Sometimes I find a baseball autobiography and wonder if this player really needed their own book. If that player had an average, or even less than average career, what could they possibly bring to the table? Sometimes I get a pleasant surprise when one of those average player writes a book that holds my interest and produces a good reading experience for me. Today’s book falls into that pleasant surprise category and from an unlikely source to boot.
Jerry Reuss by most standards had an average career. Never the ace of a staff, but a serviceable arm that would eat innings and help teams in their push to the top. Pitching for eight teams over a 22 year span, Reuss compiled an impressive win total of 220. From a pitcher that never won more than 18 games in any given season, that is an impressive total.
Jerry Reuss starts the reader on a journey through his early years in Missouri, where he first dreamed of becoming a major league pitcher. Signing with the hometown St. Louis Cardinals, Reuss had all the makings of a real life dream come true.
Reuss then shows the reader what the inside, off the field life of a baseball player is really like. Back stabbings by the upper management people he trusted, trades, releases and other not so pleasant things a player deals with on an annual basis. It shows how much more players even back in those days had to deal with off the field.
The big thing I took away from this book is how remaining true to yourself and dealing fair with people will help you get ahead at whatever your vocation. Jerry Reuss played more years than many of his contemporaries did who maintained the same skill set. It comes across as being a combination of perseverance at his chosen trade and being a decent person on and off the field. In the end this average pitcher ended his career, after a few stops in different cities, the proud owner of a World Series ring.
This book is a pretty enjoyable read. It moves along at a brisk pace and holds the readers interest through more than just on the field happenings. Anecdotes about himself and teammates keep you engaged and give you a real feel what it was like to be a teammate of Reuss’. It also shows a glimpse of the personality of Reuss himself which comes across as a fun loving guy and a great teammate.
If you are a fan of Reuss or any of the teams he played for, take the time to read this book. It is not a book that one would compare to War & Peace in any way. It is more of a breezy light hearted read of an average pitcher with an interesting journey. I wasn’t expecting much out of Reuss’ stories about his career and his teammates, but was pleasantly surprised at what I got. You never know who or what is going to present you with an enjoyable book.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
As I sit here and recover from surgery, I remember this is the week that my wife and I were going to be crisscrossing the country catching our baseball games at various stadiums. It is somewhat depressing thinking about what could have been, but it is on the back burner for next year and hopefully without any unforeseen issues. The time off recovering has forced me to read more and allowed me to catch up on some of my posts. I have been able to look at some varying topics as of late and found a very interesting, off the beaten path topic for today’s book.
Inventing Baseball Heroes takes a look at how the media picks a certain player and uses their skills to fulfill a certain agenda. That agenda is creating hero worship for certain players within the game. This book centers on the early twentieth century and shows how the media helped make certain baseball players household names.
The book is looking at a different time in the world of media. The two main forms at that time were Newspapers and Radio. Through the use if these mediums the writers were able to promote their agendas in making certain players seem larger than life. Their exploits on the field were magnetized to an audience that was looking for new heroes.
The down side to the public looking for heroes was the fact that it allowed journalists of that period to blur the line between fact and fiction. Call it creative license if you want, but it leads me back to the old saying of never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. With reporting being what it was during that time period, you really have to wonder how much of what we accept as truth now is actually accurate.
Throughout the history of baseball and more precisely through each generation, you can see players who were regarded as both the clear and concise hero and one who was the clear and concise villain. These players are easily identifiable, and in more current times during the steroid era, some players have been on both sides of that line, again blurring the definition of hero and villain
Amber Roessner does a very nice job of looking at the actions of the media during the formative years of baseball as we all know it. It makes you wonder how much of what we accept as historical fact in the game is actually generated from the imagination of the media. It is something that one can clearly see continuing throughout the history of the game as the generations have passed on.
If you have any interest in the early media coverage of the game you should check this book out. It shows how our game was shaped in the eyes of our society. It also shows to some extent how we as an American society look to our heroes for guidance on how to act in our world.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Louisiana State University Press
Jackie Robinson’s legacy is well known, so there is no need for me to lay it out there for everyone. Perhaps he has had the single greatest social impact on the game during his life and after it as well. Regardless of his legacy, Jackie Robinson has had a serious amount of articles and books written about him. Danny Peary has put together a book that is a compilation of Jackie Robinson quotes. It introduces a new and interesting way to see the profound impact Robinson made on the game.
Danny Peary’s book follows a unique path as far as a book goes. The format falls in line with his other book Derek Jeter In Quotes. Both of the books paint an interesting picture of their subjects. The Jackie Robinson volume draws from books, player and manager interviews, newspaper articles, historians and some quotes from Jackie himself. It allows the author to show a more intimate portrait of Robinson that a simple one dimension biography is unable to display.
Danny Peary’s books are always enjoyable to read and this one is no exception. The other books he has collaborated on are thoroughly researched and the subjects are accurately portrayed to the reader. This book is no exception to his past works and the new format he has with the quotes make it a very enjoyable read. You get both a feel for Robinson as well as the person making the quote. So in essence you are getting more than one perspective in this format.
I said it about the Derek Jeter In Quotes book and it carries true on the Jackie Robinson volume as well, this is a welcome change from the standard baseball player autobiography. Quite honestly when you read several different books in a year, you embrace a change and really enjoy something out of the ordinary. Fans should check this out because I can almost guarantee if you think you know everything about Jackie Robinson, you don’t. This book will surely give you some new information to add to your Jackie Robinson arsenal. Check it out I do not think you will be disappointed.
The more books I read, the more I think almost everybody is a baseball fan. It seems to touch everyone on some level and if they chose to admit it or not, is their prerogative. I have come across books in the past with an agenda of a very serious topic that also has some sort of baseball spin to them. These books usually put on display a great social injustice in a specific area, but to date I have not come across one that spells out the governmental backstabbing one specific community had to endure. Today’s book was found by a recommendation from a Facebook friend (thanks Debby!) and I was not disappointed in the least.
This books intended audience I believe was not to be considered a baseball book. Its original purpose was to show the social injustice that the Mexican community had to endure at the hands of the Los Angeles city government. Essentially they destroyed a tight knit community in the name of social progress and urban development. Change like that was to some degree inevitable in every big city during the post World War II era and Los Angeles was no exception. By destroying the Chavez Ravine community the city created numerous economic and social disasters that plagued that area for decades.
Most of the property the city claimed was through short purchase and eminent domain in the name of housing developments. In the end those housing developments never came to be, and the land was eventually used for other purposes. In case you haven’t figured it out, this is where the Dodgers come in to play and acquired their space to build Dodger Stadium. It shows the numerous back room deals that benefited Walter O’ Malley and the Dodgers franchise, all while backstabbing a community. It really shows the darker side of moving baseball to the west coast.
The book is a very thoughtful and insightful case study of Los Angeles politics during this time period. It also shows the scarier side of city politics and how as fans we don’t always see the dark side of the baseball business dealings. The book is not entirely a baseball product, but it does have enough content to hold a fans interest throughout the entire book . For those who think Walter O’Malley was a hero for bringing baseball west may really want to check this book out, because it really sheds a different light on the entire process.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The University of Arizona Press
Time marches on, it is inevitable. No matter what you are applying a time analogy to, it is unstoppable. In baseball, a sometimes overwhelming characteristic is nostalgia. The players were better, the teams were better, the game on the field was better, the hot dogs were better, even some teams that existed were better just because they existed. The Dodgers have been gone from Brooklyn for almost 60 years, but to some degree they still live on. Ebbets Field is long gone and the last remaining Dodgers are starting to pass away, but the Bums of Brooklyn are still alive in the minds of many fans. Todays book takes a look at how the Brooklyn Dodgers were more than just a team that played in a New York neighborhood.
The Dodgers were loved by the fans of Brooklyn, possibly more than any other team in all of baseball. They were a pillar of their community and woven so deeply into it that they were almost considered part of the family by the local residents. It is not hard to understand why all these years later they are still the most popular subject pertaining to Brooklyn.
David Krell has put together a nice new book that looks at the importance of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and beyond. He starts with giving some background history about the team and its ownership. Starting from the teams birth, you see how they came to call Brooklyn home, and eventually became the tenants of Ebbets Field. You walk through the teams storied history and eventual rise through the National League. You see historical moments that happen in Brooklyn and how the team became a part of the communal fabric. The author shows the reader the financial struggles, management challenges and ownership fights that all helped shape the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The part of this book that not many other books have gone as far at looking in-depth at, is the struggles of the real world that helped shape the Dodgers fortunes. Deaths of owners, financial struggles and drastic shifts in the desires of our society have all had a hand in shaping the Brooklyn Dodgers. I have seen other books touch on these subjects, but this one goes a little further in-depth in that analysis. Essentially it is the changes after World War II in our society that effected the Dodgers the most. It wasn’t just O’Malley’s desire for a new stadium that removed the Dodgers from Brooklyn. This book walks the readers through a series of cultural events that paved the way for their exodus to Los Angeles.
There are many books out there chronicling the Dodgers existence and each has its own merits. This one as well has its own merits, but it does give the reader a little different angle at which to view the Dodgers time in Brooklyn. Baseball fans and history buffs should check this one out, you will really enjoy it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland Publishing
Teams that have been in existence for a long time have great histories. It is inevitable that through the passage of time some neat things are going to happen and in turn create some great traditions. The Dodgers are one such team that have that long and storied tradition. Being part of the national pastime almost from the beginning, they have created some wonderful memories through the years as well as leaving their mark on the great game we all love. One such tradition was Vero Beach, Florida. The spring training home of the Dodgers for decades, they basically made that town their own little world. Today’s book takes a look at the mark the Dodgers left on that sleepy little town in Florida.
Vero Beach in the 1940’s was a sleepy quiet little town in Florida, at least until the Dodgers arrived. Looking to save a buck and avoid segregation issues the Dodgers created their own little complex on a vacated military base. The idea of doing that at the time was unheard of, but does show how the Dodgers liked to not always follow tradition. It allowed for all the players to stay in one location and form a bond as a team, that none of the others had.
Rody Johnson has written a book that chronicles the entire existence of the Dodgers in Vero Beach. From their first spring at the crude facility through the end when the Dodgers folded their tent and moved to Arizona, you see what became Dodgertown. The book shows you how the Dodgers remodeled and expanded their facility through the years and how the local government was effected both by the Dodgers and other businesses that called Vero home. It also shows the results of the growth of Vero Beach had, because the Dodgers called that town home. Being more than a spring training complex you also get to see the operations the Dodgers had there pretty much year round that helped the economy of the area grow.
This is an in-depth book that shows how a team that you really only thought of as a spring training tenant really was a participant in the town all year. If you are not familiar with the Dodgers spring training operations, as I wasn’t, you will be surprised at the magnitude of their facility. It was called Dodgertown for a reason, and this book shows the reader that it really was warranted.
Dodgers fans will enjoy it as well as all baseball fans. It shows a cool operation that was a big part of the teams history, and the likes of something we may never see again of this magnitude.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University Press of Florida