A really enjoyable series of biographical vignettes of professional baseball players, spanning the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. If you're a fan of BA really enjoyable series of biographical vignettes of professional baseball players, spanning the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. If you're a fan of Bill James or Rob Neyer, you will really enjoy this work. Author Michael Lynch gives you enough numbers to understand what these guys accomplished on the field, but he's just as interested in the colorful details of their lives. Mike seems to gravitate to the bad boys; the troubled souls like Chris Brown and Shufflin' Phil Douglas who have added a lot of color to baseball's rich history. Highly recommended for any fan....more
Gilbert Ray Hodges (1924-1972) only spent 48 years on this earth, but he accomplished much in that short term: thWhat a great book about a great life.
Gilbert Ray Hodges (1924-1972) only spent 48 years on this earth, but he accomplished much in that short term: thirty months of service in the United States Marines during World War II, service that earned him the Bronze Star; a loving marriage of almost a quarter-century that produced four children; and a Hall of Fame career as a major league baseball player and manager. The fact that the institution in Cooperstown hasn’t recognized this man’s true stature yet does nothing to diminish the continuing affection and respect for Hodges that spans generations of fans.
Hodges is best remembered as the power-hitting, graceful fielding first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the Boys of Summer era; and as the manager of the Miracle Mets of 1969, among the most improbable champions ever. He also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mets and managed the Washington Senators before coming home.
I’ve read just about every book that’s been published about the Dodgers of this era and Hodges, and while each has its merits, Mort Zachter’s splendid book is distinguished by fluid writing and deep research. He tracked down people who knew Hodges in his youth in Indiana; who served with him in the Marines; and who played with, for and against him. The result is a portrait of great richness, and a thematic unity that focuses on the impact Hodges had on the lives of others. Zachter also provides just enough game action to tell the story of pivotal moments in his playing and managing careers without burying the reader in an avalanche of detail.
This book gave me a deeper appreciation of Hodges’ gifts as a manager. Not only was a far-seeing strategist, he was also a great psychologist and teacher. No wonder every player on those Miracle Mets, even those who didn’t get along with him very well, ultimately credited him with their success. Yet Hodges himself discounted his own contributions; not surprising for a man of high integrity and great modesty. He always preferred for others to be in the spotlight; that probably goes a long way to explain his absence from Cooperstown. Hopefully, the leadership there will see the error of their ways at some point and give him his due. Until then, fans who remember his glory days with the Dodgers and Mets have their memories, and younger generations can learn more about this underappreciated man whose time with us was too short, but whose presence abides. ...more