Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Book Review : “Big League Ballparks,” “Fifty-Nine in ‘84” and more

It is March and the new baseball season is just over the horizon. Like spring bulbs popping up, an avalanche of worthwhile sporting reads crowd the shelves of bookstores and also my desk, the floor around it, and every nearby surface.

Priced just right by Sterling Publishers ,($29.98), 512 jam packed pages long and all in color, over-sized and hard to lift - -“Big League Ballparks” by Gary Gilette and Eric Enders with Stuart Shea and Matthew Silverman is a grand slam home run of a baseball book.

Complete, compelling, class – this is a terrific tome that in words, stats and pictures showcases and gives mini-histories of each major league ballpark. As the author of REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM and the forthcoming CELEBRATING FENWAY PARK, I know my way around the subject. So do the authors who should have asked me for a blurb.

“Fifty-Nine in ‘84” by Edward Achorn (Harper, $25.99, 384 pages) is a work that starkly contrasts with “Big League Ballparks” but is no less worthy of a place on your sports bookshelf. Achorn brings back as the book’s sub-title proclaims:“Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had.” We are there in 1884 in a world of baseball and a world very different from today – the game played without a fielder’s glove with a hard ball by some very hard guys.

“Baseball Prospectus 2010” edited by Steven Goldman and Christina Kahl (Wiley, $25.95, 306 pages, paper) has everything most would want to know about the upcoming season - essays, commentary on all the teams, managers, players – one of extraordinary interest is on Albert Pujols – “Can he be this awesome forever?” A mother lode of everything baseball.

From Lyons Press comes the paperback “Baseball’s Ultimate Power by Bill Jenkinson ($17.95, 335 pages) which ranks the all-time greatest distance home run hitters. Players photos and aerial ballpark images complement the author’s text as he ruminates and estimates and evaluates “tape measure home runs” and other big bops.

“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall (Knopf, $24.95, 287 pages) is a fascinating book focused on so many obsessed and enriched by the running game. Superathletes, a hidden tribe and the greatest race the world has never seen are just a few of the amazing components of this highly readable book by the author who does his own running among the Amish farms around his home in rural Pennsylvania.

MOST NOTABLE: What an idea – from Dover Publications, often referred to as “The Little Book Publisher That Could.” This preservationist publisher seeks out titles that are often out-of-print and publishes them with very affordable prices in beautifully produced paperbacks. (More later)

Upcoming: In June May - - “Reggie Jackson” by Dayn Perry (William Morrow)

Harvey Frommer is in his 34th consecutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 40 sports books 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 CELEBRATING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION is next.
HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

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