Hank Aaron and the Home Run
That Changed America and Other Sports Reads
Frommer on Sports
A great deal has happened to the United States
and to baseball since that day of April 8, 1974 when Henry Aaron broke
the career home run record of George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Tom Stanton's
"Hank Aaron and the Home run That Changed America" (William Morrow,
$23.95, 249 pages) brings back the time in simple sentenced syntax.
The book contains a story oft told, but Stanton's meticulous research
underscores many items and events worth reading about again: that Aaron
was so threatened with assassination threats that he wound up being the
most guarded player in the history of baseball, that Willie Mays
couldn't bear the thought of his friend (and rival) breaking Ruth's
record - a record many thought Mays would shatter, that the historic
714th and 715th home runs slammed by Aaron were "called shots."
The world of the Vietnam War cycling down, of Roe v. Wade, of Watergate
all form a backdrop to the deeds of the man they called "the Hammer," a
black man going for broke against the long standing record of a white
baseball icon. Not surprisingly, the lead player in this next book
under review is Henry Louis Aaron.
For those who like their books with lots of color pictures there is "Big
Stix" by Rob Rains (Sports Publishing, $24.95, 160 pages) This book
should stir some mild controversy, ranking as it does, the Rains vision
of the top 25 hitters in baseball history. Hank Aaron is number one and
Eddie Collins is Number 25. To get the rest of the rankings, you will
have to get the book.
"Growing Up With Baseball" edited by Gary Land (University of Nebraska
Press, $25.00, 194 pages ) has a whopping high price for so little text
of significance. Land, a professor at Andrews University, rounded up
more than 15 academic contributors. They wax with much banality on how
they "grew into a love and interest in baseball." The entries are
uneven and in need of editing.
With the Olympics upon us and all those commercials - - take a break
and read: "The Ancient Olympics" by Nigel Spivey (Oxford University
Press, $28.00, 273 pages). It is a primer on what once was including
naked men working out at the gymnasium, rooms for bathing and
socializing; and opportunities for sexual excitement. . . .
From Taylor trade comes "Godzilla Takes the Bronx" by Jerry Beach
($24.95, 243 pages). This is an insightful and interesting look at the
Yankee outfielder's first season in pinstripes. "Broadcast Rites and
Sites: I Heard It on the Radio with the Boston Red Sox" by Joe
Castiglione with Douglas B. Lyons is a must read for fans of the sad
sack Red Sox. The work is rich in anecdotes, as one would expect from a
man who has spent so many decades behind the mike.
# # #
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
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in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
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