Tagged: Veterans Stadium

Macho Row-The 93 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code


This weekend will be a momentous occasion for my fairly new little family.  We have decided to take my Daughter Aubrey to her first Phillies game this Sunday.  Now for some families this might not be a big deal, I mean come on she will never have any recollection of this game except for any pictures that get taken, but for us this is a big deal.  It is the start of hopefully a life long love of going to the ballpark, smelling the grass and taking in the sights and sounds.  It is also a milestone in our return to the Philly area because this is one of the things we missed doing the most.  So I decided it was a good time to check out today’s book, because no better time than now to make it a full Philadelphia Phillies weekend.

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By :William Kashatus-2017

William Kashatus is no stranger to authoring books about the Phillies.  His previous book showcases a great era in team history and has been featured on here previously.  I thought this books’ timing was a little odd since it is the 24th anniversary of the team……..not the 25th and there was no real notable events surrounding team members other than Curt Shilling still can’t shut his mouth.  But I can once again Kashatus has thrown this avid Phillies fan another walk back through time to revisit the glory days of a team whose successes at that time were few and far between.

This team was a bunch of freaks and cast offs from other teams to put it nicely.  Assembled as an attempt to right a sinking ship in Philadelphia, they endeared themselves through rugged play and in the end easily became one of the most beloved teams in the history of the Phillies.  This book takes a look at these personalities and shows what they were like both on and off the field.  Pulling no punches, it brings up the question of who was using PED’s on that team, but this book does show once again that unfortunately we as fans may never get a definitive answer on the subject.

The book also highlights some of the more monumental events of that magical season and the effect it had on the city of brotherly love.  As a first hand witness of this team and its effect on the city, the author does a great job of portraying the team, its players, its attitude and general overall demeanor.  They were a bunch of guys that everyone in the city wanted to hang out at the bar with.  For no other team would fans sit through a twi-night double header that stated at 5:30 p.m., endured multiple rain delays and ended at 4:41 a.m..  It is still my most favorite game that I have ever been to, one reason being once the bars closed at 2 a.m. everyone was coming to the ballpark.  There were more people there at 4 a.m. then when the game started.  All because everyone loved these guys.

If you were not able to witness the team first hand, this book gives fans a great feel of what they were all about.  Almost 25 years later Macho Row holds a special place in fan’s hearts.  They may be a little older now, but it hasn’t slowed any of them down, they still get in fist fights amongst themselves when the make appearances in the area and quite honestly the true Phillies fans don’t expect any less from most of them.

All baseball fans should check this out because it is a vivid contrast against the super teams of today’s baseball.  The were a bottom feeding, scrapper team that made it to the top on strictly grit and determination.  Make the effort to check this one out from the University of Nebraska Press, it is definitely worth the time.

Happy Reading

Gregg

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Another Dumpster Fire Added to the Mix


It has been a very interesting week in American history.  First the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after a 108 year drought, breaking the curse of the Billy Goat.  Secondly, the Presidential election is finally over, and no matter whose side you were on, it would be hard to deny that it had its plot twists, keeping it interesting to say the least.  So now as we look into the cold, hard baseball-less Winter, we readers need to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained until Pitchers and Catchers report in February.  I figured the best way to start out the off season was to start with an undeniable dumpster fire of a book that will help keep all of us warm on those cold nights.

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By:Lenny Dykstra-2016

Growing up, Lenny Dykstra for me was the epitome of cool.  He played for my hometown Phillies and was the spark plug that ignited the team on a daily basis and his hard nosed play would excite any fan.  As the years passed rumors came to light about Lenny’s behavior off the field, but he was still our guy.  Fast forward 20 years and you see what a train wreck Dykstra made of his life and those around him that he touched.

House of Nails is Dykstra’s attempt at setting the record straight with the world.  Talking candidly about his steroid use, his financial investments and other business dealings along with his time in prison.  To some degree it is an apology to some of the people he wronged, but when you read it closer it also seems to feel like Dykstra is still trying to sell the world his program on investing strategies.

The book covers in depth his baseball career and why he thinks he was so awesome on and off the field during his day.  He also tells readers how he was wronged  by those around him and how the course of events that left him penniless and in prison, were none of his doing.  From my perspective I just don’t buy his story.  He ran a media marketing circus around this book and just came off as a guy desperate for attention once again.  He wanted the reader to buy that he changed his ways in life and was on the road to being a decent guy ready to embrace life.  From some of the picture he posted on line he may to some degree be changing, but when you read stories about him screwing respected co-author Peter Golenbock out of his work on this book, you start to see it’s the same  old Lenny.

If you want to read a story about a beat up old player trying to relive some of his old glory and tell you why he is the best, then this is the book for you.  You get some inside stories about his career, but honestly how much of it is even the truth.  Any book that Lenny himself is involved in has to contain some level of B.S..  It just seems to be how Lenny rolls and it is a shame Golenbock got involved with him in the first place.

Check it out if you dare, just don’t stand too close to the flames.  It has some value in the baseball book world but will never be considered great literature, even with Peter Golenbock’s touches.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Harper Collins

House of Nails

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Mike Schmidt-Philadelphia’s HOF Third Baseman


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.

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By:William Kashatus-2000

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

Mike Schmidt

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

A Book That Most of Us Have Been Waiting For


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.

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By: Mitchell Nathanson-2016

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

God Almighty Hisself

Happy Reading

Gregg

The Fall of the 1977 Phillies


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.

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By: Mitchell Nathanson-2008

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

The Fall of the 1977 Phillies

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

Headed Home – A MLB All-Star’s Search for the Truth


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.

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Glenn Wilson and Darrell Halk-2012 Lucid Books

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

http://www.lucidbooks.net/book-store/headed-home/

Happy Reading

Gregg

Almost A Dynasty – The Rise and Fall of the 1980 Phillies


As a fan of a particular franchise I have to face it, for most of their history, their records have been underwhelming.  Also as a fan of my chosen team, I have come to expect mediocrity, and anything better than that I view as a gift.  If you haven’t figured it out, I am of course talking about my beloved Philadelphia Phillies.  They have had some incredible talent grace the field throughout their long and inglorious history.  Hall of Famers and Superstars line their history books, but they were never able to put together any long run of success.  Until 1980, when the finally won their first World Series after 97 years, they had nothing to show for their efforts.  Today’s book takes a look at that World Series team and its success, and what could have truly been.

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By: William C. Kashatus – 2008 University of Pennsylvania Press

The 1980 Philadelphia Phillies is a probably the most beloved team in all of Philadelphia sports history.  Despite their best efforts off the field to self destruct, the 1980 team was a success on the field and finally won a World Series.  After a run of Division Championships, and a string of losses in the NLCS, the Phillies finally figured it all out in 1980.

William Kashatus takes on a Phillies journey that shows the reader how it all came together.  He walks the reader through the years leading up to the Phillies move into the new and modern for the time Veterans Stadium.  You get all the details of what the team had waiting in the wings in the farm system, and see the progression that each of the players made in working their ways to Philadelphia.  It gives you a very strong background of what the Phillies had up and coming, and who they had planed to rely on as the building blocks of their Dynasty.

Starting in 1976, through 1978 the Phillies won the Eastern Division in the National League.  The only problem was they could never get past the NLCS each year to make it to the World Series.  With some new faces in the dugout, and a less than personable manager, you get to see how the Phils finally brought it together and got over that hump.  I really like that fact that this book did not sugar coat the teams rise to success.  The author gives you all the information, warts and all, that helped form the team and its management structure.

Another interesting fact about this book is the way it looks at the teams decline and ultimate demise after 1983.  After they won the World Series the team was sold to its new ownership group, who which yet again are going through a rebuilding phase.  It shows the initial ineptness of the new ownership group and the mistakes made along the way to build what the thought was a quality team.  Both player transactions and off field personnel moves are addressed and give an honest perspective of what a majority of the world would consider bone head moves.  If you consider the 1983 Phillies nicknamed the Wheez Kids, for all their over the hill players a fluke, you can see it was all down hill after 1980.

The ironic part of this book to me is its publishing date.  It was published in 2008 just as the new age Phillies embarked on their first World Series Championship year since 1980.  This era has been coined as the most successful in Phillies history.  With winning five Division Championships, two Pennants and a World Series Championship, people think this was the greatest time ever to be a Phillies fan.  The parallel between the two eras is remarkable and something I never noticed before.  The first era team had the same number of Divisions, Pennants and World Series wins during its run, as the newer era team.  It’s interesting how that happened, but not so surprising that the management group headed by Bill Giles, screwed up both eras.  Maybe Phillies fans are never meant to be part of a Dynasty after all.

Fans should really enjoy this book.  It has great detail and does not sugar coat the truth.  For Phillies fans it may be more salt in the wounds, but still an enjoyable read to take a look back at some success.

You can get this book at the nice folks at The University of Pennsylvania Press

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/

Happy Reading

Gregg