You’re a baseball fan. If I encouraged you to read a book by a player, you’d probably want to know what he’d done in his career. If I said he was a coYou’re a baseball fan. If I encouraged you to read a book by a player, you’d probably want to know what he’d done in his career. If I said he was a college star, spent several seasons in the minors but never made The Show, you’d probably ask what’s so special about the guy? Well, the first clue is the book’s title: Born Into Baseball. The author, Jim Campanis Jr. is true baseball royalty—son of former major league catcher Jimmy Campanis and grandson of former major league player and executive Al Campanis. The other thing that makes the book a great read is Campy’s love for the game, for having fun, and for life itself. It’s clear he reveled in the joy of playing the game, being part of a team, experiencing the ups and down of life on the road, dealing with umpires, fans, and all that went with the baseball life. Imagine yourself meeting a cheerful, funny guy at the neighborhood bar who can reel off one fun, interesting story after another. That’s “Born Into Baseball.” Read it if you love the game. You won’t be disappointed....more
Michael Lynch has another winner in the second installment of his series, “Baseball’s Untold History.” The focus of volume two is the World Series, anMichael Lynch has another winner in the second installment of his series, “Baseball’s Untold History.” The focus of volume two is the World Series, and he’s brought to the pages a nice variety of stories that highlight more than a century of baseball’s Fall Classic. Even casual fans, or those who, heaven forbid, don’t follow baseball at all the rest of the year seem to be drawn to the annual battle for supremacy between the National and American Leagues. One of the truisms of baseball is that anything can happen in a short series: great players fail and unknowns shine. Spectacular performances like perfect games and triple plays gain added luster. Mike’s deep research and engaging writing style bring it all to life in a book that will be enjoyed by any baseball fan. Highly recommended!...more
I recently read “Seven, The Mickey Mantle Novel” by Peter Goldenbock. Peter’s best known as the author of a number of sports related oral histories, sI recently read “Seven, The Mickey Mantle Novel” by Peter Goldenbock. Peter’s best known as the author of a number of sports related oral histories, so a novel was a bit of a departure for him. I started the book with curiosity and a bit of trepidation, given the mixed reviews it received at the time it was published in 2007. If you trusted the advance coverage and some of the reviews, you might have concluded that “Seven” was going to be a non-stop tale of Mickey’s sexcapades. Yes, there’s sex in here—a lot of it. But there’s so much more.
Goldenbock grew up as a Yankee fan, got to know Mantle and many of his Yankee contemporaries, and saw his youthful hero worship evolve into a mature appreciation for the greatness and tragedy of the boy who rose from the depths of poverty in rural Oklahoma to become one of the most beloved athletes of the twentieth century. He amassed a wealth of knowledge about Mantle’s life and legend, but realized that the line between the two was so burry that conventional biography wouldn’t do The Mick justice. He said, “Mickey had been inside of me for a long, long time, and I just had to let him out.”
The result is an imaginary telling of Mantle’s life story in the afterlife. Shortly after his arrival in Heaven, Mantle meets up with Leonard Schecter, Jim Bouton’s collaborator on “Ball Four,” and decides he’s found the man who can help him unlock the keys to his behavior, which sadly was often so destructive to himself and those he loved. This is a book full of sorrow and pain, but it’s also full of joy, humor and redemption. I finished it with a large lump in my throat when I reached the final pages and saw that Mickey was able to achieve the kind of reconciliation we all no doubt hope to know one day.
The Brooklyn Dodger bookshelf is a long one, crammed with histories, biographies, memoirs and novels, but David Krell has made a worthy addition withThe Brooklyn Dodger bookshelf is a long one, crammed with histories, biographies, memoirs and novels, but David Krell has made a worthy addition with “Our Bums.” The subtitle of his book clues the reader in to its focus: “The Brooklyn Dodgers in History, Memory and Popular Culture.” This is the story of the franchise beyond the field—the songwriters, playwrights and novelists who sought to capture their spirit and meaning; and the fans who cheered and sometimes jeered them, and whose hearts were broken when owner Walter O’Malley moved them to Los Angeles following the 1957 season.
Other defunct baseball franchises still have their followers, but none of those groups are as large and loyal as devotees of the Brooklyn Bums. Anyone who wants to understand the reasons why should pick up this book. For those who already know the Dodgers and their story, it’s still an essential read. These stories make clear that the bond between borough and team was something unparalleled in baseball history. Ebbets Field truly was the center of Brooklyn’s universe, and if we can never go there again, reading “Our Bums” is the next best thing.
It seems that the author has consulted just about every printed source on the Dodgers in existence, yet he’s resisted the temptation to produce a volume the size of a phone book. Instead, he’s mined that trove judiciously to select the very best nuggets. Krell also has a gift for a clever turn of phrase, which further adds to a reader’s pleasure as the pages speed by. Branch Rickey III provided the forward for this very enjoyable work, a winner from the first page to the last. ...more