Monday, March 02, 2009

Spring Baseball Books Part II: “Under The March Sun,” “Becoming Manny,” “As They See ‘Em,” “Hardball Times Season Preview 2009”

All sizes, all shapes and for all tastes and budgets the spring 2009 parade of books about different aspects of the national pastime keep coming. Some are from famous authors and major publishers with some advertising and marketing muscle behind them. Others are by first time of little known authors from mid-level or small houses. All have something to offer – especially if you are a baseball fan.

“Definitive, fascinating, a groundbreaking cultural and sports history of spring training from humble origins to mega-million status today. A winner.” Those are the words I used to blurb “Under The March Sun” by Charles Fountain (Oxford University Press ($24.95, 336 pages) when I first came into contact with the work before it was an actual book. I feel the same way about it now. Fountain has created a fountainhead of work from the phenomenon’s origins in the 19th century to the present – this is a home run of a book filled with anecdotes, facts, facets bound to illuminate and entertain.

“Becoming Manny” is the effort of Dr. Jean Rhodes, the world’s leading expert on youth mentoring and a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Shawn Boburg, a reporter at the Record in New Jersey. Published by Scribner, priced at $25.00, 304 pages – this carefully crafted work - - the result of unlimited access to Manny Ramirez and his family, friends, teammates and handlers is fascinating stuff about the man many view as the Greta Garbo of baseball. What you see is often not what you get. In the crass and common world of gee whiz biographies, this combo bio and autobiography reveals much about a gifted and sensitive athlete and the world he lives in. Its sub-title proclaims: “Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger” and that it is. NOTABLE!

“As They See ‘Em,” Scribner, $26.00, 352 pages) is an inside book compiled by author Bruce Weber after talking with about one third of the umpires who plied their tough trade 2006-2008 - - and that is only part of this effort.

Weber, who has been with The New York Times in various roles since the mid 1980s, reveals a journalist’s curiosity and a fan’s zeal as he ranges far and wide over issues, icons, irritations and insights. If the wide world of umpires is your dish – this is the book for you.

“Hardball Times Season Preview 2009” (Acta Sports, $19.95, 296 pages) is a bargain for all it has to offer. A think tank of analyses, graphs, stats, essays, projection and commentaries for over a thousand players and all 30 MLB teams – this is a mother and father lode of all stuff baseball for the new season.

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010) Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

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