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Just in Time - Interesting Baseball Reads

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review

"Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero" by Leigh Montville (Doubleday,  $26.95,528 pages) is a load of a book - tremendous detail. We hear from mayors, Harvard's athletic director, coaches, players, batboys, Williams's brother's son and an army of others all straining to recount the way Williams was.

Theodore Samuel Williams, alias "the Kid," "The Splendid Splinter," "Teddy Ballgame," is truly given the in depth treatment by Montville, an ex sports columnist at the Boston Globe.  If you truly need to know more about T. Williams - this book will not disappoint you.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So I guess as the author of "New York City Baseball: 1947-1957 The Last Golden Age," I should be elated to see "Summer in the City: New York Baseball, 1947-1957" by Vic Ziegel hitting the shelves. (Abrams, $35.00,192 pages). Unfortunately, this product has very little in the way of depth or original writing. It does have 189 photographs from the "New York Daily News" and some of them are terrific. The gang's all here - Casey, Newk Jackie, Duke, Willie, Monte, Scooter, Gil, Yogi, Whitey, etc. - so that makes it a special treat.  

Speaking of a product that trades off others - there is "Playing For Their Nation" by Steven R. Bullock (University of Nebraska Press, 183 pages). A very slim volume, actual text is 144 pages. The focus of the book is WWII and baseball. The topic was covered much more effectively by Bill Mead's "Baseball Goes to War" and Richard Goldstein's "Spartan Seasons."

In the same vein is "Jumpin' Jimmy - A World War II Baseball Saga" by Robert Skole (iUniverse, $13.95, 181 pages, paper). This is a real charmer, a tale told about American flyboys and Japanese submariners who battle it out in a Swedish World Series. Skole, a reporter and foreign correspondent, covered Sweden for McGraw-Hill business publications for many years and that is probably where this unique idea for a book germinated.  It is a delightful read.

"The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime" by Robert Whiting  (Warner Books, $25.95, 256 pages) is extraordinary. Whiting examines how Japanese baseball players are impacting and re-inventing America's major leagues.  Matsui...Nomo...Sasaki...Ichiro... have had real impact. In the 2003 All-Star game, two of the starting American League outfielders were from Japan. And for the third straight year, Ichiro-the fleet-footed Seattle Mariner-received more votes for the All-Star game than any other player in the game today. The book also recounts (among other things) the trials and tribulations of manager Bobby Valentine in Japanese baseball - - and he has gone back in 2004 for more.
"The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw"  by Michael Sokolove (Simon and Schuster, $24.95,  291 pages)  transcends sports. It is about the rare athlete that Darryl Strawberry was, about 1979, about the Crenshaw High School Cougars - perhaps the most gifted high school baseball team ever.

"On a warm afternoon in the spring of 1979, fifteen boys knelt in a semicircle on a baseball diamond that had been picked clean of pebbles, then obsessively raked and dragged to minimize bad hops." That is a sample of the Michael Sokolove prose- no bad hops there either. Inner city LA and the American dream - worth reading.
"Miracle Over Miami: How the 2003 Marlins shocked the World" by Dan Schlossberg with Kevin Baxter (Sports Publishing, $24.95,  250 pages) is about the team that came from nowhere to vanquish the New York Yankees and become world champions. On board in the book is Jeff Conine - the only Marlin to have been on the 1997 and 2003 title teams. The black and teal world is given the up close and personal treatment in a book  as winning as the team.

"The Memoirs of Bing Devine: Stealing Lou Brock and other Winning Moves" by Bing Devine with Tom Wheatley (Sports Publishing, $24.95, 184 pages) is a ranging retrospective of 65 years in pro baseball by a man who saw it all.  Born in St. Louis in 1916, Devine began as an office boy for the Cardinals in 1939 and moved all the way up the ranks to become team president. So he has a lot to talk about. Unfortunately, this book is a skim over of most things.   We get the headlines but not the depth. Recommended for die hard Cardinal fans!


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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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