon Lajoie and his great contributions to the game, but I am not very well read on him. I thought that was somewhat odd for a Hall of Famer, but after a little research I now know that there are not that many Lajoie bios’s on the market. So I was hoping with this book to learn a little bit more in depth about both the man and the player. I got some of what I wanted, but not all of it.
This book is not a beginning to end Napoleon Lajoie biography as it is billed. It is a series of anecdotes, poems, photos and other assorted bits that give the reader a very good feel for what baseball was like during this period. Now it also dedicated a good portion of the book to Napoleon Lajoie and his storied career as one would expect. How he was loved by his fans and how he lived his years after baseball. The final chapter of this book shares a conversation between Ty Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie on a warm Florida afternoon a few years before their respective deaths, which I found very interesting. It gave a brief glimpse of the immense pride of these two greats of the game.
The down side of this book for me was that this book was not a full Lajoie biography. It was an opportunity missed for new generations to learn in depth about an oft forgotten Hall of Fame career. My other pet peeve with this book was misspelled words and overall poor editing. Just a pet peeve that arises from time to time for me as an avid reader.
So in the end something is better than nothing at all. It didn’t give me enough of the Lajoie information that I was hoping for, but fans of this period should still enjoy it. Hopefully Lajoie is not one of those early superstars of the game who eventually fades into oblivion, as generations go by.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Stillwater River Publications
365 days is a long time to do anything in this world full of attention deficit disorder. There are so many things to occupy our time electronically and otherwise, that it is hard to dedicate large amounts of time to any one thing. When I started my blog I wasn’t sure how long it would last. I didn’t know if I would get any positive responses, or any responses at all for that matter. So I really wasn’t sure how long I would stick with it before someone told me my blog sucked. Well I am proud to say that today marks one year of Gregg’s Baseball Bookcase. I still am not really sure what I am doing, so it is safe to say I am flying by the seat of my pants here. Through the kindness of publishers, authors, other bloggers, some baseball fans and some editing help from my cat Phillie, I have been able to pull it off.
Over the past year 8,500 people have stopped by to check out my writing and for that I say a heartfelt thank you, to each and every one of you. I figured the first year if 500 people stopped by and checked it out I would be lucky, so for me I consider this a windfall. Many publishers, who are too numerous to mention, have been extremely kind in sending out some review copies for me to check out. I got a much larger response from them than I ever expected, so if I still owe you a book review, please be patient it is on my list to do. Authors also have been more than kind, by supplying books and information to help me get their reviews finished as well. I hope I did their books justice and was fair with their reviews. Other folks in the blogging universe have been helpful with information and sharing their experiences with me. We baseball book bloggers are to some degree family and it is an honor to be part of that family.
Finally to my wife Brina, I have annoyed you immensely with the insane amounts of reading I do, packages of books always showing up and then blogging about those same books, if you feel ignored my apologies. At least the mail has slowed down some, and you know where I am at every night, right on the couch next to you buried in a book. There are worse things I could be spending our money on honey :).
I never really figured out the true purpose of my blog. When I started it, I figured it was so when I read I may retain more of what I was reading about, and be able to put it into print. One year later, I am still reading the same way, so I am still not exactly sure. One thing I hope happens is that it makes someone want to open a book and start reading. Preferably baseball books, but if not any book will be fine. Reading books is a dying art with all the e-books and the other ways to read, so hopefully someone decides they need a real book because of something they may have read on here. If not so be it, but I hope people find something on here they like in my work. It has been a labor of love through this first year, and some days are harder than others to read, but in the end it has been worth it.
Here is to another year, hopefully some regulars will keep coming back and some new ones will stop by and visit. Again, I thank each and every one of you who have stopped by and participated in one way or another, the amount of visitors has surprised me more than you realize. I promise to do my best when writing these blogs, even though the end result may not always reflect it. Remember I am just one fans opinion about these books. In the end, my opinion does not matter any more than any other persons. I wish you all Happy Reading for this year, and wish my bookcase a Happy Birthday……..here’s to many more.
Lets face it, in its glorious past Major League Baseball has never been on the cutting edge. For certain things they may have been ahead of the curve but for most things, not so much. On this very day in 2015, we as fans all know about the Japanese league of baseball, as many of our players leave here to play over seas. Also many of their stars have done the same and crossed the ocean to pursue a career in the states. Today’s book takes a look at the very first player who was chosen to bridge the gap between the two countries and leagues and the results that followed.
Robert Fitts has undertaken a great task with this book. Not only do you have to make sure your details are accurate and spot on but he also has the cultural gap to overcome. Masahiro Murakami was the first Japanese player hand-picked to be sent to the United States to the San Francisco Giants. He originally came as a group of three players but was the only one of the three to have any sort of success on the bigger stage.
Fitts takes you through the upbringing of Murakami and the strict cultural rules he was raised by. You also get a glimpse of the way that Japanese leagues operate and personal standards that the players must maintain. The differences are staggering in both training and requirements to be on a professional team in that country. It shows what a large cultural difference that exist in both leagues and society’s.
You see Mashi’s rise through spring training camps and the minor leagues to reach the big stage in San Francisco. Success on the field was not enough to overcome Mashi’s sense of duty to his family and dedication to his league and country, which eventually were his reason’s for going back and playing in Japan. One of the most interesting things I found in this book was the business dealings and player contracts that effected Mashi’s career. I think personally in the end nobody was sure who truly owned his contract. Which again points out more of the differences between the two baseball operations.
This book also shows the reader the broader picture of how it was helping to mend relations of two bitter enemies in World War II. It showed how baseball can play a positive role in society’s problems. This event was monumental in bringing the two nations back to the table with each other and allowing a better relationship to move forward. It is a fine example of international diplomacy fostered by a kids game.
This may be a little late but the author Rob Fitts and Mashi are currently on a book signing tour in the United States, so you may want to check his website to see if they are near you. Meeting Masahiro Murakami is more than likely a once in a lifetime event for most fans. http://www.robfitts.com
You can also get this book from the nice folks at University of Nebraska Press