“Baseball in the Garden of Eden” by John Thorn (Simon and Schuster,$26.00, 365 pages) has as its sub-title “The Secret History of the Early Game.” In what can be viewed as a book that is part detective story, part investigative reporting, part labor of love - - and all eye-opener, the acclaimed baseball historian tells it like it was and is.
If you are still under the impression that Abner Doubleday invented baseball, forget about it. If you are still under the impression that Alexander Joy Cartwright invented the national pastime, forget about it. Check out with John Thorn showing the way -- Daniel Lucius Adams, William Rufus Wheaton and Louis Fenn Wadsworth.
Thorn begins his ground breaking tome: “In Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, heroine Catherine Morland comments, ‘I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention.’”
That opening paragraph sets the tone for Thorn’s trip and ours through a tangled web of baseball’s beginnings. Pathos, humor, wit punctuate the pages of “Baseball in the Garden of Eden.” A MUST READ
From Neil Lanctot comes “Campy” (Simon and Schuster, $28.00, 516 pages). A bit padded, a bit meandering, the book does bring back as its sub-title states “the two lives of Roy Campanella.”
“Derek Jeter From the Pages of the New York Times” (Abrams, $29.95, 224 pages) is a keeper. It is also a truly original kind of sports book – I should know having reviewed thousands of them since the 1980s. This terrific tome draws upon nearly 5,000 news articles and features from the New York Times and nearly 100 color photographs. It also showcases a fabulous intro by Tyler Kepner that begins: Derek Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan next to a baseball field. Every day, just behind his backyard, it was there, calling him to play. And so he did, and he has never stopped.” HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
A bit off the beaten path is “”Pitching in the Promised Land” by Aaron Pribble (University of Nebraska Press, $24.95, 238 pages). The book is filled with anecdotes, amazing happenings -- as then 27-year-old Pribble interacts with a zany cast of characters who wanted to be part of the first (and last) season in the Israel Baseball League. The author had many unique times – falling in love with a beautiful Yemenite Jew, being exposed to an alleged terrorist opening day attack, finding himself a part of what can be viewed as the ultimate baseball fantasy camp. WORTH READING.
Harvey Frommer is in his 36th consecutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 41 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 was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." Frommer's newest work is REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION (Abrams) Read all about it: http://harveyfrommersports.com/remembering_fenway/
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FOLLOW Harvey on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd. He is available for speaking engagements.