Posting a bit earlier than usual today because Rachel has her second graduation ceremony today. Where did the time go?

NEW STUFF: 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…

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. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

  1. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51118XdLgVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgPedro, by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman
  2. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  3. Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak, by Travis Sawchik
  4. The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes, by Posada with Gary Brozek
  5. Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington
  6. The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers, by Jon Pessah
  7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  8. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance, by H.A. Dorfman
  9. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams
  10. The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes, by Gary Cieradkowski

A book about the Pirates?Refreshing. Have this one on my ever-growing pile of things to read.

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. As of this post, the ranking is 235,774, up nicely from last week’s 776,220. Maybe that fifth-grade classmate I re-met on Facebook actually did buy the book. Still, we can do better. If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

 

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Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood that famous quote from Forrest Gump. If it’s a box of chocolate covered cherries, don’t you know exactly what you’re going to get?)

On the one hand, I’m happy to report that I’m catching up / running out of these old links (some are no longer “with us”). On the other hand, it’s been cool reminiscing.

As a reminder,

I highly recommend Pocket as a way to hold onto links you come that you want to keep. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket keeps the entire page and makes it relative easy for you to find stuff you “pocketed.” I have keepers going back six years — more than 5,000 links — and I’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning house so here are some submitted for your amusement, perusal, and education. Some are not current, but in a sense, they’re timeless. They’re presented in reverse order (oldest first).

  •  Want to watch the entire 1950 feature film The Jackie Robinson Story? As you wish. To be brutally honest, it’s not very high on production values and Robinson is a better ballplayer than thespian. But what the other actors’ excuses?

  • Baseball Reflections reviewed Barbara Gregorich’s 2012 Jack and Larry: Jack Graney and Larry, the Cleveland Baseball Dog, giving it a rating of 3.5 out of 5.
  • BR also did a review of the DVD set Baseball’s Greatest Games-Collector’s Edition, giving it the same rating.
  • In 2012, Eric Nusbaum wrote “We Built This City,” about how baseball is obsessed with both the past and the future, for the long-form sports site, The Classical.
  • Cathy Goldberg Fishman wrote a book for kids on When Jackie and Hank Met, about the legendary encounter between Robinson and Greenberg during the former’s tumultuous rookie season in 1947.
  • Author page for Rick Swaine (Beating the Breaks: Major League Baseball Players Who Overcame Disabilities and The Integration of Major League Baseball: A Team by Team History, among others).
  • This piece on “Money and Wins” from The Hardball Times is beyond my ken because math. You can probably figure it out.
  • Sports psychology is a booming area of study but what would Charles Darwin think of all this? Scientific America offered a possible answer in this 2010 article.
  • If you’re interested in heckling various baseball personnel, here are some creative suggestions from the appropriately-named HeckleDepot.
  • It’s been too long since I checked in on Craig Robinson’s fun infograhics site, FlipFlopFlyball. Here’s a Q&A I did with Robinson before there were Bookshelf Conversations.

http://www.flipflopflyin.com/flipflopflyball/masthead.gif

 

Ciao.

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Normally, I post things like this beforehand…

We attended our daughter’s graduation from NYU, held at Yankee Stadium (that’s her on the first base side. Not, not that one; that one, the cute one). Now normally, when a ballgame is over, the fans all skedaddle as quickly as possible. Yesterday, however, was wall-to-wall people, milling outside, trying to meet up with their kids. Actually, milling is probably not the correct word, since it connotes actual movement. And technically, being outside the Stadium, there were no walls, but you get my meaning.

http://www.nyu.edu/life/events-traditions/commencement/ceremony/jcr:content/tripleBox/nyuimage.img.jpg/1421246528253.jpg

We went out for a late lunch and since I don’t get to Manhattan that much and Jeff Katz, author of Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball,was the featured guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, I decided to stick around. (I recently had him on for a Bookshelf Conversation.)

The event was well-attended. Katz, currently the mayor of Cooperstown, grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, so many of his old cronies showed up for another entertaining session hosted by Clubhouse proprietor, Jay Goldberg.

JayKatz KatzKap

But in addition, there were a few baseball writers in attendance including Lee Lowenfish and Ed Lucas and his son and memoir collaborator Chris, and myself (apologies if I omitted anyone I’ve never met before). Also on hand, former Major League pitcher Bob Tufts, who appeared in 11 games as a rookie for the San Francisco Giants in 1981 and is now an adjunct professor at NYU where he teaches business development; and Perry Barber, a leading advocate for female umpires in professional baseball.

As it happens, I’ll be in “the city” for the next Bergino event featuring Steve Steinberg, co-author with Lyle Spatz of The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees. Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

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But I’ve often felt that a fair number of these “literary” book reviews were semi-incestuous. That is, the authors travel in a lot of the same circles, went to the same schools, know the same people. It frequently struck me as a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”  quid pro quo kind of thing. That’s how I felt when The Art of Fielding was the darling of the day. I don’t know what this says about me, but I often feel the fault lies within me, that I’m not “getting it” when I don’t agree with the fawning that goes on.

That’s why when In see something like this piece by the New York Times‘ public editor in the Sunday Week in Review section, I’m mollified, if just for a little while.

http://popsych.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/back+scratch.jpg

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In addition to noting Jeff Katz’s book about the 1981 season, Tyler Kepner also pointed out a new problem afflicting young fans.

Seems they’re old enough to buy baseball cards and other merchandise, but thanks to the new online-only procedure for voting for the All-Star Game, fans under the age of 13 cannot participate.

http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/ballot77.jpg

While it may sound like great news for the “green community,” not having to print all those ballots, it may be a metaphoric matter of penny wise and pound foolish.

From the column:

Paper Ballot Fallout

Major League Baseball made a logical move this season by eliminating paper ballots for the All-Star Game. Close to 90 percent of all ballots are cast online, the league said, and the decision saves paper and money. Also, without needing to print in advance, the league can include players who were not on opening day rosters, like the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant.

But there is one casualty in the new system: Honest young fans cannot vote on their own on a personal computer. If fans under 13 submit their real birth dates when casting ballots that way, the system replies that they are ineligible to vote, with no reason given.

That is bound to be confusing for would-be voters, who could reasonably conclude that baseball does not care for their opinions or want them involved in the process. The league said it had no choice.

Pat Courtney, the chief communications officer for M.L.B., said that federal law prohibited companies from knowingly collecting personal information online for children under 13 without the consent of a parent or guardian. The league must have a registration process for voting, Courtney said, to prevent hackers from casting mass ballots and disrupting the vote.

The ground rules were different when paper ballots were available at ballparks because no registration was necessary. A better alternative for voters under 13, Courtney said, would be to vote through the M.L.B. AtBat mobile app, which is not subject to the same age restrictions.

Of course, another avenue to voting for a young fan on a personal computer is to submit a false birth date. That would work, too, as an imperfect solution to a streamlined, but not quite flawless, new system.

Baseball is always talking about trying to increase the younger fan base, realizing all the competition it has from other sports and activities. But it seems someone in the office isn’t getting the message.

And what’s with this nonsense about being able to vote up to 35 times? What kind of multimillion dollar studies were done to come up with that number?

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http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/07/25/sports/Y-JP-COOPERSTOWN/Y-JP-COOPERSTOWN-master675.jpg
When I saw Richard Sandomir’s article in The New York Times last year about about Jeff Katz , the Mayor of Cooperstown who writes about baseball, I thought: there but for the grace of God….

My wife, a veterinarian, had a chance to get a job in Cooperstown way back when our daughter was two. While she had her interview, I sat outside with our daughter and just enjoyed being in the surroundings. I’ve always loved the quiet little town nestled in the mountains of upstate New York, but then I had only ever visited in good weather.

As you probably know, my wife didn’t accept the job so I can only wonder if that could have been me: the Jewish mayor of Cooperstown who’s last name begins “Ka…” and who writes about baseball. What a life.

Katz published The Kansas City A’s and the Wrong Half of the Yankees: How the Yankees Controlled Two of the Eight American League Franchises During the 1950s in 2007, before he was in office. This year he’s published the well-received Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5152Xum%2B1EL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI had the opportunity to speak with His Honor before his upcoming visit to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan on Wednesday, May 20. Since I’ll already be in Manhattan for my daughter’s graduation  told you it was way back when), I’ve already made my reservation. I suggest you to the same, since space it limited and the Mayor, who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island will no doubt have a lot of old friends stopping by.

Late entry: The New York Times included another mention of Katz and the book in the May 17 “On Baseball”  column

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The New York Public Library posted this list of five books that concentrate on a single season, including:

Interestingly, aside from the Madden book, none of the selections are older than 1968 even though there are some very good books about earlier seasons, including Cait Murphy’s Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History and David Halberstam’s October 1964 and Summer of ’49, to name just a few.

 

 

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http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327557194l/5354806.jpgAlthough known more for his classic, The Art of Writing Well, William Zinsser — who passed away May 12 at the age of 92 –  also published Spring Training, a “memoir” of the Pittsburgh Pirates in spring training in 1988. Not surprisingly, it was well-received.

Here are the obits from the Washington Post and The New York Times.

And here’s a shot of the author with Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Miller at spring training in 1989.

http://www.williamzinsserwriter.com/images/Zinsser_Pirates.jpg

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I recently compared book excerpts with movie trailers. It’s my contention that the publications concentrate on the most salacious or controversial passages they can find because, let’s face it, people love the dirt.

https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/journeyhome_final_106987585.jpg?w=199&h=300So when you see headlines such as “Jorge Posada bitter toward Yankees management in book,” or “Yankee great Jorge Posada still steamed at how things ended with Bronx Bombers, reveals bitterness in new book ‘The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes’,” you kinda know the paper or magazine or website has cherry-picked to grab them most eyes. You also know that there will probably come a point at which the author might try to deflect when confronted to defend his remarks  (following his comments that PED users — which include former teammates Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez — should not be allowed for Hall of Fame consideration).

Posada recently appeared on The Leonard Lopate Show. Undoubtedly the questions asked there were different than the kind he would have to field on sports-talk radio.

I’m supposed to be reviewing this, along with the new Pedro Martinez memoir for Bookreporter.com in the near future. I’m hoping it’s readable. (Isn’t it sad when that’s the first thing that comes to mind for athlete-written tomes?)

More on Posada and The Journey Home:

  • On ESPN’s Baseball Tonight (why are they standing? Did they not budget for chairs? It looks awkward.)

 

 

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NEW STUFF: 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…

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. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

  1. https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/journeyhome_final_106987585.jpgThe Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes, by Posada with Gary Brozek
  2. Pedro, by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman
  3. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  4. The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers, by Jon Pessah
  5. Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington
  6. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  7. Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud, by Joe Pepitone and Barry Stainback
  8. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams
  9. Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter. (Bookshelf review here).
  10. Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty, by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan

Here’s the latest list of New York Times sports best-seller list (10 plus 10 more). The Martin bio is No. 6 with several other baseball titles making their “debut,” including a couple of surprises. Moneyball is No. 11, following by John Feinstein’s Where Nobody Knows Your Name. Jim Kaat’s If These Walls Could Talk, a collection of Yankees stories, lists at No. 14 while I Never Had it Made originally published by Jackie Robinson in more than 40 years ago, is at No. 18.

Once again, a good portion of the titles are Yankees-centric, with the “debut” of the Posada memoir and the return after 40 years of Pepitone’s book. I don’t remember that one causing such a sensation as many who are writing abut it now, such as Dan Epstein in this piece in Rolling Stone.

Kind of surprised the Molina book ranks so high, although, to be honest, I haven’t read it yet.

Not on either list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. As of this post, the ranking is 776,220, up a tick  from last week’s 847,230, but we can do better so ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right? I just heard via Facebook from a fella who was in my fifth grade class who said he would be buying a copy, so there’s that. Just one or two purchases can move a book up several thousand spots. If you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. There haven’t been any in awhile. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated. And thanks to those who have.

 

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Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. (Actually, I never understood that famous quote from Forrest Gump. If it’s a box of chocolate covered cherries, don’t you know exactly what you’re going to get?)

On the one hand, I’m happy to report that I’m catching up / running out of these old links (some are no longer “with us”). On the other hand, it’s been cool reminiscing.

As a reminder,

I highly recommend Pocket as a way to hold onto links you come that you want to keep. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket keeps the entire page and makes it relative easy for you to find stuff you “pocketed.” I have keepers going back six years — more than 5,000 links — and I’ve decided it’s time to start cleaning house so here are some submitted for your amusement, perusal, and education. Some are not current, but in a sense, they’re timeless. They’re presented in reverse order (oldest first).

  • RonsFantography.com was set up several years ago as a sort of Flickr for baseball fans. Non-pro photographers were asked to submit photos from their trips to the various ballparks. This became the basis for Baseball Fantography: A Celebration in Snapshots and Stories from the Fans, by Andy Strasberg. If you look at the first picture in the second row of this gallery, that’s me with another Ron — Hunt, formerly of the New York Mets and Montreal Expos — taken at an old timers game in 2003.
  • Speaking of the Expos, here’s a French-language book about the team, Il Etait une Fois…Les Expos T02: Les Années 1985-2004. It’s actually the second volume. I’m guessing the other is available as well.
  • Although the season is in full wing, here’s a piece on “Your Off-Season Survival Guide” from SB Nation which just happens to give a link t this humble blog.
  • In 2012, artist Bethany Heck put out a very attractive Eeephus League Magazine on the Issuu site. I haven’t seen one since, which is a shame but I imagine this took a lot of work to create.
  • Long-time readers of this blog know about my fascination with cricket. Right off the Bat contains the best of both bat-and-ball worlds. The hosts, Evander Lomke and Martin Rowe published Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life to go along with the site.

 

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Sometimes I’ll get an email from a writer whom I’ve interviewed for a Bookshelf Conversation, thanking me for the opportunity. Sometimes I get nothing. Meh; what are you gonna do? I just enjoy chatting about the back-story stuff, the creative process.

Occasionally you get something like this.

Thank you, Fred Harris.

http://www.ufunk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/thumbs-and-ammo-5.jpg

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Literary birthday greetings: Yogi Berra

"Oddballs"

The Yog turns 90 today, God bless. I ran this piece four years ago, listing several titles about and (ostensibly) by the Hall of Famer. Except for the age, the info remains valid except for the addition of my NJ neighbor Harvey Araton‘s excellent book, Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest […]

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The Bookshelf Conversation: Fred Harris

2015 title

Sometimes things just work out in surprising fashion. Last week I received an e-mail from Fred Harris to let me know he was re-releasing one of my favorite books, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading And Bubblegum Book, co-written with Brendan Boyd, as an e-book (though previous versions are still available on-line). TGABCFTABB is […]

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Excerpt, excerpt! Read some about it!

2015 title

Publishers occasionally offer excerpts of the books to major newspapers an/or magazines to give potential consumers a free sample of their product.In many cases, the selections are the literary equivalent of movie trailers, picking the most interesting plot points. Often a local publication will give the treatment to a person associated with the market reach. […]

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Japanese baseball then and then

2015 title

Two pieces from Kris Kosaka in The Japan Times on the “national game there and here. First she tells us about Robert Fitts’ new biography on Masanori Murakami, the first baseball player from Japan to play for a Major League team in the U.S. when he appeared for the San Francisco Giants in 1965. Then […]

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Bookshelf review: Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story

2015 title

Originally written for Bookreporter.com. Look for a Bookshelf Conversation with Chris Lucas next week. In fact, there are lots of BCs on the horizon. Up next, Fred Harris, co-author with Brendan Boyd of The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading And Bubblegum Book. Additional conversations will feature Josh Leventhal (A History of Baseball in 100 […]

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Just a song before I go…

"Oddballs"

Guess who has a new tune out about baseball? The song has been getting mixed reviews. Actually, the only “review” I’ve found so far is far from favorable, but since it’s from Deadspin, you have to take that into consideration. That’s it. I’m outta here. Enjoy your Mothers’ Day. Be sociable, share the Bookshelf! Tweet

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Baseball best-sellers, May 8, 2015

2015 title

NEW STUFF: 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… […]

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Throwback Thursday (massive links dump, continued)

2011 title

It’s still Thursday somewhere, right? Got sidetracked yesterday and this slipped my mind. Since I posted the first of these on a Thursday, which is known on social media as a time of reflection, I thought to make it a regular thing under this rubric. These are kind of fun; it’s like a box of […]

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