LATEST BASEBALL BOOK REVIEWS
COOL OF THE EVENING: The 1965 Minnesota Twins
by Jim Thielman (Kirk House Publishers)
Forty years ago Calvin Griffith’s transplanted Washington Senators nabbed the AL Flag. They did it in pinstripe uniforms with navy lids donned with two interlocking letters--TC. Lost Wages odds makers slated the Minneapolis-St. Paul Hometown(s) Nine to be swept by the West Coast ‘Brooklyn’ Dodgers, but surprisingly the Fall Classic went the full seven games. Was it a case of Yankees losing the Pennant that Year? What devil of deal did Cal cut to get a winning squad? Who were these Joe Hardys of the Upper Mid-West? COOL OF THE EVENING: 1965 Minnesota Twins refreshingly sets the stage from spring training to World Series about the good ‘65 season.
Author Jim Thielman skillfully casts the Twins tale.
In spite injuries to Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual, and Earl Battey, the players brought Minnesota its first World Series. And for only the third time since World War II -- a team other than the NY Yankees won the American League pennant. In COOL OF THE EVENING Theilman focuses on players, coaches, fans, and friendships. A perennial problem position for the Nats/Twins was the keystone bag until Denver AAA call-up Frank Quilici outreached to SS veteran Zoilo Versalles. No more midfield woes. Tony Oliva said, “Batting is all luck anyway. You not lucky, you get no hits.” Truth told Mr. Oliva worked hard took extra BP and was one of 3 in the entire league to club over .300 in 1965.
COOL OF THE EVENING reminds us Baseball was the 1960s premiere sport. Prior to free agency, trades were the way to improve a team and thankfully some of those swaps never happened for Minnesota. But ah, the almost-runs in COOL could ice some fans. Mets aces in the Met. Yaz back in Minny. And who the Twins almost sprinkled among the AL would make you hot for COOL OF THE EVENING.
PEACH: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours, by Richard Bak
(Sports Media Group) Visit: www.sports-mediagroup.com
“A cross between tidal wave, cyclone and
earthquake-Fire, wind and water all out on a lark;
Then out from the reel comes the glitter of steel,
Plus ten tons of dynamite hitched to a spark.”
Being of the Generation whose collective Cobb consciousness is best characterized by Tommy Lee Jones’ craven celluloid creature maybe its time to give a devil his due. There are many Heroes of The Hall Wagner, Gehrig, Mattherson, one would want over for dinner. Indeed, if invites got misdirected in Cooperstown, the Georgia Peach would not be given a seat, but shown the door. Until now, PEACH: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours presents a fuller portrayal of this Diamond Game demon. No Motor City I don’t cry for your first baseball star, yet again he might be allowed access to the house foyer.
Time heals all wounds? PEACH: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours sets forth details which do not excuse his notorious behavior however in sum make it easier to focus on his baseball achievements. Cobb rocked NY’s Jack Chesbro for .426 batting average and hit over .350+ vs. Walter ‘Big Train’ Johnson, Urban Shocker, & Chief Bender. Against the finest hurlers of his day and all others he picked up the AL batting crown a dozen times in 24 seasons. October 13, 1908, TC became the 4th Pro (after Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, and Harry Davis) to have his decal sealed onto a Louisville Slugger. Why now, do these factoids shine? Oh sure, the movie and age-old tales relate his mother’s manslaughter trial, fisticuffs on fans and foes, the alienation from family. Yet, I don’t remember the biopic or hotstove talkers stating Cobb did not file his spikes or led by Tiger veteran flycatcher Matty McIntyre TC was viciously hazed for multiple seasons.
Journalist and author Richard Bak, an expert on Detroit and sports (over 20+ books) has honed a recipe here to make PEACH: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours a highly tasty read.
JOE Rounding Third & Heading For Home
by Greg Hoard, (Orange Frazer Press) visit: www.orangefrazer.com
Would you undergo this task? You’re a local pitching ace inked by a Major League club and in your first pro start you have to face Barry Bonds. By the way, you are just 15 years old to boot. That’s how Cincinnati Reds Southpaw Joe Nuxhall got his June 10, 1944 intro to The Show. In the 8th inning of a 13-0 debacle Red Legs skipper Bill ‘Deacon’ McKechnie called upon the youngster to take the mound. The 9th grader got two out and two on before veteran slugger Stan ‘The Man’ Musial knocked in two ripping a Nuxhall fastball into right. Joe’s initial performance rendered him with a 67.50 ERA. With that MLB debut, for most individuals, JOE Rounding Third & Heading For Home, would be a short story title.
‘Hamilton Joe’ Nuxhall endured that woeful opening and produced a lively and expansive baseball career of over six decades. JOE Rounding Third & Heading For Home wonderfully presents ‘The Old Lefthander’ story. He pitched 22 seasons, including a 1955 All-Star year leading the NL in shutouts. After 2,169 innings pitched, 1,289 Ks, 135 career wins, Cincinnati retired him to their broadcast booth and regional radio network. From 1967 forward WLW Diamond Game listeners heard him until then on April 5, 2004 rightfully labeled ‘The Season of Joe’ one final season tour.
Joe Nuxhall’s biography, written by sportscaster Greg Hoard, goes beyond mere geographic lines about this Greater Cincinnati area legend all baseball fans will enjoy this athlete’s love for the game. The bio also does not subscribe to the tell-all expose approach. We see this method too often and author Hoard deserves high kudos for bucking this J-school trend. Rather we are treated to one player’s successful climb to The Show. Think of it ‘The Old Lefthander’ got to see, play with, or against, a Baseball Pantheon of Stars, Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Gil Hodges, Ralph Kiner, Ted Kluszewski, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, Sammy Sosa, Warren Spahn, and all because a Depression era industrial league boy hurler was given a chance and never looked back until now with JOE Rounding Third & Heading For Home.
BASEBALL CHATTER: Favorite baseball stories from the game’s insiders, by The Sporting News, Sporting News Books, Cloth,
For those who think BASEBALL CHATTER merely lies with the proverbial “We want a pitcher not a belly itcher” Or the ever stimulating “Swing batter, batter swing.” As we say in New York, forgetaboutit! The good people at THE SPORTING NEWS have assembled well over 100 favorite baseball stories from the game’s insiders. Yarns from Cal Ripkin Jr., Jack McKeon, Joe Buck, Bob Costas, Tommy Lasorda, Sparky Anderson are some jewels in this Diamond game collection.
BASEBALL CHATTER contains inside the park and off the field gems. Here’s a novel Pinstripe parody by Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell. In the 1950s Mr. Harwell worked in NY. The Big Apple Sports Photographers crowned Yankee Hank Bauer with the ‘Good Guy of the Year’ title and Harwell encouraged the ballplayer to bring the prize over to Toots Shor’s.
And, “Bauer goes over to the Waldorf Astoria and gets his award. It’s a grandfather clock. So he is struggling through the streets of Manhattan and he bumps into this guy who is sort of disheveled and had too much to drink and knocks the guy down in the gutter. And Bauer, who is carrying this big grandfather clock, is a little bit disturbed by this guy. Bauer says, ‘Why the hell don’t you look where you are going?’ The guy looks up at Bauer from the gutter and says, ‘Why can’t you be like everybody else and wear a wristwatch.’”
You will have the time of your life going thru BASEBALL CHATTER. Whether you peruse chapter to chapter or delve into its comprehensive player index to focus on just Legends or journeymen you will have a grand slam of fun.
Be prepared for the post season and next season with BASEBALL CHATTER. It’s the perfect rain delay, pre-game, post-game companion.
ROADSIDE BASEBALL: Uncovering hidden treasures from our national pastime by Chris Epting, Foreword by Joe Buck, (The Sporting News)
Do you get your kicks on Route 66? Now with ROADSIDE BASEBALL you can tour a bevy of Diamond game delights among the USAs highways and byways. A sports history book, travel guide, and baseball trivia tome rolled into one handy volume be sure to keep ROADSIDE BASEBALL in your sedan or RV cause a baseball legends shrine, site, or birthplace may be just around the corner.
As Sports is regional. ROADSIDE BASEBALLs East Chapter drove me to Seamhead heaven. Sure in New Yorks Golden Apple--Westchester County the Bambino rests in peace (Hawthorne, NY). Most know that fact. But were you aware in less than a 45-minute jaunt from our WBG meeting hall theres a life-size bronze statue of Dodger Great Jackie Robinson, (Stamford, CT), Ebbetts Field Lights, (Downing Stadium) or the Hall of Fame, Jersey that is (East Rutherford, NJ), can be found?
Chris Epting has mapped out traditional and some quirky National Pastime places. The Field of Dreams (Dyersville IA), Little League Museum (Williamsport, PA), and the Negro League Baseball Museum (Kansas City, MO) are detailed here. So are the Buckminister Hotel (Boston, MA) where the Black Sox schemed their 1919 Fall Classic Fix, Fayettville NC, where Ruth 1st went yard in the pro game, and the Roger Maris Museum (Fargo, ND).
Over 300 historical baseball preservations are contained in ROADSIDE BASEBALL providing true believers a lot of wonderful sport oasis to pull over and gander. Oh Route 66? No you want Route 56 the Ted Williams Highway.
FOUL BALL: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark by Jim Bouton (Bulldog Publishing) for more info visit: www.foulball.com
They tore up paradise and put in a parking lot.
BALL FOUR outs City Hall. Yankee, All-Star, World Series winner, best-selling author, Jim Bouton has done it again. FOUL BALL, his first book since the legendary BALL FOUR is a must read. The New York Public Library deemed Bouton initial work as one of the Books of the Century. The frank, inside the MLB clubhouse diary gave rise to todays sports journalism and was actually used in evidence at the arbitration hearing that led to free agency in baseball. Boutons FOUL BALL easily rolls to the front line of being a Book of the 21st Century.
FOUL BALL serves up the latest USA civic game. Build it will go. Team Owners, League officials, lament their ballpark needs total overhaul with taxpayer dollars. Elected officials charged with the public trust and purse-ramble and scramble and impulsively buy the cry. No Mayor wants to be the one to have lost the Hometown Nine. Besides nice slogans like economic development, revenue enhancement, always justify public subsidies to private corporate entities no matter the excessive costs or empty results impacted on city resources and residents.
In 2001 Bouton, et al, had a clear, sound pitch to save historic Wahconah Park at no cost to the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. For those who want to know the inside game of why a city million in the hole would want to spend .5 million on a new stadium, destroy a landmark, and how E.P.O.s can tune out a majority of their constituents catch FOUL BALL.
Boutons journal detailing this Show will be highly appreciated by sports enthusiasts and any one who has asked elected officials to support a sane citizen proposal only to get back H.E.G.O. (His/her eyes glazed over.) Fans are advised to avoid foul balls this FOUL BALL you should grab.
TED WILLIAMS THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION by Jim Prime & Bill Nowlin, Foreword by Robert Redford (Sports Publishing L.L.C.) Cloth, CD Includes Actual Calls, Reactions, & Williams Interviews (Audio provided by Ted Patterson)
more info visit: www.sportspublishingllc.com
---Lets face it. There has never been
a perfect hitter. Ruth and Mantle struck
out too much, and Cobb was a push hitter
with no power I could point to every
hitter I saw, including Ted Williams,
and tell you where they fell short of
The Perfectionist Paradox? At first that passage radically jarred my wits and emotions by its harsh indictment. Then upon further reflection only a true believer could utter those words. Singularly, a devout adherent or better yet only the Creator himself to the Science of Hitting could put forth such a forthright assessment. So that key paragraph sets the clear tone for TED WILLIAMS THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.
Jim Prime and Bill Nowlin wonderful tome gives the fullest account to date of THE GAMES GREATEST HITTER. The Triple Hall of Famers journey commences in Southern California and makes path through Minnesota, the Bay State, Korea, Floridian and Canadian Waterways and the Hearts and Minds of Baseball enthusiasts. Williams pursuit of perfection in all weighty endeavors-Professional Baseball, Military Service, & Sport Fishing-landed him in Cooperstown, the U.S. Marine Corps Hall of Fame, and the Fishing Hall of Fame.
Prime and Nowlin bring together various individual accounts from all those fields of Ted Williams The Man. The authors have indeed carefully crafted a 360-degree life size volume about this Legend. As an added value, I just heard perfection. TED WILLIAMS THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION has a companion CD. Some tracks that will resonate are his last at bat (1960), cycles of baseball (interview with Curt Gowdy), and acceptance speech 1969 MGR of the Year Awards Dinner.
TWILGHT TEAMS by Jeff Stuart,
(Order line (301) 869-3882) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For everything there is a season
- Ecclesiastes 3:01
There is no greater thrill than the hometown nine capturing the league flag. In the main, New York baseball fans usually can celebrate such at seasons end or even the supreme joy the World Championship. Losing or dwelling in the conference cellar is not the darkest day. Indeed, the utmost pathos for any city is when their club leaves town forever. That sinister black cloud covered the Big Apple twofold in the late Fifties. The Bums and Giants took off for the Left Coast and some New Yorkers still have not seen daylight since. But Gotham was not alone.
TWILGHT TEAMS: 1952 Boston Braves, 1953 St. Louis Browns, 1954 Philadelphia Athletics, 1957 New York Giants, 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1971 Washington Senators is a highly entertaining account of those squads last seasons. TWILIGHT TEAMS particular ray of strength is the ill-fated teams narrative does contain a good portion of what happened between the lines. Just like the condemned savoring that last smoke before eternal night fans of these defunct crews can peruse Diamond high and low lights. And think and ponder what could have been. SABRite Jeff Stuart astutely closes stat and game-by-game summery with each TWILIGHT TEAM chapter. Maybe you too will succumb like this writer did in reviewing Braves, Browns, and Nats, statistics. And wonder if they could have gotten a run here or if the bench batting average could have been 20% higher or the hurlers could have tossed 15% more Ks would it have meant more Wins and a stay?
Jeff Stuart has cast a wonderful focus with his inaugural book TWILGHT TEAMS. A baseball historian, but more importantly the Metro DC resident was a Washington Senator enthusiast. Having rooted for the Teddyballgame led bunch in the Capitols shadow, perhaps thats why
Mr. Stuarts book is a fine and heartfelt sports volume.
THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards by Ted Patterson
Foreward by Brooks Robinson
Ted Patterson has done something Babe Ruth never did as an Oriole---hit a home run. THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards is sweeter then a Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich. Here in the Big Apple it may be the Bronx Bombers 100th Anniversary, but this book is indeed a flavorful recipe about one of the Yanks arch A.L. Divisional opponents.
Four Decades of Magic highlights the St. Louis Browns 1953 move to Baltimore. Over those forty years the basement Browns evolved into the brash, bold Birds. Major League Baseball had indeed returned to the city whose last club headed North to become the Highlanders then the Yanks. Anyhow, three-time award winning Maryland sportscaster Patterson has assembled a baseball volume all Diamond aficionados should have in their sports library. THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES is nested full of photos of Os Superstars Cal, Brooks, & Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, key players, Luis Aparicio, Boog Powell, Dave McNally, and Don Larsen, Hank Bauer, Reggie Jackson, Paul Blair, Don Baylor, Dave Johnson, hey there is that New York connection again.
Patterson also places in his work numerous images of yearbooks, programs, scorecards, and other Bird memorabilia that enables the reader to fully feel they are part of THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards.
Florida Hitting Coach Bill Robinson recalls his Bronx Bomber & Pirate playing days.
NEW YORK YANKEES!
Dodger Pilot Grady Little considers a "White Plains Walk-On".
METS, METS, METS & N.L. cousins!
THE PLAYER: Christy Mathewson, Baseball and the American Century by Philip Seib (Four Walls Eight Windows) more info visit: www.4w8w.com
Conceit and overconfidence are the worst enemies a ballplayer has. Do not let them turn your
head. Be humble and gentle and kind.
A New Year's Start, what's hot and not? Right now the best baseball biography hands down is THE PLAYER. Be prepared in '04 for a sports talk return to the Deadball Era. In the upcoming days baseball's early stars Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Tris Speaker, Smoky Joe Wood will return to the limelight. Why? Pete Rose's current Cooperstown crusade in the face of his gambling sins and, in one man's forecast, the dropping of MLB home run production will rev up fan chat about that Era. A time period when "Inside Baseball" and illegal wagering abounded in the game. And as Sports is regional the New York Franchise Pro who hurled during Deadball's Ascendancy was Charter Hall of Fame Inductee Christy Mathewson. His gallant story as THE PLAYER should be known to all.
In his heyday NY Giant Mathewson successfully pitched not only against field opponents, but he grasped the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and an entire nation. Marquette University Professor Philip Sieb has masterfully put together Mathewson's story. THE PLAYER opens with Mathewson's humble beginnings in Factoryville, Pennsylvannia and relates his debut as a key hurler for McGraw's Giants. But beyond the ballpark THE PLAYER wrote a series of popular children's books, started an insurance company, served his country overseas as an Army captain, and remained a popular National hero. At a time most ballplayers were held in dim moral view, THE PLAYER shined and was admired for his integrity.
Sieb's work is not some syrupy Boy's Life tale. He has penned a powerful and fresh tribute about the Big Apple's first Superstar. Mathewson played with and managed some rough characters. In fact THE PLAYER took on the Game's most notorious villain, Hal Chase, a first sacker owned lock, stock, and all by gamblers. Is it 1904 or 2004? Never mind because THE PLAYER indeed is a timeless account.
COLT .45s A SIX-GUN SALUTE: An Illustrated History of The Houston Colt .45s 1962-1964 by Robert Reed, Foreword by
Rusty Staub, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group)
Want to see a white wine drinking Brie cheese eating politically correct Diamond Game fan choke? Then hoist up COLT .45s A SIX-GUN SALUTE: An Illustrated History of The Houston Colt .45s 1962-1964. Robert Reed volume hits the mark as a keen tribute to Houston baseball history prior to Domes, carpet, and Stros. Some great baseball snapshots like Jimmy Toy Cannon Wynn and San Fran Willie Mays or the young Colt flycatcher with Milwaukee Brave Hank Aaron. Even better that renowned trivia question posed forever in great light-The All-Rookie Team-Brock Davis, Aaron Pointer, Jim Wynn, Glenn Vaughn, Sonny Jackson, Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, Jay Dahl and Jerry Grote. But the real kickers are the club media flashes. Team publicity shots with coaches, players, and even skipper Harry Craft aiming pistols. Better yet how about Houston Heartthrob Miss Colt .45 of 1962 Rocky Renee? Looking at these bursts of photos you can just hear the bleached Blonde University of Houston freshman cooing Why this .45 is just an itsy-bitsy gun?
Reed, a seasoned scribe with over 18 years experience, opens COLT .45s A SIX-GUN SALUTE with a detailed history of Baseball in the Bayou City circa 1867-1961. That chapter targets the reader to know Houston paid its dues and then some to get The Show in its City Limits. Welcome to the Wild Wild West as Houston wheels and deals to land a MLB franchise.
Was the Continental League for real? Could the Dodgers have ended up being this prairie dog Hometown Nine?
What was the special something Houston hurler Turk Farrell gave Stan The Man? Why did the team change its successful merchandising moniker? Indeed we will never see any expansion sports club with such a politically incorrect name. So reach for COLT .45s A SIX-GUN SALUTE.
Images of Sports BROOKLYN DODGERS by Mark Rucker, (Arcadia) more info: www.arcadiapublishing.com
I wanted to be a big league baseball
player so I could see my picture on
a bubble gum card.-Al Ferrara
Baseball like no other sport has a rich pictorial tradition. Once upon a time, there was just TOPPS and for your nickel you opened a waxed paper pack, get a stale slab of pink plastic ah, er chewing gum and a dozen pro images. Prior to the Greatest and Baby Boomer generations tobacco products had ballplayer pictures. Today multiple card companies and memorabilia shows meet baseball fans customary fix to see and collect visions of their diamond favorites.
For those of us who grew up in the Metro New York area and yearned to locate Granddad scrapbook collection Images of Sports BROOKLYN DODGERS answers those dreams. Spanning the years from 1850 to 1959, baseball depictions geared to the County of Kings abound in this Arcadia Publishing volume. From Excelsiors, Brooklyn Atlantics, Trolley Dodgers to Dem Bums we are treated to all the official forerunners of Major League Baseballs current NL franchise now located in the City of Angels. Author Mark Rucker also rightfully includes the Brooklyn Royal Giants a perennial prohibitive favorite Negro League ballclub.
Images of Sports BROOKLYN DODGERS focuses on Hall of Famers and the Not So Greats. Prior to being enshrined in Baseball Valhalla, Rickey, Robinson, Medwick, Reese, Bancroft, Jennings, Keeler can be seen in their prime. And those pros that fell short of Cooperstown like Durocher, Higbe, Mungo, Reiser are here too. Sports marketing a new thing? Take a good look at circa 1912 Washington Park no ivy, but ad clad outfield walls.
If you wished for a treasure trove of historic Dodger baseball cards then dig Images of Sports BROOKLYN DODGERS off the bookshelf.
THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA by Peter C. Bjarkman (Sports Publishing Inc.) www.sportspublishinginc.com
"Can't anybody here play this game?" Who would of thunk it? From lovable losers to the Amazins', the New York Metropolitans have given Baseball some of the Game's most hysterical and historical moments. Now, in a handy sized volume Peter Bjarkman has compiled the Franchise's story. THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA covers the team's 39-season history.
From 1962 NL doormats, to 1969 Miracle Mets, 1986 World
Champs to the 2000 Subway Series, all the Gotham Greats are named. Sure, we know the legends, Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Gil Hodges, Gary Carter, Richie Asburn, Yogi Berra, and the Ol' Perfessor, Casey Stengel. But what about these Mets? Pumpsie Green, Del Unser, Choo Choo Coleman, Don Zimmer, Gus Bell, Calvin Schiraldi, Willie Randolph, Rick Cerone, and Larry Bowa. You can look them up, in THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA.
As a NYU Sports Marketing Degree holder, chapter 8 "Legendary Front-Office Personalities and Memorable Broadcast Voices" caught my full attention. What's the most difficult thing in sport? Hit a baseball? Generate revenue. The Pen is Mightier than Run, Throw, Field, Hit, Hit with Power. Kidding aside, with the growing interest in the business of baseball, kudos to author Bjarkman for this section. Also included in THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA is a panoramic foldout of the sandlot in Queens. The images are worthy for framing in your personal clubhouse.
In addition to the Shea Stadium photos, THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA is chock full of pictures. Particularly, the Mets Season-by-Season summaries contain a portrait or key action shot that indeed captures the year's theme. Without a doubt, New York Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy this work, as Peter Bjarkman's THE NEW YORK METS ENCYCLOPEDIA got game.
TRUE BLUE: The Dramatic History of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Told by the Men Who Lived It by Steve Delsohn (William Morrow)
With the success of the Greatest Generation, et al is it no wonder in the sports book world there's an ever growing number of oral history titles? Westchester Baseball Group members who attended Marty Appel's August 2001 talk heard him speak positively of this increasingly popular writing format. Enthused to experience a sports oral history, I picked up TRUE BLUE: The Dramatic History of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Told by the Men Who Lived It. Like the kid Mikey, Johnny V liked it.
What a refreshing historical angle, why not relate the Dodger franchise saga from 1957 and it's West Coast beginnings? ESPN correspondent Steve Delsohn admirably rises to the task. Delsohn is an accomplished writer familiar with the oral history format. In addition to TRUE BLUE, he has authored two other oral histories, The Fire Inside: Firefighters Talk About Their Lives and Talking Irish: The Oral History of Notre Dame Football.
Delsohn interviewed 124 people with rich ties to Dodger history. Some of TRUE BLUE's roster list Tommy Lasorda, Frank Howard, Kirk Gibson, Don Sutton, Carl Erskine and Johnny Podres. Wordsmiths like Roger Kahn, Robert Creamer, Pete Hamill, Neil Sullivan, and Bob Costas are also included. From the Coliseum to record crowds at Chavez Ravine, ballplayers give their perspectives about those California diamonds and the tales that make up Blue legends. But TRUE BLUE is no puff of smoke. Delsohn boldly delves into multiple Dodger controversies with his subjects.
The ugliest incident in West Coast MLB history. August 1965 Candlestick Park Juan Marichal strikes Dodger catcher John Roseboro with a bat. Pitching ace Sandy Koufax stuns the world with his retirement at age 30. Lasorda takes the helm. Campanis and the NIGHTLINE affair, did he really say that? Garvey v. Sutton duke it out. You can never go home again, LA'er native Strawberry joins the team. Key backstop Piazza asks for green but does not receive and L.A. fans see red when a blockbuster trade with Florida is announced shipping Piazza and Todd Zeille for all-stars Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, and Bobby Bonilla, with Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios. TRUE BLUE: The Dramatic History of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Told by the Men Who Lived It, will certainly add color to your baseball library.
Diamond Game Reviews
THE TY COBB SCRAPBOOK: An Illustrated Chronology of Significant Dates in the 24-Year Career of the Fabled Georgia Peach by Mark Okkonen, (Sterling)
Was the Georgia Peach the greatest ballplayer of all time? Talk of Cobb usually and immediately conjures up human nature's dark side. Let's face it he was not loved by teammates or family. Yet on the diamond Ty Cobb's talents and skills were on the side of the angels. Given his harsh disposition and ornery reputation, I for one have found it hard to study his game performances until now. Kudos for Marc Okkonen for creating THE TY COBB SCRAPBOOK.
Marc Okkonen selected 800 games from Cobb's life
time and described them in a "you are there" fashion. Pure brilliance is THE TY COBB SCRAPBOOK. It is like finding a treasure from grandpa's attic sans the cobwebs and dust. Chock full of illustrations, ads, and photographs, it casts Cobb in a light not seen by modern eyes. Indeed he was a fierce competitor. For instance: Tuesday, August 24, 1915@ Detroit vs. Boston, Bos. 3 Det.1. "Ty reverted to one of his favorite tactics by accusing pitcher Shore of illegally doctoring baseballs. All afternoon he repeatedly demanded that umpire George Hildebrand examine the baseballs thrown by Shore and even confronted BoSox manager Bill Carrigan in their dugout with heated charges that balls were being defaced with emery cloth or sandpaper." or Monday June 10, 1918 @ Detroit vs. Philadelphia, Det. 6 Phil. 4. "Still nursing a sore shoulder Ty Cobb played first base flawlessly and banged out a single a double and a triple in four times up to help George Dauss survive an 11 hit performance."
Marc Okkonen's use of the diary entry method permits one to pick up and read and reread THE TY COBB SCRAPBOOK and see in the mind's eye a highly capable ballplayer. Marc Okkonen has to his existing baseball authorship credit the unique volume entitled: "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century". Clearly, THE TY COBB SCRAPBOOK and its subject go along with the appropriate label of the greatest.
SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS: A Lifetime of Memories from Striking Out The Babe to Teeing It Up with the President, by Elden Auker with Tom Keegan (Triumph Books) hardcover
Let's go to the silver screen, emblazoned before us is Clint Eastwood gritting out, " A man's got to know his limitations." Or hook up the CD and swing to The Who's, Who are you? Yet, perhaps journey into the forest meditating upon the adage: to thy own self be true. The aforementioned stream of consciousness comes from having just read one of the year's best biographies.
SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS is a "twofer". Baseball enthusiasts will revel with the lively inside stories Elden Auker tells of his pro ball days. But on another level, others will marvel at a life truly centered with the world and people around him. It's refreshing and inspirational to see how one successfully proceeds from hometown to The Show and onto Main Street.
From 1933 to 1942 Elden Auker tossed for the Tigers, Red Sox, & Browns. The submarine-style pitcher teamed with HOFers Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin. He competed squarely against Diamond legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Satchel Paige.
Auker candidly takes the reader back to the pre-World War II MLB days of SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS. His opening story deals with the Babe and a "sticky-finger" roommate. All details given. Road trip? The 130 game winner and two-time World Series participant fully recounts train life aboard the Tiger Special.
Yet, SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS goes beyond the Ballyard. Auker shares his life as a productive and creative business executive and relates his personal experiences with Presidents Ford, Reagan, and American celebrities like Joe Louis, Joe Kennedy, and Henry Ford.
SLEEPER CARS AND FLANNEL UNIFORMS is a great resource for the baseball historian, and a positive and highly uplifting read for us all.
BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH:
Baseball's Trailblazing General Manager for the Pirates, 1950-1955 by Andrew O'Toole
(McFarland, P.O. Box 611 Jefferson, NC 28640)
Small-market team woes, do they ever change? Let's look at the Steel City, a remodeled stadium, attendance under capacity, subpar players, minimum resources to get top-notch athletes, and standing in the division's lower ranks. It's not the 2001 Pittsburgh Pirates. Turn the clock back over five decades, and welcome, BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH.
Andrew O'Toole's BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH: Baseball's Trailblazing General Manager for the Pirates, 1950-1955, makes one wonder if Baseball's greatest business executive had not promoted a five year plan, would he had been at the Buccaneer helm with the 1960 World Series Champions. On November 3, 1950, Rickey came to the Iron City and boldly pronounced, "We're pointing to 1955!"
The Trailblazer who 'deseg' the majors, created the minor league farm system, brought airline travel to road games, had unabashedly sealed his fate.
This was not St. Louis, nor Brooklyn, BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH chronicles Rickey's unproductive tenure and sheds light on operational misjudgments. Author, O'Toole culled through the Branch Rickey Collection held at the Library of Congress and conducted interviews with Rickey contemporaries. For those who are spellbound by the business of baseball BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH will enthusiastically delight you. MLB is now talking about contraction, and team parity; this account will give you greater understanding. Part of Rickey's demise may have been failure of recognizing the true limitations of small-market teams.
One of Baseball's greatest figures yet no one until Andrew O'Toole has focused on BRANCH RICKEY IN PITTSBURGH.
Given today's economic concerns, if Rickey struck out it's necessary to review so at least others will not repeat the same.
THE HOT STOVE LEAGUE: Raking the embers of baseball's golden age by Lee Allen
Whether it's the advent of the grapefruit and cactus league, mid-july, or the post-season, all baseball fans should come in and settle down with Lee Allen's THE HOT STOVE LEAGUE.
First published in 1955 HOT STOVE should be in your sports library as it is a timeless classic. Allen made his mark as a weekly columnist for the bible of baseball, The Sporting News and as a key historian for the game's Vahalla, the Hall of Fame.
HOT STOVE will forcefully empower the reader to relate vivid stories of the diamond's notables and not so greats.
Baseball is timeless. Issues we think are current events can be traced back to the sport's infancy. The ball's juiced. Homers are ruining the game. Cities are stealing other town's squads. Allen write of these and other "new" subjects.
In 2001, USA TODAY rendered special report: the fight among Florida's hamlets to be spring training sites for MLB clubs. Think of that and then read in Hot Stove, Allen's hefty compendium of the original 16 teams various and ever switching spring camp locales.
Fannies in the seats? Hometown nines look for that special ethnic player to draw new fans. True now with NY Met "SHINJOMANIA" and true then. Read of John McGraw's search for a Jewish ballplayer to play the Polo Grounds.
STOVE is HOT today as it was nearly a half-century ago.
BASEBALL ROOTS: The Fascinating Birth of America's Game and the Amazing Players that were its Champions compiled by Ron McCulloch, (Warwick Publishing)
Got'em. Need'em. Flip ya for'em. Know these catchphrases? Many fans claim their formative years and trading card collections as the starting point for their love of the game. How many fondly remember those days of looking at our diamond heroes' images and intensely studying their stats? Ron McCulloch's BASEBALL ROOTS is like opening a fresh deck and finding that elusive Yankee. No, not Mickey, but the Babe.
McCulloch's work takes us to early baseball. "Happy Jack" Chesbro, "Colby Jack" Coombs, "Pebbly Jack" Glasscock are the hurlers. Key flycatchers are Tris Speaker, "Shoeles Joe" Jackson, or Harry Hooper. BASEBALL ROOTS' beauty is its format. The biographies with career statistics read like the back of a card. You will be drawn to peruse again and again. Even the photos will prompt you. I kept retruning to Hughie Jennings. Pictured on ROOTS cover, what occurred to get "Ee-Yah"'s fists up?
Curious about the hometown nine? BASEBALL ROOTS team history chapter is a crank's delight. Brooklyn Tip-Tops, New York Mutuals, Washington Nationals, well those are some of the day's heralded squads. But, how about those Cincinnati Porkers, Newark Peppers, or Rochester Hop Bitters?
Ron McCulloch wonderfully enlivens the Deadball era. Today it's Cal and Got Milk? Hall of Famer "Smiling Mickey" Welch success secret? Beer. Pure elixer of malt and hops Beats all the drugs and all the drops.
Start the game's first inning with BASEBALL ROOTS.
TED WILLIAMS: My Life in Pictures by Ted Williams with David Pietrusza,
There goes the game's greatest hitter. And here comes a superb illustrated compendium of his diamond career and life. Many baseball fans are well aware of Ted Williams' nubmers and legend. Last Major Leaguer to bat over .400. He garnered two Triple Crowns, four batting titles, and closed out his final plate appearance with a home run. Early on he set forth a singular goal. Williams achieved that athletic zenith. He wanted the clear notoriety of ...as the story goes...walking down the street and having passers-by say this review's opening sentence to one another.
Want to meet baseball writers?
In 1994 he opened his own "Hitters Hall of Fame" near his Hernando, Florida home. Author of four other books, including THE SCIENCE OF HITTING Williams has continually shared his batting knowledge with others. In 1969 his first season as the Washington Senators skipper he earned American League Manager of the Year. Williams received the award in large part by moving the club's offensive stats upward. In 1968, the team's batting average was .224 (dead last). They drew 454 walks and scored 124 home runs. With Teddy Ballgame at the helm the Nats' hit .251, walked 630 times and went downtown 148 occasions.
TED WILLIAMS: MY LIFE IN PICTURES beautifully portrays this American Hero. The only athlete enshrined in Cooperstown and the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Excellence in performance whether it be baseball, fishing, or aviation, Williams sets the standard by which others are measured.
With more than 250 images and his personal commentary we cruse from high school fields and minor league ball parks to Fenway. San Diego, Minneapolis, Boston, Washington, and Texas are some of the Flannels we see mixed in with uniformed service for America's safety in the throes of WWII and Korea. TED WILLIAMS: MY LIFE IN PICTURES bats a thousand.
Want to know the latest about Sports in the Courts?