Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Roundup (Part III) SPORTS BOOK REVIEW


The baseball season moves along and so does the publication of all manner of books on the national pastime from all levels of publishers. All of this happening reveals the tremendous depth of the sport, the myriad manners in which to view it.

Batting in first position is “Cuban Star” by Adrian Burgos, Jr. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00, 302 pages) about “Alex” Pompez - -the man who was the preamble to the great run of Latin baseball players that are on the scene today. Funny, poignant, dramatic, filled with all kinds of insights, “Cuban Star” is a full fledged bio of the Pompez who was finally admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He cut his bones, as they say, with gambling revenue to finance and keep afloat the team he owned the -- New York Cubans. In short, he was number one in Harlem’s numbers scene. He also was a pioneer later on in his career working for the San Francisco Giants as a scout and bringing to the team standout Latin American stars. The book is a keeper.

"Baseball Codes" by Jason Turbow (Anchor Sports $15.00, 304 pages) is now in paperback. I liked it in hard cover and I still like it. A revealing look through the eyes of the players - - "inside baseball."
"The Runmakers" by Frederick E. Taylor (Johns Hopkins University Press, $24.95, 272 pages) is a breakthrough look at the way evaluations in baseball have always beenpart of the scene. Taylor's first book is a home run. He has created a formula "bases per plate appearance" to measure the efficiency and greatness of hitters. If you are into the game - - -you will be into the book's potential runs per game (PRG) measurement tool.

“56” by Kostya (Sports Illustrated Group, $26.95, 367 pages) is once more to 1941 and Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. It is a many times told story but there is a good re-playing of the legend and the times he lived in.

NOTABLE: Though not a baseball book, "Wimbeldon" by David Green sub-titled "101 Reasons to Love the Greatest Tournament in Tennis" (Abrams, $18.95, more than 100 pages) is a concise and cleverly crafted look at a sports phenomenon and a showcasing of British culture so much in the air nowadays. Much to like from the careful research to the excellent imagery and the trivia and factoids sprinkled throughout.

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: SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.FOLLOW Harvey on Twitter: He is available for speaking engagements.

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