Sometimes you come across a book that I would consider a “comfort book”. These are the types of books that you have heard some version of the included anecdotes 100 times before, but will still read and enjoy them again. It’s almost like re-living the same stories with your college buddies over and over again of all the stupid crap you did in your youth. For me, todays book falls into that category.
If These Walls Could Talk-Philadelphia Phillies
By:Larry Shenk- TriumphBooks 2014
Larry Shenk is a true Phillies lifer. He has been with the team starting in 1964 and held various roles through his current day position of Alumni Relations Manager. Larry has seen it all in his 50 years with the team. The championships, collapses, Hall of Famers, near misses and all the barren years in between. That is what makes the man affectionately known in Philadelphia as “The Barron”, the perfect person to tell these stories.
This is by far not a Phillies fluff piece. You get insider Phillies stories that add color and perspective to the product you are getting on the field, which in 2014 is not a very good product. Stories from the player’s points of view about their own careers and team events. He also touches on one area I thought was very interesting being a Phillies fan. The importance of scouting and player development within your organization. That is something that has lacked for this team many years in its existence, and finally someone from within the organization sees its importance.
Lastly, included in this book is the stories that true Phillies fans have heard hundreds of times throughout the years. Stories about the players, team, stadiums, managers and everything we love that makes the Phillies so great to its fan base. If you are a true Phillies fan, I really do not think you will be disappointed with the Baron’s newest book.
I am not sure what kind of mass appeal this book would have to people outside the Philadelphia area or to non-Phillies fans. These types of books seem to be a somewhat targeted market. Again, to me, being a Phillies fan, they are almost as good as comfort food when you are feeling down. They have a familiarity that almost envelopes the reader.
But you are in luck if you are a fan of another team. Triumph Books has the same type of book for almost every team. So you will be able to read the stories that pertain to your team and players. This way you can have the same enjoyable time reading about your favorite team. You can check http://www.triumphbooks.com to see if your favorite team has been published yet.
Finally, it is explained. We all do it and probably don’t even realize it. I know I didn’t because I never really thought about it. Baseball is as American as apple pie, fireworks on the Fourth of July or loving your Momma! It has intertwined itself into our daily lives. It’s almost astounding when you see it. That brings us to tonight’s book…
How Baseball Explains America
By Hal Bodley 2014- Triumph Books
Baseball has infiltrated our national history, our families, our language, our government and even our daily lives. We can look at our national history over the last century and almost always come up with a baseball event that happened in each decade that was remarkable. We can look at our family life and I know for myself, I can equate fond memories with my Dad to baseball games and championships. How many times through the course of any given day do we use a baseball term to something we did in the normal course of our day. Failure equals striking out. Success becomes a home run. When you are a teenager, you even equate baseball terms to dating…..single, double, home run etc. How many opening days or first game pitches were performed by sitting Presidents? Our Government also has a deep history of Legislation and laws (anti-trust) designed for Baseball. Finally, how many times have we readjusted our schedules and turned our lives upside down to get to a certain game, watch a game on TV or attend a championship parade. I think as fans, we have all done at least one of these things, at least once in our lives.
Hal Bodley has done a great job with this book. He has examined each of the above areas of society and done a great job explaining how they fit in our lives. Rarely do I read a book that makes me think about how baseball affects my life. This book does just that by making you look at yourself and figuring out if you do some of these things.
In this new “Moneyball” era, the game has transcended to numbers. This book makes you take a step back and see the natural beauty that is the game of baseball and what it really means to all of us as a society. Hal Bodley’s knowledge of the game transcends through this book as it has in other books of his that I have read. It also shows his honest and unbiased love of the game. I think all fans can relate to that aspect of the book. We all love the game of baseball for different reasons, be it a team, a player, or just the game as a whole. A book like this does show every fan that they are not alone in their feelings for the game, regardless of the depth of their feelings.
I recommend this book to every baseball fan. It is something that is part of every one of our lives. It also is part of all our personalities as well, even the casual fans. Hal Bodley hit a “home-run” on this one.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books. www.triumphbooks.com
Sometimes in Baseball with today’s insane salaries and elite status you get the feeling some players just don’t get it. They believe they are special and deserving of special treatment and other accolades just because they can hit and throw a ball better than the average person. Then, other times you come across a player that has worked extremely hard to overcome many obstacles, both public and private, to reach his pinnacle of success. In that second instance, we as fans tend to gravitate towards that person and accept him as our own, which I believe is just human nature. We appreciate the struggles and the perseverance that player has shown and to some degree adopt that persons determination as a part of our own struggles.
This brings us to our book today on the Blog.
Shane Victorino-The Flyin Hawaiian
By Alan Maimon (Triumph Books Ver1-2011, Ver2-2014)
I lived through Shane Victorino’s entire tenure in Philadelphia, as I lived there during that period and as I said, I’m a die hard Phillies fan. This book is a very accurate account of what the fans felt for Victorino and he for them as well. There are two editions of this book out there right now. Edition 1- Chronicles Victorino’s life and career through the end of the 2010 season. That one has the Phillies cover. Edition 2 – includes all the information as in Edition 1 but also includes 2011 through 2013 and the Boston portion of his career.
Alan Maimon does a great job of portraying the human side of the player. Sometime in a book like this, that gets lost and you start getting regurgitation of stats and field achievements. You get the childhood background which explains his struggles with ADHD and coming to grips with that. It also talks about how he overcame that obstacle and how it benefitted his career. He covers the struggles in the minor leagues, failures with other MLB teams and almost giving up before finally getting a real chance with a team. While not harboring on the negative, it does show the character of the man who eventually becomes the champion he is in more than one city.
Shane Victorino has been more than just a player in the cities he has played. You also see the side of him where he gives back to the cities he has played in with his foundation. That is a very important aspect for the disadvantaged in the area and again shows the human side of the player. To me, that shows that he understands how lucky he realizes he is to be gifted and takes the time to spread his wealth….and not necessarily in a monetary way. So in the end as said above Shane Victorino gets it!
If you are a Phillies fan, Red Sox fan or just a fan of the human spirit,this would be a good read for you. In the end of this book you find more than just the worth of the player…..you find the worth of the man.
Give the friendly folks at Triumph Books a call if this is a book that might interest you