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Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry: The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire
(University of Wisconsin Press, 155 pages)

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review

Al McGuire was a rough and tough New Yorker who grew up working in his parents’ saloon, went on to play basketball at St. John’s University, had a “cup of coffee” NBA career and then moved on to coaching at the NCAA level. His days of greatest glory were  at Marquette in Milwaukee where in 13 seasons he led his teams to 295-80 record, winning 81 straight home games.

“Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry: The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire” by Tom Kertscher (University of Wisconsin Press, 155 pages, is a tribute in words and pictures to the emotional coach who died too soon of leukemia in 2001.

The book’s title comes partially from a McGuire line: “My rule was I wouldn’t recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That’s not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk.” His world is vividly and interesting evoked in this book – a keeper especially for all basketball fans.

“Ballparks: Then and Now” by Eric Enders (Thunder Bay Press, 160 pages)  and “Take Me Out to the Ballparks” by Josh Leventhal (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 128 pages) in words and pictures, charts and stats provide a treasure chest of all kinds of information and insights as regards ballparks – major, minor, past and present.

The book by Enders takes a city by city look from Anaheim to Washington, D.C. of major league playing fields. The lifelong Dodger fan and baseball historian profiles each “field of dreams” with photos, narrative and boxed data. The Wrigley Field entry, for example, makes note of the fact that it opened on April 23,1914 and was known as Weegham Park (1914-1915), Cubs Park (19216-1925. A “Greatest Moment” is included for Wrigley and all the other field Enders looks at.

“Take Me Out to the Ballparks” is over-sized and odd sized. It is also more inclusive than “Ballparks: Then and Now.”  Leventhal includes hundreds of color photos and drawings, stats of each stadium, and in his phrase “hot dogs, mascots, scorecards and much more.” Each look at a ballpark also contains records and milestones, firsts, facts and figures. This is a book to keep for references and for browsing.

A scholarly look at one of the more infamous chapters in baseball history is “Saying It’s So: A Cultural History of the Black Sox Scandal” by Daniel A. Nathan (University of Illinois Press, 285 pages). As the author of “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,” I had a special interest in reading this book. It didn’t disappoint, surveying as it did, how the scandal was remembered by journalists, historians, filmmakers, novelists and baseball fans. My book was even accurately quoted.

For those with an interest in stats  - -“Leveling the Field” by G. Scott Thomas (Black Dog and Leventhal, 555 pages) and “he Complete Chicago Cubs” by Derek Gentile, an award winning reporter for the Berkshire Eagle (Black Dog and Leventhal, 687 pages) are a couple of books to read and then rest on your baseball bookshelf.  The latter has all manner of material related to the Cubbies and is a “must have” book for fans of the team. Leveling the Field is an encyclopedia of baseball’s all time great performances as revealed through adjusted statistics. So if you interested in comparison and contrasts as arrived at through computer-generated formulas – this is the book to own.

Southern Illinois Press has come out with re-issues of two old classics written by Frank Graham: “The Brooklyn Dodgers” and “The New York Yankees.”

The Dodger book was first published in 1945 and covers “Dem Bums” from 1883-1943. The Yankee book traces Bronx Bomber history from its beginnings in 1903 to the 1943 World Series. To read these books is to be placed in a time warp, but a lovely time warp.

“The Mental Game of Golf” by Patrick J. Cohn (Taylor, $16.95, 154 pages), new in paperback, is a reasoned and practical guide to help golfers gain total control of the mental challenges of the game.

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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