Saturday, November 14, 2009
The Book Review: “The First Fall Classic,” Heroes & Ballyhoo,” Ron Darling’s “The Complete Game” and more . . .
The economy is bad. The complaints abound that book publishing is in trouble. All kinds of other media seems to be parading to center stage. With all of this, sports books of all kinds - - historical, autobiographical, anaylitical, inspirational - -keep on coming. And for the most part, we are all the better for it.
“The First Fall Classic” by Mike Vaccaro (Doubleday, $26.95, 290 pages) was of special interest to me having just completed my REMEMBERING (or CELEBRATING, title is still being discussed) FENWAY PARK due out in 2010 and having devoted a segment of it to the 1912 World Series between the Red Sox and NY Giants. My mission was not to go into depth on that landmark series, but we are fortunate that it was the mission of NY Post sports columnist Vaccaro. We are there with John J. McGraw, Christy mathewson, Tris Speaker, Smoky Joe Wood and the others in a riveting read. If you like careful research and old time baseball, go for “The First Fall Classic”
Spaking of old time sports, another winner is “Heroes and Ballyhoo” by Michael K. Bohn (Potomac, $27.50, 320 pages). I read the book before it was a book and praised it thusly with these words which now appear on the back cover. “Hype, hoopla, and histrionics characterized American sports in the 1920s, as well as all kinds of talented and unusual characters. Michael Bohn’s “Heroes and Ballyhoo” is a treatise, a tribute and a tip of the cap to that special time. Carefully researched and written, this book belongs on your sports bookshelf.”
Bill James iis still out there cranking out a lot of the same stuff he has been giving us for many years now – his “Handbook,” 2010 edition (Acta, $23.95, 514 paperback pages) is a niagara of baseball nuggets.
Ron Darling’s “The Complete Game,” Knopf, $24.95, 272 pages) is part memoir, part rumination on the rigors and rewards of pitching, part self indulgent “and then I did that…” If you are a fan of the NY Mets and /or Darling you will enoy the “The Complete Game,” completely. For others, the book is highly optional
“Heart of the Game” by S. L. Price (Ecco, $24.99, 306 pages) traces the lives of two minor leaguers in a heart breaking account of hope and disappointment, pain and prevailing, resiliency and reward. Thr book’s sub-title is “Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America” and it all about that. Price has created a very worthy read.
For all the Andre Agassi fans out there and they add up to a multitude – “OPEN” by the tennis legend (Knopf, $27.95, 386 pages) is an ace! Front stage, back stage, on the court and off the court, “OPEN” is all we would expect from the outspoken, thoughtful, talented crowd pleaser. There is gossip and there is game; there is the very young Agassi (a heart wrenching childhood) and the older Agassi like Frank Sinatra replaying romantic get togethers. No one is spared in the book, least of all its author, and we are all the better for it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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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." Frommer’s newest work an oral and narrative history of Fenway Park will be published in 2010.
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.