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REACHING FOR THE STARS and other Baseball Reads

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review

The idea is so good that Ballantine Publishers should start a series. "Reaching for  the Stars" edited by Larry Freundlich ($25.95, 288 pages) is as its sub-title proclaims "A Celebration of Italian Americans in Major League Baseball. All the usual suspects are here - - LaSorda, Rizzuto, Billy Martin, DiMaggio (s), Berra, Lombardi, Piazza, Sal Maglie, Carl Furillo. . . . And some unusual types, too.  There are apologies for the omission of the original "Cookie Monster" Brooklyn favorite Cookie Lavagetto and former BoSox twirler Jerry Casale.  

An All Star writer lineup contributed to this effort: Ira Berkow on "Ping" Bodie, the first name big leaguer of Italian heritage, George Vecsey on Sal Maglie versus Carl Furillo, Wilfrid Sheed on the Yankee Clipper. Stats, photographs, sidebars amplify the interesting and varied text. And the man I call "Yogi Berra Everywhere" is here too --with his presentation of an All Time, All Star Italian American team.

Speaking of Lawrence Peter  - "I never realized I wanted to do a book like this" he says about his newest "Ten Rings" (William Morrow, $24.95, 240 pages). Written as usual with the able assistance of Dave Kaplan, Yogi cites chapter and verse of his ten championship Yankee seasons: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962.

This is a beautifully produced "feel good" book, no enemies here - lots of old stories, readable prose.  The special charm of the "Ten Rings" is Yogi's voice and much detail about Yankee happenings.  A prime example of this is his commentary on the 1962 season - his last ring. "The Yankees were getting younger, and I was getting older. A number of rookies - Tom Tresh, Joe Pepitone, Jim Bouton, Phil Linz - were getting the attention at spring training in Fort Lauderdale where we'd just moved after all those years in St. Pete over on the Gulf Coast."  

From the University of Nebraska Press comes four baseball books of special interest: "You've Got to Have Balls to Make It in This League" by Pam Postema and Gene Wojciechowski ($14.95, 256 pages, paper), "A History of Australian Baseball" by Joe Clark ($29.95, 187 pages, paper) "Ted Williams" by Michael Seidel ($19.95,  420 pages,paper) and "Small-Town Heroes by Hank Davis ($19.95, 373 pages, 113 photographs, paper).

The Postema book is the story of the most successful female umpire to date and makes for fascinating reading. Australian baseball's 125 year history as recounted by  Joe Clark is just another prism to view the world of sports through. And Seidel's take on the Splendid Splinter gives insights into the paradoxical and immensely talented former Red Sox superstar.  The best book of the lot is "Small Town Heroes." What life is like in selected minor league towns is one of its major themes.  This is a winning and excellent chronicle of life in Batavia, New York, Hickory, North Carolina, Elizabethtown, Tennessee and other towns off the beaten path. Davis, a professor of psychology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada has written a book for all lovers of the national pastime.

"The Year It Finally Happened by Julian Joff (iUniverse Press, $11.95, 119 pages, paper ) is a neat and rewarding novel focused on the Springfield Heroes, a team that last won the World Series 99 years ago. 

Now in paperback, "Baseball's Golden Age" by Neal McCabe and Constance McCabe (Abrams, $19.95, 198 pages, paper ) is a baseball book truly worth owning.  In incredible black and white, the photographs of Charles M. Conlon taken from the turn of the century to World War II are there for us to relish, savor, learn from.  Conlon was known as the first official photographer of baseball  - - the proof is in this book.   

If you like your baseball novels a bit wacky, a bit dark, a bit escapist - -go for "Screwball" by David Ferrell (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 307 pages, $23.95). The Boston Red Sox get a young pitcher (who hits) and throws more than 100 miles an hour but has an annoying habit of finding stringy old bald guys and cutting their heads off. No matter. Is this finally the way the "Curse of the Bambino" will be lifted. Read on.

Coming Soon: From Taylor Publishers "Amazing Mets Trivia" by Ross Adell and Ken Samelson.


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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. 
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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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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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