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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As you may have notice, these entries have been falling off in the last several weeks. My apologies. A new full-time job — very different from what I had been doing as the sports and features editor of a weekly community newspaper in suburban New Jersey — has put new and strange demands on my time. More about that at another time perhaps.

In the meantime…

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: 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.

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 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, at least not in the main.

  1. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  2. Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages, by David Ross with Don Yeager
  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  4. 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
  5. The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond, by Jeff Silverman
  6. Papi: My Story, by David Ortiz with Michael Holley
  7. Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, by Joey Myers
  8. Heads-Up Baseball: Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time, by Tom Hanson
  9. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  10. The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life, by Rick Ankiel with Tim Brown

Hot New Releases

  1. The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball’s Most Historic Record, by John Eisenberg
  2. The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques, by Jay Jaffe
  3. Teammate

Most Wished For

  1. Smart Baseball
  2. The Cubs Way
  3. Moneyball

NY Times: Papi is number one on the July monthly sports best-selling list with Teammate #5. Tim Tebow’s Shaken is #10. Now that he’s a baseball player, should that count?

Recently finished Streak — nicely done — which is another book that has Lou Gehrig as a focal point. Look for a Bookshelf Conversation with the author in the near future.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 949,133; last time: 1,297,901. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks 526,888.

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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I’ve been looking to participate in Gelf Magazine’s “Varsity Letters” program for years. The dream comes true July 24. Hope to see you there. Here are the details:

Varsity Letters logo Baseball Night

Varsity Letters is back at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, July 24, with four authors of recently released books about baseball:

• Sports Illustrated writer Jay Jaffe, author of The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques

Ron Kaplan, author of Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War

• MLB.com executive reporter Mark Feinsand, author of The New York Yankees Fans’ Bucket List

• Faith and Fear in Flushing blogger Greg Prince, author of Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star

Graphics by Mister Lister.

Event Details:

The Gallery at LPR (Official site, map)
158 Bleecker St. (between Sullivan St. and Thompson St.)
New York, NY 10012
Blocks from ACE/BDF/MNR/1/6 trains

Doors open at 7.
Event starts at 7:30.
There is no admission charge.
Attendees must be 21 or older, as per Le Poisson Rouge rules. (Email varsityletters@gmail.com if you are under 21 and would like to attend. The farther in advance, the better; no guarantees.)

Baseball Hall of FameThen, on August 16 at 1 p.m., I’ll be serving as “closer” for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Annual “Author’s Series.” From the Hall’s announcement:

Our Authors Series brings noted baseball authors to Cooperstown for special lectures and book signings during the summer months. These programs are included with the cost of admission.

On Wednesday, August 16th at 1pm, the Hall of Fame will welcome author Ron Kaplan as he talks about his new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

From his first day in the big leagues, Hank Greenberg dealt with persecution for being Jewish. The Hall of Famer always did his best to shut out the bigotry, but in 1938, that would prove more difficult then he could have imagined.

Author Ron Kaplan examines Greenberg’s 1938 season in incredible detail. While Greenberg was battling at the plate, the Jewish people overseas were dealing with a humanitarian crisis. Adolf Hitler had taken direct control of the country’s military in February of 1938 and then began a methodic takeover of all neighboring countries, spreading Nazism and the Holocaust.

Hank Greenberg in 1938 chronicles the events of 1938, both on the diamond and in the streets of Europe. As Greenberg took aim at Babe Ruth’s home run record, Hitler’s “Final Solution” was beginning to take shape. Jews across the United States, worried about the issues overseas, looked to Greenberg as a symbol of hope. Though normally hesitant to speak about the anti-Semitism he dealt with, Greenberg knew that he was batting for so many of his own people, particularly those living with life and death on the European continent.

The program includes a presentation in the Bullpen Theater, followed by a book signing in the Library Atrium. Presentation at 1 pm. Book signing at 1:30 pm.

For more information call (607) 547-0362.

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I had the enormous good fortune to catch Claire Smith, the newest recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award at the recent Society for American Baseball Research convention.

Smith was the first African-American female reporter to cover baseball for a newspaper as a staffer with the Hartford Courant in 1983. She later became a columnist with the New York Times (1991-98) and an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer (1998-2007). She is currently an editor for ESPN. And aren’t all her former colleagues all effusive with their praise?

As an African-American and a woman, she is truly a pioneer on many fronts, enduring uncomfortable situations on both fronts as she began her career, dealing with the knuckleheads in locker rooms who objected to her presence. So it’s only proper that the news was carried by more than just the sports media, such as in this piece from PBS Newshour or this item from the Povich Center, named in honor of the legendary Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich.

In addition to her newspaper work, Smith co-wrote Nothing But the Truth: A Baseball Life, by Don Baylor, which was published in 1989.

Enjoy the conversation.

 

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I’ve been looking to participate in Gelf Magazine’s “Varsity Letters” program for years. The dream comes true July 24. Hope to see you there. Here are the details:

Varsity Letters logo Baseball Night

Varsity Letters is back at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, July 24, with four authors of recently released books about baseball:

• Sports Illustrated writer Jay Jaffe, author of The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques

Ron Kaplan, author of Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War

• MLB.com executive reporter Mark Feinsand, author of The New York Yankees Fans’ Bucket List

• Faith and Fear in Flushing blogger Greg Prince, author of Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star

Graphics by Mister Lister.

Event Details:

The Gallery at LPR (Official site, map)
158 Bleecker St. (between Sullivan St. and Thompson St.)
New York, NY 10012
Blocks from ACE/BDF/MNR/1/6 trains

Doors open at 7.
Event starts at 7:30.
There is no admission charge.
Attendees must be 21 or older, as per Le Poisson Rouge rules. (Email varsityletters@gmail.com if you are under 21 and would like to attend. The farther in advance, the better; no guarantees.)

Baseball Hall of FameThen, on August 16 at 1 p.m., I’ll be serving as “closer” for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Annual “Author’s Series.” From the Hall’s announcement:

Our Authors Series brings noted baseball authors to Cooperstown for special lectures and book signings during the summer months. These programs are included with the cost of admission.

On Wednesday, August 16th at 1pm, the Hall of Fame will welcome author Ron Kaplan as he talks about his new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

From his first day in the big leagues, Hank Greenberg dealt with persecution for being Jewish. The Hall of Famer always did his best to shut out the bigotry, but in 1938, that would prove more difficult then he could have imagined.

Author Ron Kaplan examines Greenberg’s 1938 season in incredible detail. While Greenberg was battling at the plate, the Jewish people overseas were dealing with a humanitarian crisis. Adolf Hitler had taken direct control of the country’s military in February of 1938 and then began a methodic takeover of all neighboring countries, spreading Nazism and the Holocaust.

Hank Greenberg in 1938 chronicles the events of 1938, both on the diamond and in the streets of Europe. As Greenberg took aim at Babe Ruth’s home run record, Hitler’s “Final Solution” was beginning to take shape. Jews across the United States, worried about the issues overseas, looked to Greenberg as a symbol of hope. Though normally hesitant to speak about the anti-Semitism he dealt with, Greenberg knew that he was batting for so many of his own people, particularly those living with life and death on the European continent.

The program includes a presentation in the Bullpen Theater, followed by a book signing in the Library Atrium. Presentation at 1 pm. Book signing at 1:30 pm.

For more information call (607) 547-0362.

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Image result for gene conleyThe only man to be a member of a World Series winner (Milwaukee Brewers, 1957) and NBA championship (Boston Celtics, 1958-61) died on Tuesday at the age of 86.

Gene Conley, a three-time All-Star, compiled a record of 91-96 in 11 big league seasons. he played for the Braves in 1952 when they were still in Boston and then from 1954-58. He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies (1959-60) and Boston Red Sox (1961-.63). In the NBA, the 6’8″power forward was on the Boston Celtics squad for the 1952-53 campaign then took the next five seasons off to concentrate on baseball. He returned to the Celtics during their championship run, took off again for the ’62-63 season, then played his final two years with the NY Knicks from 1962-64.

His wife, Kathryn, published One of a Kind: The Gene Conley Story in 2007. As of this writing it ranks 4,453,458 on Amazon, but I imagine that will improve for the immediate future.

 

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Kudos to the planning committee; they saved the best (IMHO) for last.

(Note: this was written over the course of the day, so bear in mind the timeframe references.)

The final full day began with meeting some old friends: Curt Smith, author of several excellent books about the legendary broadcasters of the game (photo below left); and Jeff Katz, the mayor of Cooperstown and author of Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball; and Mark Armour, whose service and devotion to SABR makes him a legend in his own right.

The first panel featured a discussion about Yogi Berra and all quartet of speakers each had a very personal connection with him: Dave “No Relation” Kaplan as moderator with Harvey Araton and George Vecsey, both former New York Times sportswriters (Kaplan and Araton are neighbors of mine in Montclair), and Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s oldest granddaughter and a correspondent with ESPN.

From left: Harvey Araton, George Vescey, Lindsay Berra, and Dave Kaplan.

Kaplan is the former executive director of the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University and had a long connection with the Hall of Famer, having co-authored several books with him. Araton wrote the best-seller Driving Mr. Yogi, about the sweet relationship between Berra and Ron Guidry. Vecsey was a member of the “Chipmunk” generation of writers who bucked tradition and asked the questions their predecessors wouldn’t and had a very friendly relationship with Berra as well. And of course, Lindsay had her own perspective of grandpa, at one point sharing a story about being invited by a friend to go to a game at Yankee Stadium but fearful or Berra’s reaction since he was on the outs with George Steinbrenner years after his ignominious firing.

As one might imagine, being a beloved personality — it’s hard to imagine anyone have anything bad to say about Berra — the audience was charmed by all the stories and anecdotes the panel sharedThis session, despite its relatively early hour, was probably the best-attended to this point. It might be rivaled by  Bouton, scheduled for later in the day.

More shameless self-promotion: Had a chat with Rob Taylor, who edited 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die about a revised edition. There have been a number of worthy books that have come out since it wear first released in 2013. Taylor asked for a brief proposal which includes those tittles, as well as what they would replace. After all, we want to keep the title. Already getting suggestions. One good thing is that since I didn’t rank the books, there’s no moving things around, say from #5 to #37, etc.

After chatting with Taylor, I went back to hear a very lively research committee meeting of the Baseball Card group, co-chaired by Armour, who has to be the busiest guy in SABR this day. I found the presentation by TV personality and uber-collector Keith Olbermann amazing; he certainly walks the walk. He probably could have made a good living out of that expertise.

The next session I attended — “All in Good Fun: The Emasculating Rituals of MLB Players” by Allison Levin — considered the hazing teams put on rookies when they force them to don women’s clothing. Levin noted this is especially troubling in today’s culture where the LGBT community is seeking broader acceptance and bullying is too prevalent a problem. She suggested there are are much friendlier alternatives if you want to put this forward as a bonding experience and opined that MLB is still not ready for an active player to come out.

After that was Paul Hensler‘s “Baseball in the Age of Aquarius: Milestone Transformation of 1968-69.” Now these were the years when my own fandom really started to take form, so I found the concept particularly relevant. Among the topics: expansion and divisional play; new multi-purpose “Cookie cutter” ballparks which served no one well; a change in the Commissioner’s office, moving from William Eckert to Bowie Kuhn who had to contend with a new generation of players who reflected the change in American society at the time, replete with anti-establishment feelings brought forth by race, war, politics, and cultural changes (while at the same time giving the sport’s labor movement an ever-growing presence); and the increasing use of computers, as represented by the publication of The Baseball Encyclopedia, which The New York Times described as “big for a book, small for an amusement park.” By the way, Hensler is the author of the forthcoming book, The New Boys of Summer: Baseball’s Radical Transformation in the Late Sixties.

From there I attended an analysis of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” as it reflected a new brand of female fan, by George Boziwick.  I did find this one a  bit out of place, given the duo of full-length books already published on the topic. But Boziwick probably put a bit more detail about the history of the song as regards the “women’s movement.” Didn’t realize the two versions were done before and after women received the vote. and its deeper social significance, but fun nonetheless.Differences between songs in which the woman is more passive than here, where SHE’s the real hard-rooting fan. “Equality” and “Empowerment.” Baseball is a male-oriented pursuit in which she can participate if she’ll just become educated in the sport.

Perhaps the high point of the Convention was “Jim Bouton: A Life in Baseball.”  The session was supposed to announce that Bouton is suffering cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a form of dementia, but the Times beat them to the punch with this article slated to appear in Sunday’s print edition.

In the above photo, from left, Marty Appel, Mitchell Nathanson, Mark Armour, John Thorn, Jim Bouton, and Paula Kurman.

Bouton, now 78, looked remarkably well as he appeared on the stage with his wife, Paula Kurman, a retired psychologist and communications specialist who helped her husband as needed in finding his words and relating stories (for a time, following a strike five year ago, Bouton was unable to read, write, speak, or otherwise communicate.) The rest of the panel consisted of Marty Appel, who was the assistant public relations director when  Bouton was with the Yankees; Mark Armour, one more time; and author Mitchell Nathanson, who is working on a biography abut Bouton.

The session was moderated by John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball, who introduced the guest of honor as” the man who made this occasion necessary. “It is not surprising that Bouton should be so well received by this group. After all, he “wrote the book.” Thorn Kerman discussed Bouton’s Cerebreal Amamloid (CAA). Thus making it public for the first time, because “we consider this organization to be friends.” She is there as a translator; very sad.

Thorn said Ball Four “forever changed baseball writing” while Nathanson contributed the best line: “You can talk about the history of baseball without talking about Mike Schmidt, but you can’t tell [it] without Jim Bouton.”

Appel concluded the program thus: “I have met hundreds of fans who said ‘Ball Four made me fall in love with baseball.’ What great tribute that is to this important book.”

I recorded the session and will post it in a separate entry. Bouton has a special place in my heart because he was the first author I interviewed on the Bookshelf.

All due respect to the presenters, the rest of the afternoon was a bit anti-climactic, although I did enjoy Armour (again?) in his discussion of MLB’s centennial celebration in 1969 and the process for choosing the best players of all time, living and/or dead and, for the finale, an interview under the auspices of the Baseball and the Media Committee with Alain Usereau, a Montreal-based, French-language broadcaster of ML games. As y0u may know, my maternal side hails from that city so there are a lot of fond thoughts there as well.

And so the Convention came to an end for me as I headed home for Jersey, happy to have made new and re-acquaintances.  Hope you all had a good time, too.

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(Posted early Saturday, but the time references refer to Friday.)

The second full day began with “A Celebration of 70 Years: Jackie Robinson’s Journey,” with panelists Lee Lowenfish, author of Branch Rickey: The Ferocious Gentleman among other baseball titles; author and former NY Times columnist William C. Rhoden; and Della Britton Baeza, CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The session was moderated by Larry Lester, a long-time SABR member and perhaps the most preeminent scholar on the negro Leagues with too many credits to mention here. The previous afternoon, Lester received SABR’s most prestigious honor, the Bob Davis Award. Well done, sir.

“A Celebration” consisted of the panelists discussing what Robinson meant to them, to baseball, and to society. The time allotted wasn’t sufficient to cover to entirety of No. 42’s legacy, but had to suffice, given the constraints of the schedule.

I flitted around for the rest of the morning, quite enjoying a program connecting jazz great Louis Armstrong with the national pastime. I know I’m not giving all the other presentations enough coverage, but this is an opinionated piece and naturally one can’t attend everything, so I can only comment on the ones I did visit. That said, I must say that “Statcast and the Value of Defense” was way over my head because math. I wonder what the divide is among members of the organization as to which side they fall on: historical narrative or statistical analysis. Of course, there is a fair amount of overlap (see John Thorn and Peter Palmer’s The Hidden Game of Baseball, which was re-released relatively recently (say that five times fast). Let me just say that while these presentations might not be my cups of tea, that doesn’t detract from the time, energy, and passion that the presenters have for their topics so kudos all around.

Then it was time to gather in the lobby for the “SABR 47 Ballpark Session” at Citi Field. I must admit, as an “almost New Yorker,” I get a kick out of seeing how out-of-towners react to things I take for granted. The New York City subway, for example, and or going to the Mets’ home for the first time.

Several hundred conventioneers were treated to a private audience with members of the team’s organization discussing their various jobs, including first base coach Tom Goodwin, who was actually pinch-hitting for manager Terry Collins; Josh Lewin, Wayne Randazzo, and Steve Gelbs, three members of the Mets’ TV and radio broadcasting crews; GM Sandy Alderson, who made some illuminating (to me at least) comments about the care and feeding of the amateur draft; and a trio of gentlemen who work in the statistical analysis department (again, over my head). All this while members of the visiting Philadelphia Phillies warmed up below us, blisfully unaware of our presence. (In a moment of shameless elf-promotion, I gave my business card to Lewin whose book Getting in the Game: Inside Baseball’s Winter Meetings, is included in my 501.)

After two hours, we were ushered to our seats in center field, a section from which I heretofore never had the pleasure of enjoying a game. Quite an interesting perspective, although we couldn’t see the scoreboard which was just behind us. What was behind us was a cornucopia of dining choices where you could find most of us for quite some time.

Jacob DeGrom took the hill for the Mets and struck out 12 in seven innings and the Mets won, 2-1.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s finale which includes sessions on two legendary figures in the game, for very different reasons: Yogi Berra and Jim Bouton, whose seminal memoir Ball Four changed the face of sports literature.

 

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The first full day of the annual convention for the Society for American Baseball Research was about what I expected. A chance to catch up with old friends and meet others with whom I’ve only had a social media/email correspondence. Please forgive the somewhat sloppy but it’s late and I’m tired

A few personal highlights:

Claire Smith, the forthcoming Spink Award recipient from the Baseball Hall of Fame, was on a couple of panels, one in which she interviewed Jean Afterman, the assistant GM of the NY Yankees, and another with umpire Perry Barber on “Women in Baseball.” I had the chance to speak with Ms. Smith one-on-one for a future “Bookshelf Conversation.”

 

 

 

 

Marty Appel, Steve Jacobson, and Ira Berkow spoke on a panel about “Casey Stengel: A Man for All Seasons,” moderated by Ed Randall, resplendent in his best Lindsey Nelson sport coat.

Enjoyed the chance to meet some talented people in the vendors’ room including Sean Kane, who does paintings on baseball gloves, and Anika Orrock, whose work reminded me of cartoons one might see in the New Yorker. Kane shared a table with Jay Goldberg of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also touched base (heh) with Brian Kenny, author of Ahead of the Curve and the subject of this Bookshelf Conversation, who moderated the panel on “MLB Now: The Changing State of Sabermetrics,” with Mark DeRosa, Joel Sherman, Mike Petriello, and one other gentleman whose name escapes me. Have to admit that this one was a bit beyond my ken, being more narrative-minded. Prior to the session, I found Kenny surrounded by a group of young people and wondered, where did they come from all of a sudden?

Other folks drifted in an out, saying hello, including Gary Mitchem of McFarland, which probably has the largest presence in the vendors’ room, as well as Rob Taylor of the University of Nebraska Press, who edited my first major publishing project, 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die which I hope you’ll see in a revised edition some day.

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I know, I know. “Hey, Ron,” you say, “What’s going on? You don’t call, you don’t write…”

Things have been a bit hectic since I lost my job as sports and features editor of the NJ Jewish News last September due to a corporate takeover. Although I was able to distract myself for a month or so with finishing up the manuscript for Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, that didn’t last too long. Then it was the arduous task in trying to find a job in a dying industry. The longer I went without, the more it hit me that maybe I’m not the talented genius I thought I was. If I were, then publications would be banging down my door to hire me, no? Anyway…

Suffice it to say I found another job, finally, working at a nearby Trader Joe’s. (See here for another interesting interview scenario with another company.) Seems I’ve come full circle: my first job as a 13-year-old back in Brooklyn was for a mom-and-pop fruit store where I spent most of my “salary” on snack cakes. This, coupled with turning 60, created a whole new set of existential issues. But, to quote a couple of lines from the song “Alice’s Restaurant,” “that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I’m here to talk about the draft.” Well, not the draft, actually, but blogging.

All this fretting has taken a toll on the Bookshelf. Basically, I’ve been able to post the weekly baseball best-seller lists and maybe a “lest we forget” here and there. I’m hoping that will change soon as I settle into my routine at TJ’s, and that I will be inspired by the SABR convention that begins today. I’ve been to just a handful since joining the organization more than 25 years ago but since this one is being held in New York, how could I not go? Looking forward to seeing old acquaintances and meeting people I’ve only corresponded with for years. So as another song goes, “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby.”

Image result for sabr convention, NY

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As you may have notice, these entries have been falling off in the last several weeks. My apologies. A new full-time job — very different from what I had been doing as the sports and features editor of a weekly community newspaper in suburban New jersey — has put new and strange demands on my time. More about that at another time perhaps.

In the meantime…

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: 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.

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 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, at least not in the main.

  1. 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
  2. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  3. Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages, by David Ross with Don Yeager
  4. Papi: My Story, by David Ortiz with Michael Holley
  5. The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life, by Rick Ankiel with Tim Brown
  6. Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton
  7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  8. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  9. Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, by Joey Myers
  10. The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond, by Jeff Silverman

*New on this list.

Hot New Releases

  1. The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic, by Richard Sandomir
  2. The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques, by Jay Jaffe
  3. The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team

Most Wished For

  1. Smart Baseball
  2. The Cubs Way
  3. Teammate

NY Times: Papi is number one on the June monthly sports best-selling list with Teammate #4; Ballplayer, #7;and Cubs Way, #8.

Just finished reading the new book on the making of one of my favorite movies. I hope to have its author on for a Bookshelf Conversation soon and will post a review. Some people might not like to see “how the sausage is made,” as the saying goes, but for me, it was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look. It just missed making the top ten here by a few sports.

Every once in awhile there’s a new “controversial” project that seeks to deconstruct the Hall of Fame process. When I received my review copy, I opened it at random and the first thing I saw was the section about Hank Greenberg. How’s that for coincidence?

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,297,901; last time: 1,148,852. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, which launched April 25, currently ranks 127,622, up from the last time I looked when it was 276,653.

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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An early start today because work.

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on with the show…

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: 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.

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 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, at least not in the main.

  1. Image result for chicago white sox, shapiroTeammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages, by David Ross with Don Yeager
  2. Papi: My Story, by David Ortiz with Michael Holley
  3. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  4. Say It’s So: Papa, Dad, Me, and 2005 White Sox Championship Season, by Ben Shapiro *
  5. 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
  6. Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton
  7. The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life, by Rick Ankiel with Tim Brown
  8. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  9. 2 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story, by Ed Henry
  10. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood

*New on this list.

Hot New Releases

  1. Teammate
  2. Say It’s So
  3. Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and The Art of Deception

Most Wished For

  1. Teammate
  2. Papi
  3. Smart Baseball

NY Times: Papi drops off the list; no baseball titles this week. It is #1 on the June monthly sports best-selling list with Teammate #4; Ballplayer, #7;and Cubs Way, #8.

There’s no change in the top three from last week’s entry. Say It’s So is a self-published title and I imagine (although I could easily be wrong) that one relatively large order, perhaps by the author to sell at book appearances, could account for the high ranking.

Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Today: 1,148,852; last week: 490,610. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, which launched April 25, currently ranks 276,653, down from 77,629 last week.

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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Lest We Forget: Jimmy Piersall

Autobiography/memoirs

The author of the inspirational memoir Fear Strikes Out — which openly chronicled Piersall’s battle with mental illness — died Saturday at the age of 87. The book was much better than the movie. According to the excellent obituary by Richard Goldstein in The New York Times, “I hated the movie,” Piersall wrote in his […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, June 2, 2017

2016 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Lest we forget: Jim Bunning

Hall of Fame

Now it’s getting serious. Now we’re getting the the men who were playing when I was growing up. Sad. Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher who became a U.S. Senator, died yesterday at the age of 85. Here’s the New York Times‘ obituary by Richard Goldstein. Bunning pitched a perfect game against the New […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, May 26, 2017

2016 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, May 19, 2017

2016 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, May 12, 2017

2015 title

NOTE: I have been posting these things long enough now that a few have commented that the introductory section isn’t necessary anymore. But I’m leaving it in because, to paraphrase Joe DiMaggio when asked why he played so hard all the time, there may be people who’ve never read the best-seller entries before. So on […]

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Authors appearance: Berkow and Positano at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse

2017 Title

One of my favorite places on the planet hosts two more author events in the upcoming weeks. First up at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, tomorrow (May 10) at 7 p.m., Dr. Rock Positano will discuss his new release, Dinner with DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero. From the book’s Amazon page: The real Joe DiMaggio, […]

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Winston Churchill would have loved this (if he were a baseball fan)

2017 Title

They say the former Prime Minister and British icon read a book a day, even during the War. So I’m guessing, if he were still alive and had developed an interest in our national pastime, he would have enjoyed Tom Hoffarth’s 10th annual “30-for-30” baseball book feature. A pox on me for not keeping you […]

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Braggin’ on Bergino

2017 Title

Well, perhaps not bragging. That ain’t my style. But I did have a grand old time in my return visit to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, Jay Goldberg, proprietor, to discuss the new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War. Goldberg is a real friend to the author. He […]

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