His name might not be as familiar as David Halberstam or Roger Angell or Lawrence Ritter, but in the baseball book world, Hollander was an annual companion. He produced a staple of fans’ libraries

From the obituary in today’s New York Times:

a journeyman journalist who rebounded from the merger of his newspaper in the mid-1960s by becoming what Sports Illustrated called “the unofficial king of sports paperbacks” — particularly a once wildly popular series of encyclopedic yearbooks — died on Friday in a nursing home in Manhattan. He was 91.

As the obit points out, Hollander compiled these books all before the popularity of the internet, as the subject of this Times’ piece from last August.

I have several of Hollander’s baseball titles in the attic. Along with Who’s Who in Baseball, Street & Smith, and the Baseball Digest March (Rookies) and April (Stats and rosters) issues, his incarnations Handbooks were a harbinger of a new and fun-filled season.

It’s a pity that they don’t make ‘em like that anymore. His importance to sports culture is evidenced by this lengthy tribute in the Times.

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First of all, congratulations to Linda P. of Lindenhurst, IL, winner of last week’s book, Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76, by Dan Epstein. Thank you all for your comments.

http://graphics.ink19.com/magazine/printReviews/012/012502-downToLastPitchCover.jpegThis week’s offering is the brand-spankin’ new Down to the Last Pitch: How the 1991 Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves Gave Us the Best World Series of All Time, by Tim Wendel. Who knows, maybe one day one of these books will make it into a revised edition of 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die.

A reminder about the rules:

  1. The fifth person to post a comment on the sitenot as a “like” or comment on Facebook (although that’s greatly appreciated) or any other social media or via e-mail — wins. Comments do not have to pertain to the particular post you are currently reading but they do have to be related to the overall scope of the blog, please; no “My team’s great, your team sucks” nonsense. Y’all have been good about that. Keep it up.
  2. If you’ve won a book in the last three months — and you’ll know who you are — you can’t win again. Share the wealth. That doesn’t mean you can’t comment, though. Please do.
  3. Not mandatory, but I would appreciate the winners taking a picture of him- or herself with their giftee so I can post it on the blog. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
  4. That’s it. Simple enough, no?

Have at it.

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Al Clar, right, with Dan SchlossbergFeast or famine: we haven’t had a book written by a real umpire in how many years? Bruce Weber’s As They See ‘Em doesn’t count because he was an embedded journalist working on a project. This year we have two: Doug Harvey’s They Called Me God, and Al Clark’s Called Out but Safe.

Clark, an American League ump from 1976-2001, was a colorful character. Like, many who take the time to talk about their profession, he was proud of his craft and worked hard to hone his skills. He was always grateful for his opportunities and never took anything for granted. And, yes, he made a couple of big mistakes along the way. He was fired in 2001 for improperly using plane tickets in violation of the umpire union’s contract and in 2004 he was sentenced to four months in jail after participating in a memorabilia scheme which resulted in a federal mail fraud conviction.

But Clark never shied away from his responsibility or blamed his situations on others. He tells a frank story in his memoir, written with the able assistance of Dan Schlossberg (at left in photo). Among the topics of conversation: the relationships between umpires and players; the evolution of technology and how it affects umpiring; and Clark’s Jewish roots.

Among the many appearances Clark will be making is his Sunday, May 18 ,event with Schlossberg at the Yogi Berra Museum.


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There are several excellent bits featuring of baseball cliches, not the least of which is this scene from Bull Durham:

I previous wrote about The Final Four of Everything, focusing on Dan Okrent’s greatest Jewish baseball Players and Will Leitch’s greatest sports writers. Now it’s time for Sports Cliches, a contribution by Sports Illustrated‘s Steve Rushin.

Only one of the 32 choices — “All credit goes to my Offensive Line” — definitely excludes usage in baseball, so I’m discarding that one along with its opponent, “All credit goes to my Lord and Savior.” The rest are fair game.

So in the original setting we have (winner of each bracket appears in italics):

  • We need to work on our chemistry vs. I need to work on my mechanics
  • It’s do or die vs. Our backs are against the wall
  • He’s in a zone vs. We’re on a mission
  • I give 110% vs. It’s not about the money
  • This is a real gut check vs. We shocked the world
  • There’s no quit in these guys vs. It’s crunch time
  • Not in our house vs. We’re going in a different direction
  • We don’t pay attention to the hype vs. It is what it is
  • The kid’s got tremendous upside vs. Nobody gave us a chance
  • We have to stay within ourselves vs. They threw him under the bus
  • We play ‘em one game at a time vs. The guys have to dig deep
  • I have a family to feed vs. We sent them a message today
  • We left it all on the field vs. He has ice water in his veins
  • This is a wake-up call vs. Someone needs to step up
  • Let’s take it to the next level vs. I want to spend more time with my family

Round Two (Sweet Sixteen):

  • We need to work on our chemistry vs. It’s do or die
  • We’re on a mission vs. I give 110%
  • Gut check vs. Crunch time
  • Different direction vs. It is what it is
  • Nobody gave us a chance vs. They threw him under the bus
  • One game at a time  vs. the eliminated football reference face-off
  • I have a family to feed vs. We left it all on the field
  • Someone needs to step up vs. I want to spend more time with my family

Round Three (Elite Eight):

  • We need to work on our chemistry vs. I give 110%
  • Gut check vs. It is what it is
  • They threw him under the bus vs. One game at a time
  • I have a family to feed vs.  I want to spend more time with my family

Round Four (Final Four):

  • I give 110% vs. It is what it is
  • One game at a time  vs. I want to spend more time with my family


  • One game at a time  vs. I give 110%

Other examples of baseball cliches (many overlap):

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A chance to look over the overlooked.

* Not exactly “Throwback Thursday,” but this piece on the Peoria Journal Star website is an appreciation for The Bronx Zoo, published by relief pitcher Sparky Lyle (then with the NY Yankees) and Peter Golenbock.

* And another one from PJS about Double Play, a memoir written by Tampa Bay Rays’ star Ben Zobrist and his wife, Julianne.

* Author signings:

  • Former Contra Costa Times sports reporter and columnist Gary Peterson will sign copies of his new book Battle of the Bay: Bashing A’s, Thrilling Giants, and the Earthquake World Series” from 1 to 3 p.m. April 14 at Rocco’s Pizzeria & Ristorante, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek.
  • Vince McKee, author of Jacobs Field, a new book looking back at the first 20 years of Indians baseball, will be at Visible Voice, 1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland, on Friday, April 11, 7-9 p.m., and 198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake, on Saturday, April 12,  2-4 p.m.

* Ben Bradlee Jr.was recently at an event on Polk County, Maryland, to discuss his recent biography about Ted Williams.

* Barbara Gregorich, author Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball was the featured speaker at a recent program with the same title.

* Even though his event has passed, you can still read this piece about Howard Bryant and his bio, The Last Hero A Life of Henry Aaron by Bryant, Howard, in recognition of the slugger’s 715th home run, 40 years ago last Tuesday.

* I read Doug Harvey’s new memoir They Called Me God (a review of this, along with Al Clark’s Called Out But Safe, will appear on Bookreporter.com later this month) and I had a lot of problems with it. A lot. At a time when just about anything can be verified or discredited with a few on-line searches, Harvey wrote in the broadest generalities, without much regard to exactitude. That’s the basis of this piece from the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal.

* Clark was a guest on WJZ, CBS’ affiliate in Baltimore. Kind of appropriate: the cover of his book depicts him ejecting Cal Ripken Jr., who was only tossed twice in his 21-year career.

* I’ve said it before, and doubtless will say it many more time: with all the new books out, I don’t know why writers continue to refer to titles published the previous year. In this piece from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, two of the four books mentioned came out in 2013, one of them From First To Worst: The New York Mets, 1973-1977, Who’s on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History by my NJ neighbor Filip Bondy (with whom I appeared at an event out our local public library). With all due respect, FWTF Who’s on Worst, while a fun read, was not one of the big buzzers of the year. I don’t know what the criteria is for items like this; maybe it’s first come, first served as far as books arriving at the newspaper. (Thanks to the commenters who pointed out the incorrect titles. How embarrassing.)

* Although I normally don’t write about kids’ books, the least I can do is post a link to this Washington Post piece featuring a couple of titles.

* George Will, author of the current (as of this writing) best-selling baseball title on Amazon, was a recent guest on WGN radio with hosts Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano.

* It’s taken awhile, but some of the older classic titles are catching up to the digital age. Case in point: Robert Whiting’s The Chrysanthemum and the Bat, first published in 1977.

* Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera worked on two versions of his autobiography, including one for younger readers. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plans for Spanish-language versions as well.

* Here come the annual baseball review roundups, (culled mostly from press releases, it seems to me): the latest from Daily Beast and Epoch Times.

* Finally, here’s catching up with Tom Hoffarth’s 30-in-30series of baseball book reviews:


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The top-ten baseball books as per Amazon.com.

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); I’m old fashioned that way.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read it. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason this week’s list 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 tel, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years.

  1. A Nice Little Place on the North Side, by George F.http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/34d3dca1befc1e903a8fb32adaa9c7cd58856ea6/c=0-102-1702-2387&r=537&c=0-0-534-712/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2014/03/25//1395787298000-A-Nice-Little-Place-on-the-North-Side.jpg Will
  2. Where Nobody Knows Your Name, by Michael Feinstein (Bookshelf review and author interview)
  3. Pete Rose, by Kostya Kennedy (Bookshelf author interview)
  4. Baseball Prospectus, by Baseball Prospectus
  5. Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
  6. Up, Up, and Away, by Jonah Keri
  7. The Mental Game of Baseball, by H.A. Dorfman
  8. Wrigley Field: The Centennial, by Les Krantz
  9. Down to the Wire, by Tim Wendel
  10. Sports Illustrated’s Baseball’s Greatest (Bookshelf editor interview)

Not on this list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right?

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Apropos of earlier entries about the 25th anniversary of Major League and a suggested new line of bio-pics, here’s a list from SI.com’s Extras Mustard of “11 Sports Movie Characters Who Would Suck at Their Sport in Real Life.”

Two of the 11 come from baseball flics, including Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year

http://www.bloguincollege.com/thenorthendzone/images/stories/movie-of-the-day-rookie-of-the-year-L-mT9RdO.jpegIgnoring the fact that Henry Roadenhowser was four years too young to even sign a contract with the Cubs, the real farce in Rookie of the Year is the notion that he would have any success as a pitcher. Even if Gardenhoser had the ability to throw the heat due to an injury that makes no sense, it’s very doubtful that he would have possessed the concentration and poise to face — and strike out — major league hitters. Plus the one time he had to bat, everyone in attendance had legitimate concerns that he was going to die. With all respect to Goenrader, I think his major league career would likely have consisted of one pitch quickly followed by Tommy John surgery.

and Willie Mays Hayes in the aforementioned Major League (although I think several of the other characters could fit this limit as well).

http://mypartyshirt.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/w/i/willie-mays-hayes_1.pngThe classic sports comedy Major League turned 25 on Monday, and to honor the flick, Big League Stew compiled 15 little known facts about the movie. Perhaps the most interesting is that center fielder Willie Mays Hayes never throws a baseball during film. The reason for this was that Wesley Snipes had never played baseball before filming the movie and thus couldn’t throw a ball convincingly. I’m no sabermetrician, but I think most experts agree that the ability to throw a baseball is a desirable quality in a center fielder.

Do take a minute and visit that Big League Stew link; interesting stuff.

Haven’t seen the movie in a while and it’s not burned into my memory, so I can’t be sure, but did Pedro Cerano throw a ball from the outfield?


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iPhone Screenshot 2Because you can keep your smart phone on a bookshelf.

For those who absolutely need to be as up-to-date as possible when it comes to the status of possible no-hitters, apparently there’s an app for that.

I’ve got problems right off the bat (as it were) as the developer opens the site with “Never miss perfection. No‑hitter alerts, direct to your iPhone and iPad” because, as we all know, a pitcher doesn’t have to have be “perfect” to throw a no-hitter.

I don’t know how much space this takes up, but for the few times it will actually be useful, I’m going to skip it.

Another time suck but much more interactive is MLB’s PrePlay in which you have to predict various scenarios of games in real time. Kind of fun, but the point is to accumulate points which ostensibly can be used in exchange for merchandise (?). I’ve got that one on my iPhone but you really have to be quick; you only have seconds to offer answers such as will Batter X make a hit or an out, and what kind of hit or out will it be. The more accurate you are, the higher your score. There’s practically no time to look into pitcher-hitter matchups, so it really moves.


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As in Extra Hot Great, one of my favorite podcasts.

http://cdn.previously.tv/m/Sarah-D.-Bunting_avatar-80x80.jpgWhile listening to EHG on my way to work this morning, I learned that Sarah D. Bunting (Bunting!), one of the regular hosts, was absent because she was delivering a paper at baseball conference. I did a quick search and deduced it was this one: The Baseball in Literature & Culture Conference at Middle Tennessee State University.

The topic of her paper: “Casting Bullpen: The Next Great Baseball Biopic.”

Bunting has written several engaging pieces putting together movies with the national pastime, including this critique of Bang the Drum Slowly and this on Sports on Earth about some possible future projects. Not sure if the latter is the same as her paper at the conference but there are some interesting ideas there.


Yes, that’s Phil from Lost (aka Patrick Fischler) playing Shoeless Joe Jackson. Hey,  he couldn’t be worse than Field of Dream‘s Ray Liotta, who not only didn’t bother to employ a southern accent, but was filmed as a right-handed batter. At least The Pride of the Yankees had the courtesy to try to turn Gary Cooper into a lefty.

There are also suggestions for a new Jimmy Piersall pic with Ben Affleck as the main character, and another with James Cromwell portraying Connie Mack. Cromwell already has baseball chops: he portrayed Brother Mathias in the 1992 film The Babe  (not to mention the farmer in Babe). Then there’s Michael Imperioli as Joe DiMaggio. The former Sopranos star also has a “baseball film” under his belt: Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. (Don’t know if you could consider Affleck’s The Town a baseball flic, even though Fenway Park did serve as a co-star.


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But how sad is this:

http://nj.gov/nj/probaseball/library/logos/bears.jpgThe Newark Bears Professional Baseball team and its concessions company are hosting a liquidation sale and auction at 10am on April 26, 2014.

Location: Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, 450 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Business and personal items will be available for purchase.  There will be items offered through set pricing as well as other items auctioned off to the highest bidder. All sales are final.  Purchases can be in the form of cash, credit card or check and must be paid in full on April 26th.

Items included, but not limited to:

- Newark Bears Professional Baseball Team Naming Rights, Concessions Business Naming Rights, Dance Team Naming Rights And Directly Affiliated; Logo, Website And Social Media Accounts (Auctioned)

- 2006 MCI J4500 56 Passenger Bus (Auctioned)

- John Deere Lawn And Turf Equipment Package (Auctioned)

- Commercial Kitchen / Restaurant And Bar Equipment And Supplies (Liquidated)

- Other Professional Landscaping And Turf Equipment, Supplies And Products (Liquidated)

- Building Maintenance And Housekeeping / Cleaning Equipment, Supplies And Products (Liquidated)

- Office Furniture (Liquidated)

- Office Electronics (Liquidated)

- Retail Displays & Racks (Liquidated)

- Newark Bears Uniforms, Merchandise, Memorabilia (Liquidated And Auctioned)

- Professional Baseball Equipment, Supplies And Products (Liquidated And Auctioned)

- Professional Ticketing Systems (Liquidated)

- Medical / Training Supplies (Liquidated)

- Bedroom Furniture (Liquidated)

- Living Room Furniture (Liquidated)

- Dining Room Furniture (Liquidated)

- Vehicles (Auctioned)

- And Much More!

All sales are final and sold as is. Purchasers are responsible for all transaction fees, taxes and removal of their purchased item(s).  There will be a NSF minimum charge of $50 for non-sufficient funds.


T Paul Wilbert & Assoc.

Phone: 908-610-6803

Email: timwilbert21@yahoo.com


Thank you and we hope to see you on the 26th.

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Forty years. It’s been four decades — the amount of time the Children of Israel were wandering through the desert — sine Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. And there are more than a few fans who believe he still holds that record, Barry Bonds be damned.

As Aaron was approaching the sacred mark of 714, there was no shortage of books to mark the occasion. The same theme was repeated in the intervening years, especially as other anniversaries approached. Among them:

ESPN will air a “live-re-enactment” tonight at 7:15 before the Braves host the Mets. Wonder what that’s gonna be like.

In this piece, several ESPN/sports personalities recall “where they were” at the time of the historic event (is it really necessary to list their Twitter handles?). I remember seeing it at home and feeling sorry that it happened so early in the game. I know I didn’t watch the whole thing.

Here’s a timed quiz to see if you can name the top 10 all-time home run leaders. I got nine out of ten.


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Welcome back, boys and girls. It’s time for that annual exercise in which we compare the Big Two: Sports Illustrated vs. ESPN the Magazine to see how the baseball previews compare.

On the one hand, it can’t be too easy to keep coming up with new ideas for the issue. You profile the new hot import or the MVP/Cy Young winner or the minor league prospect. Then there are the individual team profiles. Not much you can do there. A few capsules for pitchers, catchers, infielders, outfielders, managers, maybe intangibles, plus the projected 25-man roster and maybe the schedule. Maybe there’s room for the basic (i.e., old-fashioned stats of HR/RBI/BA or W-L/K/ERA).

On the other hand, there’s so much new stuff coming out: new stats, video replay, the catchers situation, the post-PED era. That should give some fodder for the enterprising editors.

So, without further ado:

Cover SI has covers featuring Masahiro Tanaka, Mike Trout, Yadier Molina, and Robinson Cano. Tanaka, Molina, and Cano are subjects of profiles (no Trout?) The one and only Clayton Kershaw. Cover Story by Buster Olney.
Main Feature(s) * Tom Verudcci on “The Power Gap”
* Cliff Corcoran on “Long Story Short” (shortstops)
* Albert Chen on “Framing Pitches” (catchers)
* Eric Nusbaum on “Beisbol Prospectus” (players from Cuba)
* “Advance Report” – mish-mash on the old “things to look for” staple
* A profile on Theo Epstein and the future of the Cubs
* A multiple-exposure photo-essay on the different styles of seven Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers
* A profile of baseball lifer Mike Jirschele, finally in the majors as a Royals coach
Scouting Reports * Teams are ranked withing their leagues from 1-15, as opposed to how they’ll finish in their divisions, which would have made finding that info a tad unwieldy if not for a “how they’ll finish” table at the head.
* Project lineups and rotations.
* “Enemy Lines” – brief reports from rival scouts
* “Modest proposals” = “helpful hints”?
* “Chemistry 162″ in which the editors try to discern which teams have positive, negative, or neutral chemistry based on demographic, isolation, and ego factors. Spot on discovery or gobbledygook? A bit difficult to grok, but them, I never was a hot numbers guy.
* No “traditional” reports
One more thing Essay by 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins on what “minor tweaks” he suggest to improve the game.  MLB Confidential: A survey of MLB players on a mere six topics within the game. Should be more.
 Conclusion Old school. Pretty standard but I thing the current SI demographic takes comfort in that. Bookshelf Grade: B. Taking the safe road, but doing it well. Young turk. ESPN always seems to be looking for new ways to express. I think their physical layout allows for more experimentation with visuals. Bookshelf Grade: C. Not enough of what fans look for in a preview.
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Happy anniversary, Major League

Baseball and popular culture

For some reason, it seems a lot longer than 25 years since Major League hits the screen. Must be the clothes. To be honest, this was never one of my favorites. I found the characters a bit too cartoonish, especially coming after the more realistic Bull Durham. Although the phrase “Juuuust a bit outside” — […]

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The Book of the Week contest: Stars and Strikes

2014 title

First of all, congratulations to Bob W. of Chantilly, VA, winner of last week’s book, Long Shot, by Mike Piazza and Lonnie Wheeler. Thank you all for your comments. This week’s offering is the brand-spankin’ new Stars and Strikes: Baseball and American in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76 by Dan Epstein. A reminder about the […]

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The Bookshelf Conversation: Josh Perelman

2014 title

As of the end of the 2013 season, Jewish athletes had accounted for about 170 of nearly 19,000 Major Leaguers. So you wouldn’t expect the new “Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American” exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to have the breadth of material one would see in Cooperstown. Nevertheless, […]

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National Pastime Radio: Talkin’ baseball with Amy Schumer on Wait Wait


The latest Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me ran the gamut from all-Jewish (Peter Sagal) to half-Jewish (“Not My Job” guest Amy Schumer to not-Jewish-at-all-but-thought-to-be baseball barnstorming team House of David. Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript. PETER SAGAL: Amy Schumer, it is a real pleasure to talk to you. And we have invited you […]

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Bits and pieces, April 4

2014 title

Been a hectic week, so I’ve let a few things slide. First and foremost, the next books in Tom Hoffarth’s annually excellent 30-in-30 series: John Feinstein’s Where Nobody Knows Your Name and Ed Sherman’s Babe Ruth’s Called Shot. Here’s another Feinstein item from WRALSPortsfan.com. And maybe you can find the link in this piece from […]

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Bracketology: 21st-Century Sports Books


A while back I posted about the “Chasing Dreams” exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, specifically Dan Okrent’s “bracket” of Jewish Major Leaguers. Since then, I’ve perused the book whence that came — The Final Four of Everything, co-edited by Mark Reityer and Richard Sandomir, sports media writer for The […]

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Authors appearance: Kennedy, Keri, and Mass @ Varsity Letters

2014 title

Thursday, April 10 is baseball night at Varsity Letters at The Gallery at LPR. Grantland’s Jonah Keri,  will read from his new book Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos. He’ll be joined by Kostya […]

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