Frommer on Sports
Harvey Frommerís Sports Book Reviews: From Legendary
Baseball to Stream Fishing
The variety and quality of
books on sports keeps on coming. Some are sac flies, others are bunt singles and
still others could be considered double, triples or home runs. You pay your
money and make your choice as to how you might classify the following lineup of
books for fall 2011.
With the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park looming in 2012, all manner of books
will be on the market to commemorate the occasion. Full disclosure, mine is
already out there: Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the
Home of Red Sox Nation.
Now on the shelves is Glen Stout's Fenway 1912 (HMH, $26.00, 391 pages). Stout's
work traces as its subtitle proclaims: "the Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship
Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year." For Sox fans, for baseball fans and
also history buffs, this terrific tome is a keeper. We are there amidst the
construction, in the dugout, in the dog days of a long ago Boston summer, in the
chill of autumn and the glory of brand new Fenway experiencing its first world
The busy Stout also is the Series Editor of The Best American Sports Stories (HMH,
$14.95, 350 pages, paper). Selected by Jane Leavy, the book features fiction and
nonfiction pieces from a variety of sources. This issue includes Selena Roberts,
David Dobbs, Sally Jenkins and others.
Another work that celebrates baseball's storied past is The Big Show by Charles
M. Conlon and Constance McCabe, (Abrams, $35.00, 198 pages). The book contains
the stunning photography of the famed Charles M. Conlon who was behind the
camera from 1904 to 1942. Prolific, driven and a baseball aficionado, he
concentrated his remarkable talents in the main creating revealing photographic
portraits of figures from that time.
We are there with Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Joe DiMaggio and so
many others, the famous and the not well-known. The book is graced by an
eloquent and insightful foreword from the great Roger Kahn.
For those of a certain age, "the shot heard round the world" still stays. It
certainly stays with Ralph Branca who, in his eighth big league season as a
Dodger pitcher on October 3, 1951, served up the pitch that Bobby Thomson
hammered. It resulted in doom and gloom in Brooklyn. It gave the Giants the
National League pennant. For fans of the team that played at the old Polo
Grounds, that was one of their most memorable baseball moments. It is an
oft-told story, one with many angles. A Moment in Time by Branca with David Ritz
(Scribner, $25.00, 233 pages) possesses no new baseball revelations, but it is
told in a sincere manner replaying what Brooklyn Dodgers fans called: "Dat Day."
Branca does reveal that his mother (who had 17 children) was born Jewish. She
converted to Catholicism. Now 85, Branca claims he only recently learned this.
"She never mentioned this to us," he writes, "but it may explain my
extraordinarily deep love of Jewish people."
The Orvis Guide to Small Stream Fishing by Tom Rosenbauer (Universe, Rizzoli,
$35.00, 208 pages) is a work aimed at a large but select readership audience.
Nevertheless, it also will appeal to the general public for the wealth of
information imparted by the author on fly fishing in small streams. At once a
guide, a beautiful picture book and a primer on the art and science of
small-stream fishing, this is the kind of book to savor.
Categories like "Reading the Water," "Care and Ethics," "A Philosophy of
Small-Stream Casting" and others are instructional as well as aesthetic.
So there you have it--five for the fall.