Frommer on Sports
Jonathan Eig's "Opening Day" and Other Fine Reads
April 15, 2007 marks the 60th anniversary of the
breaking of the color line by Jackie Robinson (and Branch
Rickey). And rightly so Major League baseball and book
publishers have taken note of the significance of the time with
activities and new publications.
"Opening Day" by Jonathan Eig (Simon and Schuster, $26.00, 323
pages) is the best of the lot as it explodes myths, creates new
awareness, spins an almost hypnotic narrative arc from its first
"April 10, 1947, The telephone rang like an alarm, waking Jackie
Robinson from a deep sleep" and its last page "...Given a chance
to change the world, he never hesitated, He played hard and won.
After that it was a whole new ball game."
Reading "Opening Day" we are transported back to
another time, another place, another world by a master
story-teller. Buy this book!
"Branch Rickey, Baseball Revolutionary" by Lee
Lowenfish (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95, 686 pages) is a
mother lode of info about the man who along with Jackie Robinson
broke baseball's color line. Lowenfish has done his homework
here and it shows. We are with the man they called "the
Mahatma" from cradle to grave. Scholarly, broad in its reach,
this is the definitive book on the subject. A couple of small
carps - the book is a bit pricey and also a bit repetitious.
Scott Simon of NPR fame gives us "Jackie Robinson and the
Integration of Baseball" (Wiley, $12.95, 168 pages, paper).
Originally published in 2002, this is one of those brought out
as timely reading as the headline on its cover says:
"Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Baseball's Integration."
For Red Sox fans especially - - a nice trip back in a kind of
time machine is "Under a Grapefruit Sun" by Dan Valenti
(Rounder, $27.95, 144 pages). This is a collection of photos and
interviews and perception from the early 1980s when Valenti
covered the Red Sox in spring training. This is a charming and
enjoyable book, a look at much younger versions of Ted Williams,
Roger Clemens, Yaz, Boggs and more.
Highly Notable: "The Voice: Mel Allen's Untold
Story" by Curt Smith (Globe Pequot Press, $24. 956, 304 pages)
is a book that belongs on your shelf. Detailed, definitive,
dramatic - it is a splendid bio of the Hall of Fame Yankee
broadcaster and "This Week in Baseball" superstar. Smith
thankfully explodes some of the nasty myths about the man who
was born in Alabama to Russian immigrants Anna Leibowitz and
Julius Allen Israel. A lot of those genes went into the making
of this man who had an impact on so many (Yankee) baseball fans.
How about that!
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