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"Negro League Baseball" and Other Reads

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review


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 institution." 

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 pages).

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.


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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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