THE BOOK REVIEW
The idea was rare, simple if a bit macabre - a book about how many former major league baseball players met their fate. Or as the sub-title of the tome states: "Salacious, Sad and Surreal Deaths in the History of Baseball." That is the story of "Bury My Heart at Cooperstown" by Frank Russo and Gene Racz (Triumph, $14.95, 261 pages). The gang's not all here, not yet, but there are stories galore of the Yankees of Murderers Row, of suicides, of those too young to die, of tragic and sudden demises. For me (finishing up the next Harvey Frommer sports book that has him amply covered) the most moving story was of Eddie Bennett, Yankee hunchbacked batboy and good luck charm. The guy who guarded and fondled the bats of the great 1927 Yankees, hit by a cab, after weeks of very heavy drinking, he died in his rented room of alcoholism on January 16, 1935. He was just 32 years old. It is stories like these and others that make "Bury My Heart at Cooperstown" a memorable read! And for further involvement with this subject matter check out the site: the deadballera.com and From the University of Nebraska Press comes three books with interesting baseball angles: "Three Finger" by Cindy Thomson and Scott Brown ($26.95, 250 pages) about legendary hurler Three Finger Brown, "Baseball's Natural" by John Theodore ($14.95, 136 pages) about Eddie Watikus of the Philadelphia Phillies and "Baseball Without Borders" edited by George Gmelch ($19.95, 326 pages). As always the price for U. of Nebraska Press books is a bit inflated, but the works are carefully produced.
HIGHLY NOTABLE: "Coach," (Warner, $14.99, 285) a wonderful and moving read reviewed by your diligent reviewer when it was in hardcover is now in paperback. Edited by Andrew Blauner with a foreword by Bill Bradley, the terrific tome has 25 writers musing on sports people who made a difference in their lives. For those among you into oral history and into pro football - "Hail Victory" by Thom Loverro (Wiley, $24.95, 302 pages) should be right up there on your sports bookshelf. Filled with insights galore, stories by such as Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Jacoby, George Pepper and other eloquent tellers of tales - this multiple memoir of the Washington Redskins is fabulous!