Now available: At long last I’m happy to announce the official release of my latest book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War. Support your local  local bookstore and tell your friends!

Merci.

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I looked at a lot of video clips when writing about the recent passing of John Mahoney, the actor who played Kid Gleason, manager of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, in the film version of Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out. I was specifically looking for the courtroom scene but couldn’t find it. I did find this short piece of Alec Baldwin on why people should watch the movie.

That was then, this is now. Still looking forward to seeing The Catcher Was A Spy, the cinematic adaption of Nicholas Dawidoff’s book. It received middling review from what I’ve seen so far.

Here’s Paul Rudd, who played the catcher Moe Berg, along with director Ben Lewin at Sundance, where the film premiered:

And their interview from The Hollywood Reporter:

Here’s one story from Tablet, a Jewish online magazine. And here are some reviews, mostly linked from Rotten Tomatoes (which gave is a score of just 54 percent): Variety; The Hollywood Reporter; Black Girls Nerds (!); The Film Stage; The Guardian; Cultured Vultures; Slash Film; Joblo.com; Uproxx; The Wrap; Collider; and RogerEbert.com.

Most of the critiques use words like “bland” and “dull.” I find it humorous actually: I wonder how many knew the story of Berg as well as baseball fans would. If they did, they might argue that Rudd’s appearance was most unlike the big, bulky, swarthy catcher. I don’t care; I’ll see it anyway. There aren’t too many films about baseball and the Venn diagram of films about Jews and baseball is even smaller.

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I’ve decided to bow to the times and include separate lists for e-books and audio books. Be aware that while many titles also appear in print versions, pretty much anyone can produce an e-book these days, so I’m not going to comment at all about the quality. As far as the audio goes, I’m a big fan of these, especially when the author is the reader, since who knows better how it should “sound” than the person who created it?

The other caveats remain the same, however: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

In addition, sometimes the list-makers will try to pull a fast one by including a book in a category to which it should not be listed. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles here.

Finally, adults only here. That is, no books for younger readers (although no erotic fiction that features baseball as a theme either. And goodness knows there are a bunch of those).

So, with all that said…

PRINTImage result for the mental game of baseball

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  3. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018, by Jode Pasapia
  6. The Baseball Drill Book (The Drill Book Series)
  7. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  8. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  9. The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, by Lawrence Ritter
  10. Baseball Prospectus Diamond Insights 2018

E-BOOK

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. The Life You Imagine, by Derek Jeter with Jack Curry
  3. I Never Had It Made, by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett
  4. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018
  5. Moneyball
  6. 2018 NFHS Baseball Rules Book
  7. The Bill James Handbook
  8. 99 Fantasy Baseball Player Debates, by Chris Welsh
  9. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  10. Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington

AUDIOBOOKS (out of the top 100 sports best-sellers. The links will take you to the Amazon page where you can listen to a sample of the book)

  1. Moneyball (Read by Scott Brick, #22 overall in sports)
  2. The Cubs Way (Read by the author, 64 overall)
  3. The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces from the Inside World of the Acclaimed Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager, by Ned Colleti (Read by the author, 67 overall)
  4. Ballplayer, By Chipper Jones (Read by Mark Deakins, 91 overall)
  5. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Mike Methany (Read by Mark Deakins, 97 overall)

The late H.A. Dorfman’s book is a perennial favorite of parents and coaches, I’m guessing. and Diamond Insights is a new entry from the library of Baseball Prospectus. Looking forward to giving it a try. On the surface, and judging by its table of contents, it seems similar to the Bill James Fool’s Gold series.

Once again, no baseball titles on the NY Times‘ list either for weekly or monthly.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ (duh) lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They DieToday: 1,081,795; last time: 1,547,210. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks 874,989 (last time: 1,067,092). By the way, this article from Sports Collectors Digest puts the Greenberg book at #10 on its list of best baseball books of 2017.

If you have read either of those books, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing an Amazon review; it’s never too late. (And thanks to those who have.) Doesn’t have to be long or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it. Although I would warn you to understand what it is you’re reading. My editor tells me I shouldn’t worry over bad reviews and normally I don’t. But one Greenberg reviewer complained because apparently he felt it wasn’t long enough and that it wasn’t a full biography. Sorry, but caveat emptor: The title clearly states this book covers just one season in his career. If you’re disappointed for that reason, then that’s on you.

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The first review copies of spring. Just arrived today.

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Too bad I didn’t know about this before. Could have started a GoFundMe campaign.

Beverly Hills home of Detroit Tigers great Hank Greenberg pulls in $7.75 million

Beverly Hills home of Detroit Tigers great Hank Greenberg pulls in $7.75 million

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Lest We Forget: Wally Moon

February 14, 2018 · 0 comments

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41Pz9Cc5zzL._BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

If ever there were a ballpark designed to assist a player, that would be the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Dodgers’ first home after the abandoned Brooklyn for Wally Moon. From the NY Times‘ obituary by Richard Goldstein:

Its dimensions were bizarrely suited for baseball. The wall behind right-center field was some 440 feet from home plate, but it was only 251 feet down the left-field line, where a 42-foot-tall screen had been erected.

Moon’s former Cardinal teammate Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters, suggested that Moon try an in-and-out swing that might send opposite-field pops over the screen.

Moon took his advice. He hit 14 of his 19 homers in 1959 at the Coliseum. That year he also batted .302; led the National League in triples, with 11; stole 15 bases; and finished fourth in balloting for most valuable player.

Moon, who made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals and played with them for five seasons before moving on to the Dodgers for seven, died Feb, 2 at the age of 87.

He published his memoirs, appropriately titled: Moon Shots: Reflections on a Baseball Life in 2010.

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A new year, a new look for the BBS list.

I’ve decided to bow to the times and include separate lists for e-books and audio books. Be aware that while many titles also appear in print versions, pretty much anyone can produce an e-book these days, so I’m not going to comment at all about the quality. As far as the audio goes, I’m a big fan of these, especially when the author is the reader, since who knows better how it should “sound” than the person who created it?

The other caveats remain the same, however: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

In addition, sometimes the list-makers will try to pull a fast one by including a book in a category to which it should not be listed. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles here.

Finally, adults only here. That is, no books for younger readers (although no erotic fiction that features baseball as a theme either. And goodness knows there are a bunch of those).

So, with all that said…

PRINT

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics
  3. Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  4. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  5. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018, by Jode Pasapia
  6. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  7. Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball, by Keith Law
  8. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  9. Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton
  10. The Baseball Drill Book (The Drill Book Series)

E-BOOK

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018
  3. Moneyball
  4. 99 Fantasy Baseball Player Debates, by Chris Welsh
  5. 2018 NFHS Baseball Rules Book
  6. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster
  7. I Never Had It Made, by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett
  8. Saving Babe Ruth, by Tom Swyers
  9. The Catcher Was a Spy, by Nicholas Dawidoff
  10. Smart Baseball, by Keith Law

AUDIOBOOKS (out of the top 100 sports best-sellers. The links will take you to the Amazon page where you can listen to a sample of the book)

  1. Moneyball (Read by Scott Brick; the top baseball audiobook and #18 overall in sports)
  2. Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages, by David Ross (Read by Gregory Abbey, 52 overall)
  3. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Mike Methany (Read by Mark Deakins, 61 overall)
  4. Ballplayer (Read by Mark Deakins, 64 overall)
  5. The Cubs Way (Read by the author, 93 overall)
  6. Smart Baseball (Read by Michael Chamberlain, 99 overall)

 

Basically a repeat of last week’s list.

Once again, no baseball titles on the NY Times‘ list either for weekly or monthly.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ (duh) lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They DieToday: 1,,547,210; last time: 1,523,540. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks1,067,092 (last time: 850,036). By the way, this article from Sports Collectors Digest puts the Greenberg book at #10 on its list of best baseball books of 2017.

If you have read either of those books, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing an Amazon review; it’s never too late. (And thanks to those who have.) Doesn’t have to be long or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it. Although I would warn you to understand what it is you’re reading. My editor tells me I shouldn’t worry over bad reviews and normally I don’t. But one Greenberg reviewer complained because apparently he felt it wasn’t long enough and that it wasn’t a full biography. Sorry, but caveat emptor: The title clearly states this book covers just one season in his career. If you’re disappointed for that reason, then that’s on you.

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Ron Fairly was one of the first baseball cards I can remember finding when I started collecting. He was a pretty fair (sorry) player for the LA Dodgers for a dozen years back in the late 50s to late 60s, followed by six seasons with the Montreal Expos before bouncing around with the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland As, and California Angels. Over 21 years, Fairly — also a pretty good hand with the glove at first base — had a slash line of .266/.260/.408 with 215 home runs, and 1,044 RBIs. He then went on to a successful career as an announcer.

Fairly, 79, has just released his memoirs, Fairly at Bat: My 50 years in baseball, from the batter’s box to the broadcast booth, written with journalist Steven Springer. Haven’t read it yet, but since it’s from my own “golden age,” I’m looking forward to it, especially reading about his days in Montreal, my ancestral manse.

 

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Hardly a comparison, but there’s word that a new biopic on the life of Roberto Clemente is in the works, having found a director.

The rights to film, purchased by Legendary — which has released such hits as Interstellar, Kong: Skull Island, and Unbroken, as well as the forthcoming Skyscraper and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — acquired the rights to David Maraniss’ 2006 book, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero. And according to Variety.com, “Legendary has already seen success in this genre, having successfully launched the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 to box office and critical success, and hopes for similar results with this film.”

According to TheHollywoodReporter.com, the as-yet-unnamed project will be directed by Ezra Edelman, who won an Oscar and an Emmy for the documentary O.J.: Made in America.

No date has been set for shooting schedule or release

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The veteran actor, perhaps best known for his role as Martin Crane, the father on Fraiser, died on Feb. 4 at the age of 78.

Mahoney was one of those character actors you always recognize but rarely remember the name. To me, his greatest turn as as Chicago White Sox manager Kid Gleason in the 1988 feature film Eight Men Out. (Here’s the trailer. And here’s 25 things you didn’t know about the movie.)

Mahoney’s best scene came in the courtroom in which he defends his players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, but I couldn’t find that clip.

 

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A new year, a new look for the BBS list.

I’ve decided to bow to the times and include separate lists for e-books and audio books. Be aware that while many titles also appear in print versions, pretty much anyone can produce an e-book these days, so I’m not going to comment at all about the quality. As far as the audio goes, I’m a big fan of these, especially when the author is the reader, since who knows better how it should “sound” than the person who created it?

The other caveats remain the same, however: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

In addition, sometimes the list-makers will try to pull a fast one by including a book in a category to which it should not be listed. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way,” which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles here.

Finally, adults only here. That is, no books for younger readers (although no erotic fiction that features baseball as a theme either. And goodness knows there are a bunch of those).

So, with all that said…

PRINT

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  4. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018, by
  5. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics
  6. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  7. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  8. Baseball America 2018 Almanac
  9. Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton
  10. The Baseball Drill Book (The Drill Book Series)

E-BOOK

  1. Moneyball
  2. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2018
  3. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  4. 2018 NFHS Baseball Rules Book
  5. The Extra 2 %, by Jonah Keri
  6. Saving Babe Ruth, by Tom Swyers
  7. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster
  8. The Bill James Handbook 2018
  9. Smart Baseball, by Kewith Law
  10. Ballplayer

AUDIOBOOKS (out of the top 100 sports best-sellers. The links will take you to the Amazon page where you can listen to a sample of the book)

  1. Moneyball (Read by Scott Brick; the top baseball audiobook and #20 overall in sports)
  2. The Cubs Way (Read by the author, 73 overall)
  3. Papi: My Story (Read by Peter Larkin, 93 overall)
  4. Smart Baseball (Read by Michael Chamberlain, 94 overall)

Now that we’re headed into the season, expect to see Williams’ TSOH on the list regularly, as well as the Dorfman books on mental preparation for the game and some other instructionals like the Drill Book.

Isn’t it funny how quickly titles about the Houston Astros have dropped off the list, while books about the Cubs still show up?

Once again, no baseball titles on the NY Times‘ list either for weekly or monthly. In last Sunday’s Book Review section, the Times published this interview with Robert Coover, author of The Universal Baseball Association, a staple in the list of favorite baseball novels.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ (duh) lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They DieToday: 1,523,540; last time:1,483,121. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks 850,036 (last time: 422,538). By the way, this article from Sports Collectors Digest puts the Greenberg book at #10 on its list of best baseball books of 2017.

If you have read either of those books, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing an Amazon review; it’s never too late. (And thanks to those who have.) Doesn’t have to be long or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it. Although I would warn you to understand what it is you’re reading. My editor tells me I shouldn’t worry over bad reviews and normally I don’t. But one Greenberg reviewer complained because apparently he felt it wasn’t long enough and that it wasn’t a full biography. Sorry, but caveat emptor: The title clearly states this book covers just one season in his career. If you’re disappointed for that reason, then that’s on you.

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It’s unfortunate, but I’m betting the obituaries for Oscar Gamble will lead off with something noting the huge Afro he sported in his latter player days.

The 17-year veteran, who put in service with seven teams, died today at the age of 68.

In addition to having MVP hair, Gamble — who played for the Cubs, Indians, Yankees, Padres, White Sox, Rangers, and Phillies — was a pretty fair player. He finished with an even 200 home runs, a devilish 666 RBIs, and a .265/.356/.454 stroke line. His best season came with the Sox in  1977 when he stroke 31 home runs and drove in 83.

Veteran baseball writer Marty Appel posted the following tribute on Facebook, which is reprinted with Marty’s blessing:

Saddened today to learn of the passing of old friend OSCAR GAMBLE (red shirt in photo). We were forever “linked” by his famous haircut, the story of which follows….

The Yankees got Oscar from Cleveland during the winter of 1975-76. He was famous for his really big Afro while with the Indians, but the Yankees had a strict haircut policy and it would have to go.

So one fine Sunday morning I was in my room at the Ft. Lauderdale Inn on Federal Highway, when my phone rang. It was team President Gabe Paul, telling me that he just saw Oscar arrive from his window “and his hair is still all bushied up.” And he said, “You have to arrange to get it cut – today.”

I was the PR Director. “Why me?” I asked. “Because if he shows up to workout like that tomorrow, we won’t issue him a uniform. He’ll file a grievance, we’ll lose the grievance, and the whole policy will be gone. It will be a huge PR problem.”

Oh boy.

So my Sunday plans would be changed. There was, in this nondescript Florida motel, a barber shop in the lobby (closed Sunday). I asked the manager for the barber’s home number and persuaded him to come in for this special assignment. For $40, he agreed — but now I had to get Oscar!

I had only met Oscar once and didn’t think he’d remember me. I knocked on his door with more than a little hesitancy, re-introduced myself, and explained the situation. I told him the barber had agreed to come in on a Sunday.

To my everlasting relief and delight, Oscar was fine with the arrangement. For added support, I asked Ellie Howard (coach and Yankee great) to sit in with us at the barber. I did not alert media, thinking that might be a turn-off for Oscar.

So around 2 pm the barber arrived. I said, “Thanks for coming in and by the way, have you ever cut a black man’s hair before?” The answer was no. “Geeez, don’t tell him that,” I said.

The haircut proceeded and guess what – Oscar liked it! He had a big smile and it seemed like he couldn’t wait to show his new teammates.

And from that point on, we were pals. He was a wonderful guy to be around. We even reunited a few years ago at Fantasy Camp where I interviewed him for Yankees.com (Yankees on Demand) and we relived the whole day.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo done at the barber, but “before and after” pictures ran across the nation the next day after he showed up for his first workout.

I’m also sorry that I didn’t save a copy of my expense report for that week, which showed the $40 haircut.

Rest in peace, my friend…….one of the most likable guys in the game.

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So do I have to get rid of my Fleer logo stickers now?

"Ripped from today's headlines..."

You may have heard that the Cleveland Indians will “retire” their Chief Wahoo logo, effective in 2019. Why are they waiting that long? One guess. Quelle surprise. Don’t you think the Indians want to give their fans the opportunity to gather up  the”collectibles” as possible? So what am I to do with these then?  

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My (fantasy) Q&A with Sandy Koufax

Uncategorized

I think I speak for a lot of Jewish fans when I say it would be Sandy Koufax. These are some of the questions I would ask, assuming he was bound to answer honestly and not just sit there sipping his wine. What was really behind the decision not to play in the first game […]

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The first harbingers of spring — UPDATE

"Annuals"

If you’ve been following the blog for at least a couple of years, you know I take great pleasure around this time because this is when the baseball magazines hit the stores. But like any person my age, I think things were better “back in the day.” Thanks to 24/7 spots media, the idea of […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, January 26, 2018

"Annuals"

A new year, a new look for the BBS list. I’ve decided to bow to the times and include separate lists for e-books and audio books. Be aware that while many titles also appear in print versions, pretty much anyone can produce an e-book these days, so I’m not going to comment at all about […]

Read the full article →

Here’s to the winners, but…

2017 Title

Congrats to the newest members of the Hall of Fame: Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome. As the headline from the article posted on the Hall’s official website says, let them savor the moment. Jones, who spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves (and most of those torturing my Mets), came […]

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Stengel bio wins CASEY Award

2017 Title

Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character by veteran baseball publicist and author Marty Appel has been named recipient of Spitball Magazine’s coveted CASEY Award. From Spitball’s press release: In garnering one first-place vote and two second-place votes, Mr. Appel received the clear approbation of the Judges, handily outdistancing the runner-up by four points. Judge Al Turnbull […]

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Bits and Pieces, January 16, 2018

2017 Title

Here’s an interview with one of my favorites: Dan Epstein with Clayton Trutor of the Down the Drive blog. From the Chester County Press, “Steve Potter recently released his book, “2nd Annual Phillies Minor League Digest: A Fan’s View” as a recap to the 2017 minor league season. The book includes team review of each […]

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Lest we forget: Martin Luther King

Baseball integration

Previous entries to the Bookshelf on Dr. King include this piece on his baseball connections. And another here. And this one, titled “Baseball and Dr. King.” Two books published in 2017  — The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age and One Nation Under Baseball: How the […]

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Lest We Forget: Doug Harvey

2014 title

The legendary umpire, who did not lack for self-assurance, passed away Saturday at the age of 87. Doug Harvey, who had been in failing health for a few years, published They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived with veteran baseball journalist Peter Golenbock in 2014. I reviewed that one, along with Al […]

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