Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not just any day at the Ballpark

POW Baseball in World War II, The National Pastime behind Barbed Wire by Tim Wolter; 2002; 228 pages; McFarland & Company, Inc, Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 078641186-4; 1/28-1/30; Recommended by my Dad, Interlibrary loan from Phoenix Public Library.

What do Mickey Grasso, Augie Donatelli, Phil Marchildon and Bert Shepherd have in common?

They all appeared in major league games, three as players and one as an umpire.  They also were all POWs' during World War II as prisoners of the German Army. 

Tim Wolter takes a look at how baseball was played in Prison Camps during the war.  In Germany there were a lot of leagues and teams, some even receiving uniforms from the Red Cross and YMCA.  Some of the teams were extensive requiring double and triple headers to be played.  Prisoners in the European theatre had a better chance of playing baseball and surviving than there counterparts in the Pacific.  There seems to have been very little in the way of organized recreation in the Japanese camps.  The majority of the book concentrates on Europe, then Japan and then  the various places the Japanese held prisoners around the Pacific.  There is even a chapter on POWs' that the Americans held and tried to teach baseball. 
The book tries to take on too much and be globally comprehensive.  The section on baseball in Germany is very good as are the biographies of Grasso, et al.  The rest really doesn't contribute to the book, but was research the author had done, so it seemingly had to be included.  Grade C

Two different cultures

You Gotta Have Wa*, When Two Cultures Collide on the Baseball Diamond, *From the Japanese, meaning team spirit, unity, the ball club always comes first by Robert Whiting; 1989; 339 pages; Macmillian and Company, New York, NY; 0-02-627-661-5

In the days before Ichiro joined the major leagues the movement of baseball players was only one way.  Several American Major League players traveled to Japan to play baseball.  What they found was a game with the same basic rules but somehow completely different. They encountered practices that would put our military boot camps to shame in their intensity.  They encountered managers who spoke in the voice of God, owners who meddled more than George Steinbrenner thought about and umpires who had multiple strike zones (oh wait that’s the same).  Ties were commonplace, one did not charge a pitcher or argue with the umpires.  The game of baseball in Japan was completely different than in the USA, many of the players lasted a season or less.  Those that lasted longer, often were neglected and dishonored when they did extremely well.  Robert Whiting, who lives in Japan, gives an even handed account of what it was like for the gaijin in Japan.  He has since written a book about Ichiro and others coming to the USA which I am looking forward to reading. 

A Womens Place is at Home, right after she rounds third

Stolen Bases, Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball by Jennifer Ring; 2009; 200 pages; University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, IL; 978-0-252-03282-0; 9/17-9/23
Did you know there was a World Cup of Baseball in 2008 and Japan won it.  It started in 2004 and was won by the United States in 2004 and 2006.  The MVP in 2004 was Laura Brenneman of the USA and in 2006 it was Donna Mills of the USA and last year it was Kasumi Noguchi of Japan.  That’s right it’s women’s baseball.
Jennifer Ring has presented a conclusive case of how the game of baseball has been stolen from women twice.  Once when the game grew from rounders and girls were no longer allowed to play and again when softball became a ‘women’s’ game.  She provides ample evidence of how men have tried to make manliness the essence and have sissified softball.  However there are women making inroads.  She takes what could have been a very dry treatise on the subject and made it accesible and thoughtful.  I wonder who will be the first women to play professionally in the American Major Leagues and when it will be.  If you want more information on Womens’ baseball check out the American Women’s Baseball Federations site.  When a women makes it to the major leagues I hope all baseball fans will be there cheering her on.  I would like to see everyone who wants to play baseball be able to.  Jennifer Ring has opened my eyes.

Legging out a Single

Sermon on the Mound, Finding God at the Heart of the Game by Michael O’Connor; 2001; 180 pages; Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN; 0-7642-2395-X; 8/23-8/25 I first read this back in 2001 and had decided that I wanted to reread it.  Well when I picked it up this time I wasn’t quite as impressed.  When I first read it I would have said that the author hit a home run, but this time he just barely legged out a single. It is a spiritual autobiography and a big part of O’Connors life is baseball.  He came to a spiritual epiphany as the ball skipped through Billy Buckners legs in the 1986 World Series.  He uses baseball illustrations to illustrate spiritual truths and has quite a way of turning a phrase.

Images of Baseball

Baseball in Fort Wayne by Chad Gramling; 2007; 127 pages; Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC; 0-7385-4129-X; 6/27/09-6/28/09

This is one of a series called Images of Baseball, I reviewed a while back, Baseball in Portland. Chad Gramling who also writes the Baseball in Fort Wayne blog does an awesome job of chronicling baseball in Fort Wayne, IN in all it’s different forms.  The Kekiongas were the first team, so named for the Natives Americans that used to live in the area.  He effectively uses pictures taken over time to work with the text to chronicle the changes in baseball in Fort Wayne.  There seems to have always been baseball in some form in Fort Wayne since prior to the Civil War.  One of the most well known teams in Fort Wayne were the Daisies of the All American Girls Baseball League, which was immortalized in the movie A League of their Own.  I started following baseball in Fort Wayne when the Wizards became a farm club of the Padres, they have since changed their name to the Tincaps, but are still a Padres farm club, so it is a good place to find information on the Padres up and comers.

33 and a Champion

The 33 Year Old Rookie, How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After 11 years in the minors by Chris Coste; Foreword by John Kruk; 2008; 199 pages; Ballantine Books, New York, NY; 6/25/09-6/27/09 Chris Coste (pronounced Coast) finally caught his dream.  That was to make it to the major leagues, he chronicles the journey that led him to be a World Series Champion in 2008.  Any book that chronicles the brave knights journey to achieve or find requires a few things, a sidekick, a villian, a cast of supporting characters of all shapes and sizes.  Coste had all of those things as he made his way to the greatest show on dirt.  His Mom, Wife and Daughter fill the roles of Queen Mother, Queen and Princess as he strives towards his Holy Grail.  He journeys through a country of Junior Colleges, Independent Leagues, Minor League Affiliates of several teams.  His junior college coach, Smith, fills the role of villian who attempts to convince the knight that he is not worthy to wear the armor.  His fellow knights are the ballplayers that he meets during his journey constantly encouraging him.  The Wizards Simmy and Charlie Manuel guide him towards the Grail and then enable him to become a member of the round table.  Then in 2008 he and his fellow knights were awarded the Grail after slaying the Rays.  Coste writes well and communicates the emotions he felt at various stops along his journey.  His wife Marcia has to be one of the most understanding and supportive women in the history of the world.  I hope that Marcia and Chris are buying Casey all the toys they promised her she could have when Daddy made it to the big leagues. 

Yogi and Spaceman are the tip of the iceberg

Baseball Eccentrics, A Definitive Look at the Most Entertaining, Outrageous and Unforgettable Characters in the Game by Bill “Spaceman” Lee with Jim Prime; 2007; 206 pages; Triumph Books, Chicago, IL; 978-1-57243-953-5; 6/17/09-6/22/09

From Eddie Gaedel to Graig Nettles and everyone in between.  This is an entertaining look at some great ballplayers, some medicore and some lousy ballplayers who all have some sort of eccentrics.  From Mark Fidyrich to Ozzie Guillen, these are great stories of life among ballplayers, an inside look at the players.  I really enjoyed reading these stories.  It is a lot of funny stuff.
The Card, Collectors, Con Men and the True Story of History's Most Desired Baseball Card by Michael O'Keefe and Teri Thompson;  2007; 245 pages; William Morrow, New York, NY; 978-0-06-112392-4; 6/12/09-6/15/09

After reading Card Sharks and this one would have to wonder why anyone would collect baseball cards.  For the love of the game, and our teams, most of us don't collect for investment purposes, and I have my doubts about those who collect for investment.
I remember a lot of what transpired around the Gretzky purchase of the Wagner T206, it was when I was working at Baseball Cards and More and it was talked about by everyone.  Over the years I have heard rumors about the card, like about how it could be so pristine after 100 years and have such good corners.  O'Keefe and Thompson provide several different history lessons in this book.  A history of trading cards, a biography of Honus Wagner, a chronology of the card, and statements from many of those involved in the various sales.  Too many of the people involved the amount of money they spent and whether or not the card was cut from a sheet or whatever was less important than the prestige that went with ownership of the card. This is a well researched and documented history of a card that has almost become the Holy Grail of the hobby, even though there are cards that are rarer.

Why Safeco has a roof

Rain Check, Baseball in the Pacific Northwest, Edited by Mark Armour, Photos from the David Eskenazi Collection; 2006; 128 pages; The Society for American Baseball Research, Inc, Cleveland, OH; 1-933599-02-2; 4/27/09-4/30/09
My good friend Cammie Garcia gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas and I chose this book.  It is a series of articles about baseball in the Pacific Northwest, going back over 100 years to company teams in the late 1800’s.  The Pacific Coast League and it’s member teams are covered here as are some of the stars who came out of the NW.  I would have to have found articles about the Eugene Emeralds and the Portland Rosebuds.   Did you know Jimmie Claxton was the first African American to appear on a baseball card?  Jiggs Parrott was the first player born in the Northwest to play in the major leagues.  An entertaining look at baseball in the home of rain.

A hard time saying something nice

Card Sharks, How Upper Deck Turned a Child’s Hobby Into A High Stakes, Billion Dollar Business by Pete Williams; 1995; 278 pages; MacMillian Publishing, New York, NY; 002-629061-8; 3/26/09-4/2/09
For those of you who don’t know I collect baseball cards, I even have a blog about my autographed Padres collection at .  Also I worked at the two biggest baseball cards shop in Portland, from 1990-1997, during much of the time period covered in this box.
A couple of collectors wanted to come up with a way to prevent cards from being counterfeited.  So they started shopping the idea around and as it got bigger, the two inital collectors got pushed out.  And in came Richard McWilliam, who as portrayed here comes accross as a narcisstic, power hungry, tempermental despot.  The story of how Upper Deck got started is pretty amazing, how these two collectors took an idea to make a better card and it turned into a monster.  Upper Deck has increased the quality of cards throughout the market, but it has also fueled in an increase in investors taking over the hobby and looking for the hits, versus people collecting for the fun of it.  Most collectors still do it for fun, but the card companies don’t seem to think so as much of the product is aimed at the high rollers.  The business practices of Upper Deck in reprinting cards after their inital release were whispers I heard while working at the card shops, but this confirms those whispers.  I wouldn’t buy any Upper Deck stuff for investment purposes, but will buy cards of players I want.  Well written and well researched Mr. Williams is a must read for all of those who stocked up on UD back in the day.

Shades of Glory

Shades of Glory, The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball by Lawrence D. Hogan; 2006; 422 pages; National Geographic, Washington, D.C.; 0-7922-5306-x; 3/5/09-3/12/09
WOW!  That’s a lot of real cool information.  The story of African-American baseball from the US Civil War to the early sixties with a quick trip to the 1980’s and 2006.  There is so much history here that it is incredible, stories of barnstorming teams.  This is really interesting to me.  I love history and I love baseball, so to combine the 2 is awesome.  The authors place the game in social and economic context as they trace the history of the various teams and leagues.  If you think that there was just one Negro League you are way off, I thought there had been a couple of attempts, but didn’t realize the number of leagues spread throughout the country.  I have been doing research to find out more about a Negro League that existed for half a season in 1946 here on the west coast.  The team was owned by the great Olympic Hero, Jesse Owens and was called the Portland Rosebuds and played at the Vaughn Street Stadium when the Portland Beavers were on the road.  I would heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in baseball history.

Unwritten Rules of Baseball

The Code, Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein; 2008; Triumph Books, Chicago, IL; 240 pages; 978-1-60078-3; 2/8/09-2/11/09 Remember during the first OJ trial, when Marcia Clark or Johnny Cochran would ask for a sidebar, and they got to be a joke.  Well that is what this book suffers from is way too many sidebars, there are boxes with antecdotes everywhere, breaking the flow of the narrative.  Bernstein didn’t really write a book, he talked to a bunch of players and coaches about the different aspects of the code and then transcribed what they said.  He did some research and then cut and pasted it into book form.  I was looking forward to this but it was a real disappointment.  Some pages were nothing but sidebars, which I think should have been included in the narrative.  The book is choppy because of all the different ways it is broken up, chapters on stealing signs, on charging the mound, running up the lead and the like.  I think this could have been told in a chronological order, how things have changed over the years. 

A Hometown Hero

Mr. Red Sox, The Johnny Pesky Story by Bill Nowlin; 2004; Rounder Books, Cambridge, MA; 282 pages; 1-57940-0884; 1/18/06-1/21/09 I met Johnny a few years ago at a Oregon Active and Oldtimers Association dinner.  It is an organization that provides scholarships to up and coming Oregon ballplayers, and it also puts on a hell of a banquet.  I have heard Tommy Lasorda, Tom Treblehorn, Max Patkin and Johnny speak at the banquet and met Steve Wilson and Steve Olin among others.  Somewhere I have pictures, but who knows where.  I spoke to Johnnys’ brother Vince last summer at a Portland Beavers game, he had given a ball to the Beavers that was signed in the mid 30’s.
John Paveskovich was born in Portland, OR in 1919 the son of Croatin immigrants who grew up playing baseball near the Vaughn Street Stadium were the Portland Beavers had played for years, at least since 1903.  In his teen years he and his brother Vince became clubhouse boys for the Beavers.  They were assigned to the visiting clubhouse and spent some picking up after the Hollywood Stars and San Diego Padres.  Two of the many players they encountered were Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr who would later become Johnnys’ teammates.  Johnny played high school ball and semi pro ball, he played for a nearby lumber mill that was owned by Tom Yawkey, owner of the Red Sox.  One of his co-workers was Billy Grable, who later changed his first name to Clark and the rest as they say is history.  He was scouted by several teams, but his parents were most impressed by the Red Sox.  He signed with the Sox and played his way through the system making his major league debut in 1942.  He missed the next three years after joining the US Navy for WWII and returned in 1946.  He played into 1952 with the Red Sox before being traded to the Tigers for 2 and a half years.  After retiring he managed in the minors for the Tigers and Red Sox and was promoted to the majors again in 1963 as the Red Sox manager.  He managed for 1963 and ‘64 before being fired.  Ever since then he has been some kind of special assistant for the Red Sox.  He is starting to slow down some since he will turning 90 in September of this year.  This was an fun read of a real gentleman who loves baseball and enjoys every aspect of it.

Worth 365,000 Words

Grand Old Game:365 Days of Baseball, Rare and Unusual Images from the Archives of the National Baseball Hall of Fame by Joseph Wallace; Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, New York, NY; 365 pages; 0-8109-5594-6; 1/1/08-12/31/08 For Christmas of 2007 our good friend Cammi Garcia got me this great book of pictures from the Hall of the Fame.  Each day has a different picture from the early years of the wonderful game of baseball, each day I got up and started my day and looking at pictures of baseball.  There are some great and very unusual pictures.  Thanks Cammi!!

Merkle,Pesky and Buckner

Baseball and the Blame Game, Scapegoating in the Major Leagues by John Billheimer; 2007; McFarland & Company Publishers, Inc., Jefferson, NC; 216 pages; Inter-Library Loan from the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT; 11/12-11/15
A very thorough examination of why some players who make misplays or commit error are forever blamed for their mistakes and others aren’t. It examines why Fred Merkle shouldn’t be blamed for failing to touch second, why Steve Bartman, Bill Buckner and Mitch Williams should not have received death threats for the mistakes they made.  The author contends that a player likely to be remember for their mistakes if the play for an east coast team, if they are not a superstar, the play resulted in the lead being lost, if it was in the late innings and if it was a mental error.  Since the author  is a member of SABR there is a lot of math involved, complete with charts and graphs.  It was interesting to read and very enlightening about Ernie Lombardi, Johnny Pesky, and Fred Snodgrass among others.

I Know someone in the book

Blackball Tales, Rollicking, All New, True Adventures of the Negro Leagues by the Men who Lived and Loved Them by John B. Holway; 2008; Scorpio Books, Springfield, VA.; 225 pages; 978-159-526-7443; 11/2-11/4/08
I really wanted to read the last chapter first because it was a chapter on someone I have met.  This book is a wonderful collection of oral history by the men who played in the Negro Leagues, not the Jackie Robinsons, Satchel Paiges or Monte Irvin, but the players who just wanted to play baseball and the only way they could do so was to play in the Negro Leagues.  There are a few refrains repeated throughout, I wish I had been younger after Jackie broke the color line, we lived on buses, oh how I wanted to play, Willie Mays Dad was a better ballplayer, Piper Davis and Artie Wilson were the best double play combination and prejudice was actually worse in the North.
The final chapter is an interview with Artie Wilson, shortstop for the Birmingham Black Barons and the New York Giants.  He bounced around quite a while in the Pacific Coast League.  He was the last played to hit .400 in the Negro Leagues.  He roomed with Willie Mays while they were both playing in Birmingham, he toured with Satchel Paiges All Stars and played in several All Star Games.  He bought his first uniform as a kid for $2.98 with the money he made shining shoes for 2 cents a pair.  He lost part of the thumb on his throwing hand in an industrial accident and squeezed a golf ball all winter to strengthen his thumb.
My wife is a custom tailor and years ago she got a call from a African American woman whose last name was Wilson and lived in town.  I asked my wife to ask her if Artie was her husband, he was.  After that when R went over to meet with D to talk about sewing, I would go with her and talk to Artie.  It was a pleasure to hear him tell stories of Josh Gibson, Piper Davis, Cool Papa Bell, and Jackie Robinson among others.
Any well done book on baseball history is a winner in my opinion and this collection of oral history is a home run.

Why there was a color line.

Cap Anson, The Grand Old Man of Baseball by  David L. Fleitz; 2005; McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina; 338 pages; 0-7864-2238-6; 10/27-10/29/08
Adrian “Cap” Anson was the first player to have over 3,000 hits, hit over .300 21 times, played 27 seasons in the Major League, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and was instrumental in getting African-Americans banned from playing in the major leagues.
An excellent biography of one of the great ballplayers of the early years of organized baseball, who helped the game become what it is today.  Traces his life from the early days in Marshalltown, Ohio to fame and fortune in Chicago to a penniless ending.  During his life he was the man in major league baseball, he was the first superstar of the game, he predates Cobb, Ruth, and just barely Cy Young.  Things he did help mold baseball into what it is today, but part of his downfall was a reluctance to change from the “traditional” way of doing things.  He and his teammates refused to play against a team with Moses Fleetwood Walker on it, because Walker was African-American.  Because Anson took the stand, it emboldened many others to refuse to play against African-Americans which was why Jackie Robinson had to break the color line in 1947.  Ansons’ headstrong ways caused him to burn bridges with those in power in baseball and after he left baseball he tried to capitalize on his fame, but never found the venture.  He ended up penniless living with a daughter and son in law.

Lou Gehrig did not have a soul patch

The Ashes of Lou Gehrig and other Baseball Essays by Sean Peter Kirst; 2003; McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina; 230 pages; 0-7864-1578-9; 10/15-10/16/08
Sean Kirst is a columnist for a newspaper in Syracuse, New York and writes on a variety of subjects, collected here are a collection of his columns related to baseball.  The columns range from racism faced by Jackie Robinson when he was playing with Montreal, a retired bat maker, a young boy who got to meet Mickey Mantle, peoples’ reaction to Mantles death, and various characters related to Syracuse Chiefs baseball.  It is an exciting collection of great writing related to baseball, I would like to read other stuff that Kirst has written.  

We had fun, we had Seasons in the Sun

Moments in the Sun, Baseball’s Briefly Famous by Mark McGuire and Michael Sean Gormley; 1999; McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 239 pages; 0-7864-0549-X; 6/20-6/25
Disco Demolition Night, a World Series perfect game, a player killer by a pitch, a tater in play, a real player who became well known through a work of fiction and a one legged pitcher.
Brief biographical sketches of players who were famous (or infamous) for a brief time.  Their notoriety peaks again when something similar happens or on the anniversary of what happened.
There are several interesting players profiled here, but my favorite is Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, who was a real player made famous in Field of Dreams, either because of the movie or that it was Burt Lancaster’s final role.  It is interesting that the article the newspaper editor reads is the actual article that ran when Doc Graham died.
Anyone who likes baseball would enjoy this slim volume.

A Peer Review

Few and Chosen, Defining Negro Leagues Greatness, A Legend Ranks the Greatest Players of All Time by Monte Irvin with Phil Pepe; 2007; Triumph Books, Chicago, IL; 207 pages; 796.357 I72f/978-1-57243-855-2; 7/7-7/9/07
Monte Irvin ranks the Top 5 at each position in the Negro Leagues.  He knows what he is talking about as he played for 11 years for the Newark Eagles, then for the New York Giants and earns the Legend title as he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.   It is always a thrill for me to learn more about a subject I am interested in and this book answered some questions about players for me and listening to a legend who loves the game talk about it is also a treat.  I learned about more Portlands’ own Artie Wilson and why Irvin doesn’t think he stuck in the major leagues.  An excellent book for anyone who wants to learn more about those who paved the way for Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, David Ortiz and Fred Lewis.

Boomer-Straight Shooter

Perfect I’m Not, Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches, and Baseball by David Wells; 2003; William Morrow, New York; 414 pages; 796.357 W453p/0-06-050824-8; 6/18-6/24/07
I collect autographed cards of San Diego Padres players and I have sent David a bunch, even including sending him extras to keep if he will sign just one for me.  But I never get anything back from him.  All I want is one card of him in a Padres uniform signed.
Now to the book, an autobiography focusing mainly on baseball.  We get a look at where David came from, raised by a single mother and her Hell’s Angels friends, Wells found that he had a talent for pitching.  Once he gets signed this is a baseball book, but not a nasty book like Juiced, or even an expose like  Ball Four, but David’s story in pro baseball.  Some people he likes, some he doesn’t.  You can’t argue with him cause it’s just his experiences.  A straight shooter, with good insights.

Baseball is Poetry

“What did I tell you,” Buck said as the gallery burst into life around him. “People say baseball’s dead. Baseball doesn’t die. People die. Baseball lives on.” Buck O’Neil
The Soul of Baseball, A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neils America; by Joe Posnanski;2007; William Morrow, New York; 796.357 O583p/978-0-06085403-4; 6/2-6/6/07
Joe Posnanski, a sportswriter for the Kansas City Star, traveled with Buck O’Neil for the last year of Bucks’ life. Buck never met a day or a person that he couldn’t get along with. This book has some great poetry, haiku even, because that is almost the way Buck spoke. Bucks’ mission in life was to educate people around the country about Negro League Baseball and the players who made it great. He was one of the moving forces behind the foundation of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. He lobbied for the 17 people who were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, and then even though he was passed over he was the presenter and speaker for those 17. This book has more soul than 99% of the books on the market. If you love baseball this is for you.
Spalding’s World Tour, The Epic Adventure That Took Baseball Around The Globe-And Made It America’s Game by Mark Lamster; BBS Public Affairs, New York; 341 pages; 796.357 L241s/978-1-58648-311-1; 10/13-10/18/06
On October 20, 1888 Albert Spalding and twenty baseball players from the Chicago White Stockings and representatives of the other National League Teams left Chicago for a trip which would eventually take them around the world. The tour was originally scheduled to go to Australia and New Zealand to introduce them to baseball. Spalding knew before he left that the trip would go around the world, but didn’t tell the players until they were between Hawaii and Australia. The teams agreed with the proposal and they went on to Ceylon, India, Arabia, Egypt, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Ireland playing ball in the shadow of the pyramids among other landmarks. It was ostensibly about introducing baseball to the world but it was also about Spalding spread his sporting goods empire around the world. This record of the trip is well balanced presenting Spalding’s propaganda and the reality of the trip. It is an interesting addition to the history of baseball.

A View of the Outside from Inside

Negro Baseball…Before Integration by Effa Manley & Leon Hardwick; 1976; Adams Press, Chicago, IL; 128 pages; 4/20-4/24/06
An intriguing look at the Negro Baseball leagues by Effa Manley, who co-owned the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, with her husband Abe. Not concise, not chronological but insightful and interesting because of her viewpoint. This is more like a series of vignettes, highlights of her memories. A lot of the material I had just read because James Overmyer, quotes frequently and very liberally from this book. I enjoy reading books about this period in baseball and especially from an unique perspective. RRR
The picture is of Artie Wilson, who played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues. Ruth Ann sews for his wife and I have had the wonderful opportunity to go and listen to Artie talk of the old days.

Queen of the Negro Leagues

Queen of the Negro Leagues, Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles by James Overmyer; 1998 , The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, MD; 297 pages; 865.M325 094/1-57886-001-6; ILL from Cal State University Fullerton; 4/11-4/19/06
An un-everything biography of Effa Manley, co-owner of the Newark Eagles of the National Negro League in the 1930’s and 40’s. The author gives all the details of her life, but it is a drag to read. The author seems to have cut and pasted from various other works, so there is no consistent style. The account of Effa’s life is incredible, she married a man several years her senior and as co-owners of the baseball team she met with the other owners and made policy for her team. She ran the team while her husband was the public face of the team. She was the one who made sure that when integration took place that the major league teams paid the Negro league teams for signing their stars. For her contributions to the game of baseball she was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be the first women ever inducted into Cooperstown.

Coming to a Theatre Near You.

Moneyball, The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis; 2003; W.W. Norton & Company, New York; 288 pages; 796.357 L675m; 11/30-12/3/05
The Oakland A’s have an exciting new way to look at players and how to determine their ultimate value to the team. It is a radically different approach to evaluate players and to build a team. Over the years many statistical approaches have been used to determine which players were most valuable, Bill James and Voros McCracken challenged the conventional ways of thinking. Once he determined the validity of their theories, Oakland General Manager Billy Beane began to use these statistical measures and was able to build a winning team in a completely new way. Many cried foul and said it was the end of the beloved game as we know it. However the game had changed years ago and those responsible for running the game were decades behind. Michael Lewis has written an exciting account of a season behind the scences in baseball. If you want to know about the business of game of baseball as it is now, this is a great book.

A Wrestling Hall of Famer writes of a Baseball Hall of Famer

ScooterScooter by Mick Foley; 2005; Alfred A. Knopf, New York; 302 pages; Fiction Foley; 11/1-11/5/05
Mick Foley is good. He has written a tale of redemption and baseball. Rocky Balboa found redemption through boxing. Scooter Riley is part of a severly dysfunctional family. Foley writes a great story with baseball as a background. This is about baseball the same way Signs is about an alien invasion. Signs is about faith in my opinon, this book is about redemption and family. By the way some of you may have heard of Mick Foley, this is his second career, he used to be at the top of the World Wrestling Federation heap, he was champion as Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack. I really enjoy his writing. RRR


The Chrysanthemum and The Bat, Baseball Samurai Style by Robert Whiting; 1977; 247 pages; Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, NY; 0-396-07317-4спални; Interlibrary Library Loan from Bellingham Public Library; 11/6-11/11/09

This was the first inside look at baseball as played in Japan.  Robert Whiting has lived in Japan for years and is the only American who writes for one of the Japanese daily sports newspaper.  He shows how Japanese culture and the Samurai code of Bushido have changed the game of baseball in Japan, to be something than how we know the game.  He shows why it is difficult for Americans to really make an impact in Japan, no matter how well they do.  I should have read this before I read You Gotta Have Wa*, a lot of that built on what is here.  I am looking forward to reading more by Robert Whiting. I wonder how much has changed in the way the game is played in Japan in 32 years.

From Pitcher to Pastor

The Missing Cub by Darcy Fast with Jonathan Kravetz; 2007; 239 pages; xulon press, Lakewood, FL; 978-1-60477-277-7; bought from Amazon when researching Darcy for another post; 12/29-12/31 God gave Darcy Fast a gift and a calling, he eventually figured out that they weren’t compatible.  Darcy wanted to be a major league for as long as he could remember, he never wanted to be a minister like his Dad.  The Yankees drafted him out of High School in Lacey, WA, but he did not sign.  He did sign with the Cubs, when they agreed to pay his college tuition and let him play when school was out.  He played 8 games in 1968 and then his major league became as he said “snakebit”, problems with draft boards and schools and teams lead him to retire voluntarily at age 24.  He felt Gods’ calling and for the last 30 years has been a Pastor in Centralia, WA.  This was an interesting read for several reasons,  Darcy is featured on a 1972 Topps cards with the Padres, even though he never played for them after being traded to them from the Cubs, he went to college at little Warner Pacific College, which we use to live within walking distance of,  to how his life took such a big swerve.  Good reading.

Starting at Catcher, Albert Einstein

Coyote Moon, A Novel of Love, Baseball and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle by John A. Miller; 2003; Forge, New York; 302 pages; Fiction Miller/0-765-30627-1; 2/9-2/12/06
Reincarnation, the Oakland A’s, a unknown catcher and the Mojave dessert all come together in this tale of mystical realism. Henry Spencer comes out of nowhere to play for the A’s he knows things that he doesn’t know why he knows them. He, his Mexican significant other, a German engineer, a retired postal worker, and a New England physicist all come together on the edge of the Mojave dessert. It is a good book, but I just don’t know how to describe the story. The baseball action is good on the field and in the clubhouse.