Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Reads, 2007: Part I:

“The Best Game Ever,” “Connie Mack,” “The Ultimate Yankees Companion,” etc.

Just in time for hot stove league reading, off season entertainment, sitting before the fire, browsing and or serious reading comes a bevy of books. All have a lot to offer.
This blurb on the back cover of “The Best Game Ever,” by Jim Reisler (Carroll & Graf, $26.00, 280 pages) reads: “A home run of a book! Jim Reisler has a terrific eye for details, a wonderful way with words. He’s done the best job ever with “The Best Game Ever!” That’s a heck of a blurb and really sums up the book and Reisler. I should know. I wrote the blurb. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

“Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball” by Norman Macht (University of Nebraska Press, $39.95, 708 pages) is a mother lode of data, stories, perceptions about one of the legendary figures in the history of the national pastime. Like a fine wine, “Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball” brings back Mack as player, manager, owner. If you are into baseball, get into this tome.

John Grisham once was cut from his college baseball team, but that is another story. Somehow, he has managed to make a living in another field. His 19th novel “Playing For Pizza (Doubleday, $26.95, 262 pages) will delight his fans and fans in general, telling as it does a charming tale of Rick Dockery, former third string qb of the Cleveland Browns who “makes it” playing in Italy for the magnificent Parma Panthers. Read this love of a book in one sitting!

“The Ultimate Yankees Companion” edited by Gary Gillette and Pete Palmer (Maple Street Press, $24.95, 388 pages) is as its sub-title proclaims: “A Complete Statistical and Reference Encyclopedia.” Gillette and Palmer and their talented team have served up feasts
for Yankee fans having produced a book with all matter of Bronx Bomber material. This is a book to place on your bookshelf and go to often - - as Casey Stengel said: “You could look it up” and that surely goes for “The Ultimate Yankees Companion”.

One wouldn’t think that a slim paperback focused on “Haunted Baseball” by Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon (Lyons Press, $14.95, 275 pages) would have so much appeal. But the book is nifty focusing as it does on ghosts, curses, legends and eerie events that have been a part of the national pastime. I was especially attracted to the chapter “The Ghosts of Yankee Stadium.” I wonder why.

BOOKENDS: Interesting sports paperbacks from the University of Nebraska Press include:” A Season in Purgatory by Tony Moss about Villanova and as the sub-tile notes “life in college football’s lower class; “Tricksters in the Madhouse” by John Christgau, a meticulous flashback to February 19, 1948 – Minneapolis Lakers versus Harlem Globetrotters for the “unofficial world championship” before blacks played in pro basketball; “The Poetics of Golf” by Andy Brumer is just that and if you are a golfer, a fan of the game, read this book and enjoy!