Life can be cruel and that’s a fact. It can offer us so much opportunity and promise and in one blink of an eye it can all be gone. We see it time and time again in baseball, but a lot of the time it is due to injury. When it is due to the loss of life, baseball as a game becomes unimportant and we learn how much we actually care about the people who play the game on a whole different level. Lyman Bostock is one case where we were left to ask what if. A career cut short due to his untimely murder, which was full of promise and unlimited potential. For me, Bostock’s story was always one that left me wondering about the details surrounding his untimely demise, but now we have a book to help us all fill in the blanks.
When you stop and take a look at Lyman Bostock’s career numbers, one has to admit this guy was the real deal. He was always in contention for batting titles, was always improving his game and based on the small career sampling size, if he had kept up that pace would easily have been a Hall of Famer. But we all know how his career was cut short and left us with that void in Lyman’s story. Today’s book looks at his life and career and shows the reader the story of the man and promise wasted.
Powell’s book takes a look at Bostock’s meager upbringing in California and how he worked his way up through the ranks of High School and College baseball, through the minor leagues and eventually to the Major Leagues. It shows a story of perseverance and overcoming life’s obstacles. It also shares the story of how Lyman Bostock’s father who in his own right was a Negro League star, was not much of an influence in his childhood or his rise to stardom.
The book looks at his first stop in the majors with Minnesota with the Twins and the bond he created with teammates and the lessons he learned from teammate Rod Carew on how to become a better hitter. It also shows the negative side of the relationship with Twins management that came to head with Lyman leaving town. It is a period of great growth for Bostock as a player and it showed how he was always looking for a way to improve his game by listening to teammates and heading their advice. You learn about Bostocks love of his family during this period and how whenever he had the chance he would seize the opportunity to spend time with them. It was this love of family that played into his untimely demise.
After signing with the Angels and not living up to the expectations, you learn what kind of fabric Lyman was really made of. After essentially flopping his first month with the team he gave his salary to charity. It was acts like this and his anonymous other charitable gestures that show what a cool guy he really was.
A very important aspect of this book, shows the reader all of the details leading up to Lymans final moments. The readers get all the details of the who, what, when, why and where of that fateful night. It filled in a lot of the blanks in the story for me and put to rest any doubts of what a stand up guy Lyman Bostock really was from beginning until the end.
Powell did a great job of sharingBostock’s story which I feel has been a very overlooked or forgotten subject. His time in both life and baseball were very short, but his impact was much greater beyond his years. Check this book out, I don’t think anyone who puts the effort into reading this will regret it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Rowman & Littlefield
Drugs has a nasty ring to it, no matter what your line of work. I am sure some occupations have a higher recreational drug use than others. Reasons could be stress or the dangers of the job, but it is still recreational drug use. What about the times that the drug use is because it gives you an edge over your co-workers. Essentially, that is what drug use is for in the professional sports leagues. To give you that edge over your teammates, to get you to the next big contract and reach that big pay day. The last 35 years or so there has been some well documented heavy duty drug use in baseball. So much so, that drug trials have almost been the norm every so often. Prior to the last 35 years Major League Baseball did a much better job of keeping the genie in the bottle. Now there is a book that takes a look at baseball’s drug abuse problem beyond the steroid’s scandals.
If you look at all the usual items that baseball players have used since the beginning of time, there are certain things that you could categorize as drugs just due to the fact that they have addictive qualities to them. Alcohol and tobacco have been around since the beginning of baseball. Now if you add in greenie pills, you get another drug that was a baseball staple long before cocaine and other performance enhancing drugs.
What Nathan Corzine tries to do with this book is show the full history of drugs within the game. The way he goes about it is very eye opening at least for me, because he is able to prove the progression of stimulants and illegal drugs throughout the game. It goes to show that the powers that be within baseball ownership did a very good job of hiding the truth. In all reality how many times have you looked at Mickey Mantle’s drinking problem and thought that is part of the bigger problem? This book takes those types of things to task and shows we have had the same types of problems all along, they were just hiding in different disguises.
Corzine’s book really makes you stop and think about baseball history. It takes issues with more than just Roger Clemens in a locker room bathroom or even Balco. These are just recent faces to the problems that have been hiding in the shadows of baseball for much longer than any of us have realized.
If you have any interest in the drug scandals of the last four decades, check this book out. You may be surprised to see that these issues have been lurking in the shadows much longer than any of us wanted to realize or admit to. Reader’s may not buy in 100% of all the things that would be considered drugs in this book, but it will definitely make you re-think what your definition truly is.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Illinois Press
There are certain seasons that stand out from others. Perhaps it is a historical event that happened during that particular year, a team that overcame great odds or even a year of monumental changes that may be hard to recognize without the use of hind sight. 1972 is one of those years that on the surface while it was happening, the participants really were not living it going this is something great we are doing here. It was a year that was plop in the middle of the time when the players union was starting to be a formidable force within the game, as well as a noticeable change in society’s values. Time where authority was being challenged, inflation was starting to run rampant and in the public’s eyes baseball would start moving from just a game to a business. Today’s book takes a look at the one pivotal year within this decade of change and shows some of the signs that people may have missed that the game was changing.
1972 offered some interesting things to baseball fans. Rosters were jammed full of future Hall of Famers, some at the beginnings of their careers and sadly other at the end, but when the bell would ring, still able to bring it. It was the first year the Player Union made enough noise to institute a strike and cost MLB owners some games, showing that Marvin Miller was not going to go away quietly as they had hoped. Salaries were on the move up and players were going from needing to have extra income in the off-season(second job) to living comfortably all year on their baseball earnings. On the field the most amazing thing happened was that the Oakland A’s run by the miserly Charlie Finley won the first of their three straight World Series titles. But at the time nobody realized what they were about to witness. Facing the straight laced Cincinnati Reds led by Pete Rose they knocked off their first title and showed the baseball world that the guys with their long hair and mustaches had finally arrived.
Ed Gruver’s new book takes the reader through the changing times in baseball during the 1972 season. Looking back on that year from our comfy couches in 2016, the big headlines that year was the 1972 World Series between the A’s and the Reds. Essentially a clash between old school baseball and new world values. On the field it was all old school baseball but off the field the Oakland A’s were a sight glass into the changing norms of society. Clothing, attitude and rules were all up for debate as far as the rowdy A’s were concerned.
The author also does a great job at covering at the different teams that made a splash during the 1972 season. The Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals all had seasons to remember on the field and some individuals made headlines as well. Willie Mays made triumphant return to the New York by joining the Mets, Hank Aaron was making headlines almost every day in his chase of Babe Ruth’s career home run mark and Dick Allen was singlehandedly saving the Chicago White Sox franchise on the way to winning the American League MVP trophy. It gives the reader a good look of what was going on around baseball beyond just the World Series participants. It shows the up and downs of other teams that before the decade was out would create their own histories.
This book gives you a great feel of what being part of 1972 was all about and how to some degree it was the changing of the guard within baseball. Old school baseball thinking versus new school societal ways created some tumultuous times and 1972 was the tipping point. I always enjoy these books that pick a single year and dissect all the important events. We have seen this type of book in Dan Epstein’s book about the 1976 season, Stars & Strikes and TimWendel’s Summer of ’68. Those books like this one, segregate that one season and look at the effects that it may have had on other seasons down the line. These are great tools for fans who were not able to be there the first time around, but want to know the ins and outs of that season and what made it so special.
This book is published by the University of Nebraska press and the last book I recently did by them was in my opinion not up to their normal editing standards from a factual standpoint. I am glad to say this book has raised the bar back up to their normal standards for the most part, but did have one easily verifiable mistake that drove me crazy, and as a Phillies fan it made me even crazier. The book states that Dick Allen was the first black player ever on the Phillies when he debuted in 1963. That would be three years after the last team integrated in Major League Baseball. For the Phillies the first player of color was John Kennedy in 1957. Other than that there was nothing substantial in the error department.
If you are a fan of this era you should enjoy it. It does start out a little slow and does offer a bit too much game play by play in spots but the product as a whole reads well. You get a new appreciation for 1972, because this year is an integral part of a larger era and sometimes gets overlooked when examined as part of the greater time frame.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
It is hard to deny that the Athletics baseball team have a pretty incredible history. Having called three separate cities home over the course of their existence, they have reached the pinnacle of the game several times over, along with finding the depths of despair. Some people think of the A’s as three separate teams at each of their locations, but now you can get a book that covers them as one entity.
David M. Jordan has taken on the task of covering the entire history of the Athletics franchise. Each location the A’s have called home are covered in this book. It is easier to find a book that covers one location, but it is I think, harder to find one book to cover their full history. Jordan covers the history in Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland with great detail. He shows the mainstay personalities that helped create their storied history in each city. He also covers the championships that have come their way throughout the years.
Books like this are usually for the hard-core fans of that team and this one is no exception. It gives a lot of detail of certain memorable seasons and glances over the not so memorable ones. They have a long history that is very hard to cover in a single book, especially when you are trying to cover the time from Connie Mack to Charlie Finley and then on to Billy Ball. Nonetheless, David M. Jordan does a thorough job and gives the reader a real feel for this teams history. If you are not very familiar with the A’s complete history, this gives you a good taste of what you have been missing.
If you are a hard-core fan, this is a good book for you. The reader gets some obscure facts that those type of fans will appreciate. I think if you are a casual fan and looking for a light easy read, this may not be for you. This book gives a detailed history lesson of the A’s that is hard to beat. No matter what city that you were a fan of the A’s in, it is worth checking out.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland Publishing