Book Review: The Immortals
'The Immortals' is a one-of-a-kind book.
'The Immortals' is a one-of-a-kind book.
In baseball literary circles, 2010 will be remembered as the year of the biography. We had noteworthy releases this year on Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Joe Cronin, and Charles Radbourn. Roger Maris fell short of Cooperstown, but the new bio on him ranks right up there with the other greats, as does that of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who appeared for the first time on the veteran's committee ballot this fall.
'Steinbrenner' gives insight into complex man.
Two new books celebrate baseball in the 1970s. In "When the Game Changed: An Oral History of Baseball's True Golden Age: 1969-1979" George Castle taps the men who played and managed to tell the era's story in their own words. Dan Epstein tries to infuse some hipness while summarizing the decade's happenings in "Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s."
James Bailey picks the top 10 books of the year.
Tony Okun does a wonderful job of personifying the struggle to make it through the minor leagues in his documentary "Time in the Minors." The video, which was mostly shot during the 2006 season, follows the progress of veteran minor league infielder Tony Schrager and Indians '05 supplemental first-rounder John Drennen, an outfielder.
The seeds for "Diamond Ruby" were planted in history, more than 70 years ago. In a 1931 exhibition game between the Chattanooga Lookouts and New York Yankees, a 16-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a combined total of seven pitches. For her troubles she was rewarded with a ban by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Joseph Wallace, intrigued by Mitchell's story, borrowed her fastball and spirit for Ruby Thomas, the plucky heroine of his new novel. Ruby's story, however, is not Jackie Mitchell's story. In fact, Wallace set the tale in early 1920s Brooklyn, giving Ruby a shot at the Babe nearly a decade before Jackie's 15 minutes of fame occurred.
Jane Leavy's new book manages to break new ground on Mickey Mantle, a star who has already been extensively covered by the media for 50 years.
New book '1921' looks back at when the Yankees' dynasty was just getting started.
"Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert" is a very well done look at how baseball took steps toward integration before Jackie Robinson.
When it comes to baseball's racial pioneers, we think of men like Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and Roy Campanella. Going back even further, Moses Fleetwood Walker played with Toledo in the American Association in 1884. All were African American men who played in what had been exclusively white leagues. Jerry Craft broke the color barrier moving in the opposite direction.
Veteran author Allen Barra, whose credits include biographies on Yogi Berra and Paul "Bear" Bryant, traces Rickwood's history in "Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark."
For nearly 150 years, the debate has raged: Who is the fastest pitcher the game has ever known? Tim Wendel tackles the question in "High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time."
Thanks in part to the Honus Wagner card, one of the rarest collectibles in any sport, the T206 set has achieved an almost mythical status over the past century among baseball card collectors. Put out by the American Tobacco Company from 1909-11, the cards were inserted in various cigarette brands as promotional items. Now, 100 years later, these tiny ads that were given away for free are highly sought by collectors willing to pay princely sums for the portraits of Hall of Famers in good condition. A well-kept Wagner went for $2.8 million at auction in 2007.
Panas creates a useful guide to all the newer statistics
A new Reggie Jackson biography breaks little new ground, thanks in part to a lack of players willing to talk about him.
On a cool, rainy May night in 1984, the Red Sox honored two of the franchise's greatest players by retiring their numbers in a pregame ceremony. Ted Williams and Joe Cronin were the first players ever so recognized by the team, and while they were beloved by the city of Boston, fewer than 10,000 fans showed up for a game that was eventually rained out. Among the crowd was a young Mark Armour, who had no inclination at that time that a quarter century later he would pen Cronin's biography, "Joe Cronin, A Life in Baseball."
Jeff Gillenkirk didn't originally set out to write the best baseball novel to hit bookshelves in several years.
The concept of "Top of the Order" is a good one: "25 writers pick their favorite baseball players of all time." Original, never-before-published essays on 25 baseball heroes. How can you go wrong? Well, there is a way.
For all Willie Mays did, on the field and off, no one ever captured the breadth of his contributions. Until now. James S. Hirsch's "Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend" is the first authorized biography of baseball's most complete player, and it builds on everything that has come before it. Here is Mays as a youngster growing up in starkly segregated Alabama, as an anxious rookie convinced he doesn't belong in the big leagues, and as a reluctant superstar, skeptical of the motives of everyone who approaches him.