"Negro League Baseball"
and Other Reads
Frommer on Sports
Talk about a book being a labor of love. "Negro League Baseball" by
Neil Lanctot (University of Pennsylvania Press, $34.95, 512 pages) is
all of that and more. A history prof at the University of Delwaware,
Lanctot replays in telling details lots of information that is already
well known and available in other sources. But he also sheds new light
on other events not so well known. The remarkable book is at once a work
of scholarship (576 endnotes covering 77 pages)and also a compelling
read about what the author calls "the Rise and Ruin of a Black
The integration of major league baseball did kill off the Negro Leagues,
but it wasn't as if that "Black institution" was a thriving and
warts-free enterprise. It did exist in a nether world, one created and
fed by segregation and racism.
Not quite in the same vein as "Negro League Baseball," but a book also
dealing with like matters among other issues is "Richie Allen, the '64
Phillies, and Racial Integration" William C. Kashatus $29.95, 280
Back in 1964 all seemed special for the Philadelphia Phillies. They were
ahead by 6 1/2 games with just 12 left to play, apparently having
clinched their first pennant in more than 10 years. Then they lost 10
straight and finished a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the
most incredible collapse of any club in major league baseball history.
Author Kashatus interviewed witnesses and participants in that debacle
obtaining from them chapter and verse and more on the breakdown, the
racial tensions that afflicted the team, the scapegoating of Richie
Allen, the franchise's first black superstar. Recommended.
From the University of Nebraska Press comes "Blackout" by Bill Lamb
($24.95, 226). The book is billed as the untold story of Jackie
Robinson's first spring training.
For those fans - and there are legions of them - who like to plan
vacations, business trips, or just leisure time around visiting major
league baseball stadium - -"The Ultimate Baseball Road - Trip" by Josh
Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell (Lyons Press, $22.95, 531 pages, paper) is
worth a read, a browse. It is a total guide to all one would need to
know about ball parks and the extended experience around them.
Just one more book in the growing proliferation of Yankee oriented tomes
is "Game of My Life" by Dave Buscema (Sports Publishing, $24.95, 250).
The book showcases 20 Yankee stories told by superstars and no so starry
types - from Tommy Henrich to Bucky Dent to Dave Righetti - the book
is awash in Yankee replays. Highly recommended for fans of the Bronx
Bombers. From the same publisher ushers forth: "John Starks, My Life"
with Dan Markowitz ($24.95, 232 pages), a look at the life and times of
the former NBA journeyman. Highly recommended for fans of the New York
Knicks, the team that gave the excitable athlete an identity. Or was it
the other way around.
A really interesting (and important) read is "Hey Rube" by Hunter S.
Thompson (Simon and Schuster, $23.00, 246 pages). A lot of sports, a lot
of political opinions, a lot of smoozing and observing about the state
of the world - "Hey Rube" is as its sub-title proclaims - - Blood
Sport, the Bush Doctrines, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness -Modern
History from the Sports Desk. Craziness and cogency intermingle.
"Diamonds in the Rough" by Joel Zoss and John Bowman (University of
Nebraksa Press, $19.95, 435 pages, paper) is a reprint of a work
originally published in 1989. Trivia meets consciousness raising data
about the national pastime. Great fun!
HIGHLY NOTABLE: "Fifty Place to Fly Fish Before You Die" by Chris
Santella (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.05, 224 pages) is a global tour
of the best of the best.
"Muhammad Ali" by Magnum Photographers (Abrams, $29.95, 160 pages) is a
book to buy and keep. Stunningly laid out with 150 photos, 50 in full
color, the changing style and substance of the legendary boxer is there
for all to survey and enjoy.
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
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.
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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.
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