April 24, 2014

A Book as “Terrific” as Its Subject

January 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Like the “The Little Engine that Could,” Tom Seaver began a steep climb saying “I think I can. I think I can.” Seaver’s mom, Betty, grafted the story into her son’s DNA by reading it to him as a child. Seaver always thought he could do whatever he set out to do, and usually he […]

A Real Dandy

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Juan Marichal won more games than anyone in the 1960s. That’s some accomplishment for the “Dominican Dandy” who began playing ball using branches for bats and socks wrapped around golf balls for baseballs. “We just loved the game so much that, as a kid, anywhere you saw other kids playing, you wanted to be there,” […]

Starting Something Great

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

When the Red Sox assembled their dream roster last offseason, many wrote them into the World Series without hesitation. We still don’t understand all that went wrong, but what we do know is that the “greatest team ever” label was not to be. Author Thomas J. Whalen argues that even the 2004 title winner did […]

In an Instant

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

What if you were known for one thing most of your life? What if that one thing was not favorable? That’s the story Ralph Branca tells in “A Moment in Time” with David Ritz. Read this book because: 1. Good or bad, baseball is one of life’s few constants. (Well, almost.) There’s nothing like the […]

Simple Pleasures

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, what better time to “take time for paradise”?  That’s the name of Bart Giamatti’s classic book from 1989. It was re-released earlier this year. If you are fond of nostalgia, take a look back at what the former baseball commissioner had to say. Read this book because: 1. It is […]

Consummate Captain

September 8, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

If Sandy Koufax is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, why not Don Mattingly? OK, OK, maybe that’s like comparing apples to oranges. How about Kirby Puckett vs. Don Mattingly? Take a look at this and more in “Donnie Baseball” by longtime journalist Mike Shalin. Read this book because: 1. Nobody worked harder than Mattingly. […]

“Pop” Paved the Way

September 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

If I were to ask you who were the best black baseball players, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston might readily come to mind. Chances are it would take you awhile to think of John Henry “Pop” Lloyd. You might never get there. In that case the list would be sorely lacking. Better pick […]

Here’s a Knuckle Sandwich

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With his next win, Tim Wakefield will earn the 200th victory of his career. What better time to read “Knuckler: My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch” by Tim Wakefield with Tony Massarotti? Read this book because: 1. Wakefield shares with you what few others know – how to throw the knuckleball. One umpire describes […]

Rickey was Right On

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In teaming with Jackie Robinson to break the color barrier, Branch Rickey helped make Barack Obama’s presidency possible. That’s one reason why Jimmy Breslin decided to write a biography on Rickey. One could surmise Rickey’s decision to team with Robinson was about morality. After all, he broke the news in a pulpit. In truth, this was […]

You Can Bank on It

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1967, Louis Armstrong recorded “What a Wonderful World.” Do you think Armstrong naturally believed that about everything? Most likely not, but he made a decision to view life with optimism. While Armstrong dazzled the jazz circuit, Ernie Banks shared a similar view on the baseball diamond. “Let’s play two,” Banks said. A combination of […]

Hunter or Hunted?

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Long before Pete Rose, there was Hal Chase. In “The Black Prince of Baseball: Hal Chase and the Mythology of the Game,” authors Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella examine whether Chase left an indelible black mark on baseball or whether the culture of baseball scourged Hal Chase. Read this book because: 1. Chase was one […]

Overbearing, Ostentatious and Odd

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Overbearing, ostentatious, odd. All three words could describe the way Charlie O. Finley operated. You won’t want to miss this week’s read, “Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball’s Super Showman” by G. Michael Green and Roger D. Lanius. Read this book because: 1. Charlie Finley did some good. Up until the end of his […]

“Nobody’s Perfect”

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Just one step away. One break. We all know the feeling. What separates us is what we do when the moment comes and what we have learned to prepare us. That’s what this week’s read, “Nobody’s Perfect,” is about. The “almost-perfect game” is merely part of the story. Read Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce’s story […]

Double No-No Equals Yes

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

As a high school pitcher growing up in small-town New Jersey, Johnny Vander Meer drew plenty of attention. Watching one of the young man’s starts, you never knew what you might see. “They never made a hit off me,” Vander Meer said. “They couldn’t. I walked them all. I could throw hard in those days, […]

Forerunner Foster

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Long before Muhammad Ali asserted that he was the greatest, Rube Foster staked that claim for himself and his teams. Foster, author Robert Charles Cottrell says, could be considered more influential than Jackie Robinson. Read “The Best Pitcher in Baseball: The Life of Rube Foster, Negro League Giant” because: 1. Foster consistently put the best […]

Culmination or Collapse?

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Oct. 2, 1978. Baseball fans readily cite it as the date one of the greatest games in history took place. True, it stands out amid the annals of one of sports’ greatest rivalries. It’s also true that a season hung in the balance. If only that was the end of it. Instead, Bill Reynolds writes, […]

The Game that Lasted Two Months

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

And you thought a D’Backs-Pirates game was long. How about the longest game in pro baseball history? The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings started their contest April 18, 1981. Eight hours later at 4:09 a.m. on April 19, umpires suspended the game. It resumed two months later. Dan Barry has all the […]

1920: Anything but Status Quo

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

All eyes stared at the Detroit Tigers dugout. If TV had existed in 1920, all of America would have been tuned in as well. Life began to blur in 1920. Some folks didn’t know what was what at the dawn of the Jazz Age, but baseball was baseball. Black or white, right or wrong, win […]

Get a Glove on “Catcher”

April 28, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Two-thousand ten was the “Year of the Pitcher.” Pitchers have almost always been paramount. But did you know there was a time when a hurler took a backseat to his backstop? Peter Morris details this post-Antebellum period in “Catcher: How the Man behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero.” Read this book because: 1. […]

Hank Did All Right

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Play!” “Don’t play!” It was enough to make Hank Greenberg’s head spin. You would think Greenberg’s Tigers were on some sort of barnstorming tour or beginning their exhibition slate. You would be wrong. This cloud of conflict swirled around the Tigers first baseman as Detroit and New York found themselves in […]

Lessons from a Legend

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the most compelling aspects of sports or reality television is that while they are simply games, life lessons are readily available. That is the premise of Lang Whitaker’s “In the Time of Bobby Cox.” A native Georgian turned New Yorker, Whitaker gives Cox credit for shaping many of his views. Read this book […]

Dreams Turned Nightmares

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1949, a 29-year-old Phillies first baseman was surging. Standing more than 6-feet tall, 175 lbs. and equipped with a pleasant disposition, he had the total package. Whether at the plate or in the field, he exuded cool. Former teammate Lennie Merullo said of Eddie Waitkus, “It was like his head actually rested on top […]

“Gorgeous George,” a Beauty

March 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Doling out compliments is not one of the first qualities that springs to mind when one thinks of Ty Cobb. Yet Cobb went way beyond that when he lauded George Sisler. Cobb called Sisler the “œnearest thing to a perfect ballplayer.” (5, Sizzler). Cobb didn’t exude praise, so there had to be a reason for […]

Fast Times at Crenshaw

March 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Several years ago, I read a book called “The Last Shot.” It is a basketball book, yes, but its narrative is strikingly similar to this week’s read, “The Ticket Out” by Michael Sokolove. Both books are wound in the stuff of cinema. By the climax, each story unravels into something far more raw. Read “The […]

Only a Friend Would Know

March 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Learned. The dictionary defines the adjective “learned” as “having much knowledge”; “acquired by experience.” Yep, I’d say 95 years of life qualified Elden Auker. This week, read the righty’s take on baseball’s biggest stars along with proud and humbling moments from his years around the game. “Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms“ by Elden Auker with […]

What was He Supposed to Do?

February 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Who knew a World Series could bring such pain? Fresh off toppling the rival Yankees in 1955, Dodgers Walter O’Malley could only rejoice for so long. Decisions loomed. Death, in a sense, was palpable. O’Malley staved off it off as long as he could. In “Forever Blue,” Pulitzer Prize winner Michael D’Antonio guides readers through […]

When Twelve Weren’t Enough

February 10, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

Where were you on the afternoon of April 17, 2010? That afternoon the Cardinals and Mets embarked on a 20-inning game that lasted close to seven hours. On the way to their 2-1 win, I wonder if anyone on the Mets had epiphanies of Harvey Haddix. Haddix pitched a perfect game for 12 innings in […]

Honig Gives Boost to All

February 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Sit down to watch “A Hall for Heroes,” “Baseball’s Golden Age,” “When It was a Game” or any number of other baseball programs. No doubt you will hear plenty from Donald Honig. Maybe you have delighted in one of 12 baseball books he has authored. This week, allow the man with plenty of baseball yarns […]

Talk about a Gathering!

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve all seen the photo. It’s the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Opening Day in 1939. Naturally, “The Sultan of Swat” sits in the center. Nine men, who may or may not have been Ruth’s equals but were without question baseball immortality, surround “The Babe.” “A Great Day in Cooperstown“ begins with this photo. My, oh […]

Baseball Cards as Life

January 20, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

This week, Josh Wilker puts a sweet and sour blend of nostalgia on to simmer in “Cardboard Gods.” All of us remember the ritual of opening a fresh pack of cards. This task could only be handled with held breath and a pair of rubber gloves to ensure corners remained perfect and legends’ faces un-fingerprinted. […]

Speaker Spoke Plenty Loud

January 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle. All four men bring to mind ideals you want in an outfielder. How about Tris Speaker? Speaker joined Cobb and Ruth on the membership roll when the Hall of Fame opened in 1939, yet not much is said or written about him. Speaker didn’t have Ruth’s power […]

Humdingers and Head Scratchers

January 6, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Why not start the new year with a jolt? From a man who mixes pot and pancakes, throws his own pitch (the Leephus), and has something to say about everything comes “Baseball Eccentrics.” Read Bill “Spaceman” Lee’s collection of anecdotes and one-liners because: 1. Lee presents his cast of characters as just that, men who […]

Under the Baseball Big Top

December 16, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Quick, look over there. You better not blink because you just might miss the best play you will ever see. For better than 40 years, that’s what folks came to expect when teams like the Indianapolis Clowns came to town. Think of the Harlem Globetrotters in their heyday. The Clowns might pull off some hijinks […]

From Bicycle Spokes to Back Rooms

December 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Only days before Thanksgiving this year, a news story hit the wire that a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner card brought in big money at auction.  That the Wagner card went for $262,900 is, of course, no surprise. Who that money went to transcended sport. A group of nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame in […]

Marvelous Mack

December 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Connie Mack, “The Tall Tactician”, Major League Baseball’s longest-tenured manager for 50 seasons with the Philadelphia A’s, employer of the $100,000 infield. If ever you wanted to discover something about Mack or the dawn of baseball, chances are you will find it in “Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball“ by Norman L. Macht. […]

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