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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Image result for From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great WarHere’s an interview with one of my favorites: Dan Epstein with Clayton Trutor of the Down the Drive blog.

From the Chester County Press, “Steve Potter recently released his book, “2nd Annual Phillies Minor League Digest: A Fan’s View” as a recap to the 2017 minor league season. The book includes team review of each Phillies’ minor league affiliate, a player analysis for top prospects, statistics, and projections.”

Speaking of the Phillies, check out The Dirty Inning podcast which examines “the worst, most obscure and forgotten innings of Phillies baseball.”

Here’s another one of those inquiries about favorite baseball books, this one coming from The Good Phight, another Phillies-centric site.

From South Coast Today, this review of Jim Leeke‘s From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War by FOB (Friend of the Bookshelf) Dennis Anderson.

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http://www.insidesocal.com/tomhoffarth/files/2013/04/Martin-Luther-King-with-Jackie-Robinson.jpg

Previous entries to the Bookshelf on Dr. King include this piece on his baseball connections. And another here. And this one, titled “Baseball and Dr. King.”

Two books published in 2017  — The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age and One Nation Under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime — devote significant narrative regarding King’s assassination and how baseball as players and owners battled back and forth over the proper way to pay respect to the slain civil rights leader.

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The legendary umpire, who did not lack for self-assurance, passed away Saturday at the age of 87.

Doug Harvey, who had been in failing health for a few years, published They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived with veteran baseball journalist Peter Golenbock in 2014. I reviewed that one, along with Al Clark’s Called Out but Safe: A Baseball Umpire’s Journey, for Bookreporter at the time (Dan Schlossberg was co-author for Clark’s memoir).

Here’s Richard Goldstein’s obit for Harvey from today’s New York Times.

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Skip to the relevant part at about 50 seconds…

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I always get a kick out of finding reviews of baseball books in unlikely places. In this case, it’s actually kind of a natural, since this title cross multiple genres.

Even though it touts itself as “The Essential Guide to Movies of the ’60s and ’70s,” CinemaRetro offers this piece on Richard Sandomir’s The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic.

Key points:

  • “This work is an impressive look at not only the making of the film, but also its cultural impact.”
  • “When reading the making of chapters of any book that discusses a film in detail, it’s always interesting to see who emerges as the main characters in the story behind the story. “
  • “Just as the makers of the movie had to deal with the conundrum of trying to figure out how much actual baseball to have in the film, the author of a book about a baseball movie has to balance those two seemingly opposite entities.”

And the upshot: “The Pride of The Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and The Making of a Classic is an excellent book and a great look at the making of what may just be the greatest sports movie of all time.”

You can listen to the Bookshelf Conversation with Richard Sandomir here.

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

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

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

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

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

So, with all that said…

PRINT

  1. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  2. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  3. Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  4. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics
  5. Heads-Up Baseball : Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time
  6. Bill James Handbook 2018
  7. The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond, by Michael Silverman
  8. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams and John Underwood
  9. 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
  10. The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, by Lawrence Ritter

E-BOOK

  1. Moneyball
  2. Saving Babe Ruth, by Tom Swyers
  3. The Bill James Handbook 2018
  4. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen
  5. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  6. Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero, by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary
  7. 2018 NFHS Baseball Rules Book
  8. 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
  9.  Doc: A Memoir, by Doc Gooden and Ellis Henican
  10. Billy Martin: Baseball’s Fl;awed Genius, by Bill Pennington

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

  1. Moneyball (Read by Scott Brick; the top baseball audiobook and #25 overall in sports)
  2. Smart Baseball (Read by Michael Chamberlain, #2/95)

Not much new since last time other than a couple of classics — The Art of Hitting and The Gory of Their Times — returning to the list.

Once again, no baseball titles on the NY Times‘ list either for weekly or monthly. Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ (duh) lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They DieToday: 864,770; last time: 1,480,414. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks 1,075,411 (last time, 578,820). By the way, this article from Sports Collectors Digest puts the Greenberg book at #10 on its list of best baseball books of 2017.

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

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Seems that for the time being, thee quick updates will do until the new releases come out. Still planning on getting back to the Bookshelf Conversations as soon as possible. The first two will feature Rich Cohen, author of The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse, and Sridhar Pappu, author of The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age.

Onward…

Image result for Danny and Mickey, Ordinary HeroesSpeaking of Rich Cohen, here’s a review from the Lincoln Journal Star about his book.Upshot: “Any individual with a remote interest in the Cubs or with a love for the game of baseball will be fortunate to find this book beneath the Christmas tree.” (See below re: my feelings about Christmas-related baseball articles.)

I have a soft spot for books that focus on what I would describe as “home-town heroes,” those that feature players who had a special place in the hearts of fans for a particular team or locale, although they may not have had the superstar impact for a larger audience. One such title is Danny and Mickey, Ordinary Heroes, by Bob McLaughlin, which looks at Danny Murtaugh and Mickey Vernon, natives of Delco, Delaware. Here’s the story from the Delco Times.

Two baseball titles are included in this piece in the Portland Tribune on “Sports Books for Winter Reading”: Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones, and My Oh My — the Dave Niehaus Story, by Billy Mac.

Because inquiring minds want to know: “DC Reveals If Batman Can Hit A Baseball Pitch From Superman.” No spoilers from me.

Yeah, I know. I should have had some entries leading up to the holiday featuring articles that suggested books for gift-giving. So sue me. It’s like making resolutions for the New Year.You don’t need to wait for January 1st to start making improvements. Likewise you can read these books at any time. In this case, the writer is talking primarily about The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, “a delightfully entertaining compendium of the rich history and culture of our national game.”

Former pitcher Mark Littell is about to release his third book. Who knew? This piece comes from the Delta Dunklin Democrat in Kennet, MO, and features the unforgettable line: “Littell has wrote two books….”

Here’s another review by Bill Jordan on the Baseball Reflections site, this one on I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever, by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster. Upshot: “This book is highly recommended as a quick and comical reading for anyone who enjoys baseball and particularly anyone who has ever planned on visiting all of the baseball stadiums.” And one more on Dealing: The Cleveland Indians’ New Ballgame (Inside the Front Office and the Process of Rebuilding a Contender), by Terry Pluto. Upshot: “This book is recommended for all baseball fans, not just those of the Tribe, as it is an interesting look at the process of building a team, regardless of fan affiliation.”

Herewith an excerpt on Bless You, Boys, a Detroit Tigers-centric site from Jim Turvey’s Starting IX: A Franchise-by-Franchise Breakdown of Baseball’s Best Players which looks at the best players at each position for every team in baseball. Frankly, the IX threw me off a bit. When I see that, I immediately think of Title IX, the program tat bars discrimination especially for girls in school sports.

 

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Image result for bob bailey, baseballSadly, the older we get the more we lose the ballplayers we followed when we were kids.

The latest in this group is Bob Bailey, a 17-year veteran who made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1962 at the age of 19. He went on to play for the LA Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, and Boston Red Sox, compiling a .257 batting average with 189, 773 RBIs in 1,931 games.

Bailey died yesterday in Las Vegas at the age of 75. Here’s an obituary from the Long Beach Press Telegram.

 

 

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Here we go again.

Man, is this a dull off-season or what? Aside from the Yankees getting richer with the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, what is has really rocked your socks?

SO, trying to make lemonade out of lemons…

Image result for hank greenberg in 1938Let’s start off with a little shameless self-promotion: Paul Hagen offers this piece — “Looking back at a page-turning year in baseball: Several notable books about America’s pastime were published in ’17” — on MLB.com. I was happily surprised to see that Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War was included.

From NYSportsDay, this review about Aaron Judge: The Incredible Story of the New York Yankees’ Home Run-Hitting Phenom.

From the Houston Chronicle, this preview about Hurricane Season: The Unforgettable Story of the 2017 Houston Astros and the Resilience of a City, written by one of their own, Joe Holley. In addition to being about the Astros’ remarkable campaign, “true to its title, Holley’s book will also set the team’s run against the backdrop of a city recovering from a deluge.”

Here’s a sweet story from the Grand Rapids Gazette about “Former Iowan finishes baseball story for his father who was suffering from dementia.” The book is Fathers, Sons, and the Holy Ghosts of Baseball.

Bill Jordan posted this review about A Hero All His Life, a 1996 biography about Mickey Mantle by his wife Merlyn and son Mickey, Jr. on Baseball Perspectives. Not very favorably, either: “The book lacked any real entertaining qualities. If you’re a big fan of Mickey Mantle and you want to have the perspective on his life from his closest family members, then read this book. If not, there’s no point in doing it. The family spends most of the book talking about terrible things Mickey did that left their lives in shambles and the rest of the book attempting to explain why it wasn’t his fault.”

Jordan also reviewed Murder at Fenway Park, by Troy Soos, one of my favorite writers of historical fiction. Upshot: “The work was brief and entertaining. Something that might be suitable for a holiday read or as a nice paperback to take to the beach. It doesn’t lack in story line or plot, but at times seems to confuse itself with the amount of characters it attempts to have woven into a relatively brief story.”

Two baseball biographies — Marty Appel’s Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character and Paul Dickson’s Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son — were included, somewhat incongruously, on this list of the year in books via the National Review.

Should have done this as a “Lest We Forget” piece, but Dick Enberg, one of my favorite announcers, passed away recently. I wonder what kind of bump that will do for his books like Being Ted Williams: Growing Up with a Baseball Idol. Here’s his obituary from The New York Times, contributed by Richard Sandomir. Enberg was also the host for one of my favorite TV shows, Sports Challenge.

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A couple of months ago, I posted about some of the new books being published in 2018. Since then, Amazon has put up a few more titles. You’re welcome.

In order of release, and sticking to the same restrictions as I have often stated…

  • Image result for September 1918: War, Plague, and the World SeriesThe Science of Baseball: Modeling Bat-Ball Collisions and the Flight of the Ball, by A. Terry Bahill (Springer)
  • The Zobrist Family: Look What God Can Do, by Tom Zobrist and Ben Zobrist (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.)
  • Baseball Prospectus 2018
  • The New York Yankees 1936–39: Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Baseball’s Greatest Dynasty, by Stanley Cohen (Skyhorse)
  • The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago White Sox: A Decade-by-Decade History, by Chicago Tribune Staff
  • The Baseball Fan’s Treasury of Quotations: Wisdom from the Legends of America’s Favorite Pasttime (sic; not off to a great start if you can misspell the title) (Hatherleigh Press)
  • The Baseball Glove: History, Material, Meaning, and Value, by David Jenemann (Routledge; This one weighs in at an amazing $150 for a 120-page book)
  • Baseball Cop, by Anonymous (Hachette Books; including it here simply because there’s no information on this one at all. Is it fiction? Non-fiction? YA? Who knows?)
  • Astroball: How a Gang of Outsiders Went Beyond Stats to Win the World Series, by Ben Reiter (Crown Archetype; I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little faux-Moneyball fatigue here)
  • September 1918: War, Plague, and the World Series, by Skip Desjardin (Regnery History)

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

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

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

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

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

So, with all that said…

PRINT

  1. Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics
  2. Baseball Prospectus 2018
  3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
  4. Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  5. The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci
  6. 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
  7. The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse, by Richard Cohen
  8. Baseball America 2018 Almanac
  9. Bill James Handbook 2018
  10. Heads-Up Baseball : Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time

E-BOOK

  1. Moneyball
  2. Saving Babe Ruth, by Tom Swyers
  3. Eddie and the Gun Girl, by Mark Kram Jr.
  4.  Doc: A Memoir, by Doc Gooden and Ellis Henican
  5. 2018 NFHS Baseball Rules Book
  6. 2017 Little League® Baseball Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies: Tournament Rules and Guidelines for All Divisions of Little League® Baseball
  7. Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero, by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary
  8. 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
  9. The Bill James Handbook 2018
  10. The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, by Mike Methany and Jerry B. Jenkins

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

  1. Moneyball (Read by Scott Brick; the top baseball audiobook and #30 overall in sports)
  2. Smart Baseball (Read by Michael Chamberlain, #2/58)
  3. The Methany Manifesto (Read by Jerry B. Jenkins; #3/86)

Here we go: five of the top 10 print titles recap the previous season and look forward to the new one.

No baseball titles on the NY Times‘ list either for weekly or monthly. Not on either the Amazon or Times‘ (duh) lists? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They DieToday: 1,480,414; last time: 1,349,143. Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War ranks 578,820 (last time, 178,842).

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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Baseball Best-Sellers, December 29, 2017

"Annuals"

By now most of you are familiar with my caveats, so I’ll just mention them briefly: The list includes only print editions of books; calendars (even though Amazon includes them on their lists), no audiobooks (as much as I enjoy them), and no kindle (because I’m old school). Second, since the rankings are updated every […]

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Lest we forget: Mamie “Peanut” Johnson

Lest We Forget

If African-American ballplayers had a terrible go of it, can you imagine what female African-American ballplayers had to deal with? From the New York Times‘ obituary by Daniel E. Slotnick Mamie Johnson, one of a handful of women to play in baseball’s Negro leagues in the early 1950s — and the only one known to […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, December 15, 2017

"Annuals"

By now most of you are familiar with my caveats, so I’ll just mention them briefly: The list includes only print editions of books; calendars (even though Amazon includes them on their lists), no audiobooks (as much as I enjoy them), and no kindle (because I’m old school). Second, since the rankings are updated every […]

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Lest we forget: Tracy Stallard

Lest We Forget

If not for the late pitcher, we wouldn’t have any books about 61, Roger Maris, or asterisks. Stallard passed away Dec. 7 at the age of 80. Here’s the NY Times obituary from Richard Goldstein. After making his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1960, Stallard — a 6’5 righty — also played for […]

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Detective Story

Guest column

No, not the 1951 feature film starring Kirk Douglas, William Bendix, and Eleanor Parker… Recently I posted about a scene from The FBI Story, a 1959 flick starring that thespian baseball standout Jimmy Stewart, which depicted a banner headline from the Washington Post announcing a Babe Ruth Home run. Jim Meier, the retired librarian for The […]

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What am I bid…?

Uncategorized

For a collection of books about baseball in the 1930s? Here’s your chance at this on-line auction. However, there’s no list of the exact titles and if this picture — which accompanies the bidding — is any indication, the books are not just about that era. And here’s the caveat from the site: ” This […]

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Baseball Best-Sellers, December 2, 2017

"Annuals"

By now most of you are familiar with my caveats, so I’ll just mention them briefly: The list includes only print editions of books; calendars (even though Amazon includes them on their lists), no audiobooks (as much as I enjoy them), and no kindle (because I’m old school). Second, since the rankings are updated every […]

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Pop Quiz!

2016 title

Take a look at this book, which my wife is currently reading, and tell me its connection to baseball pop culture.

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Bookshelf Review: The Jewish Baseball Card Book

2017 Title

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the Jewish sports fan, you can’t do much better than The Jewish Baseball Card Book, by Bob Wechsler. Based on the popular Jewish card sets produced by Martin Abramowitz (who helped on the project along with Peter McDonald), this coffee table edition features photos and brief stories […]

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