Monday, April 19, 2010

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports -- SPORTS BOOK REVIEW

“The Eastern Stars” and University of Nebraska Worthies and More
A book filled with wonderful stories. A book that explain the story behind a true baseball phenomenon. A book that is crafted and written with care and zeal by an informed and inspired writer. All of these things are what makes “Eastern Stars” by Mark Kurlansky (Riverhead Books, $25.95) a grand slam treat.

Kurlansky, best selling New York Times author, writer of much fiction and nonfiction about the Caribbean, spins this wondrous tale of the town San Pedro de Macoris and how its legendary baseball team the Eastern Stars changed it.

Part baseball, part travel piece, part Caribbean cultural history, part personal stories of such as Sammy Sosa, Julio Franco, Rico Carty, Tony Fernandez, Alfredo Griffin and others. It is the story of a town that gave by the year 2008 79 players from San Pedro de Macoris to the Major Leagues - -meaning that one in six Dominicans playing in the bigs came from the small town. This is just one of the fascinating themes of “The Eastern Stars,” a book that is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

From the University of Nebraska, an emporium of first class sports books, comes a worthy inventory appealing to all tastes and pocket books.

“Ed Barrow” by Daniel R. Levitt ($21.95,427 pages, paper ) is a page turning bio of the man who built the original and best New York Yankees dynasty.

For Red Sox fans especially there is “Joe Cronin” ($31.95, 382 pages). The book ably covers many facets and features of the ambitious Cronin’s time – player, player-manager, general manager, American League president. Well written and well worth owning.

“Rooney” by Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson and Michael P. Weber ($36.95, 641 pages) is an absorbing and very long account of Art “The Chief” Rooney, Sr. who truly is “Mr. Pittsburgh. Filled with incredible details, “Rooney” gets behind the man and the legend who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933.

“American Hoops” by Carson Cunningham is a 508 page look at U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball From Berlin to Beijing. With so much scope to this work, so many interesting nuggets of information, so much careful research – this is a must read especially for fans of the hoop game.

“Final Innings” compiled and edited by Dean A. Sullivan (Bison Books, $29.95, 344 pages, paper) is a documentary history of baseball 1972-2008. The book is a conclusion to the author’s four-volume documentary history. In essence, Sullivan carefully selected relevant stories from newspapers and periodicals and pieced them together in an engaging and informing narrative.

“Living Out of Bounds” by Steven J. Overman (Bison Books, $18.95, 227 pages, paper) is an insightful look at the everyday life of male athletes.

“Psychology Gets in the Game” edited by Christopher D. Green and Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. (313 pages, paper) is a lengthy treatise via essays on the foundations on which modern sports psychology was created.

From the most intense and informed Philly fan around comes two books from Max Blue “God Is Alive and Playing Third Base for the Appleton Papermakers” (iuniverse, $29.95, 265 pages) and “Phillies Journal 1888-2008, Strategic, $19.95, 534 pages). Both are terrific tomes. The former is madcap, delicious escapist reading that has a little bit of everything and makes a lot of sense (at times). The latter is loaded with a thousand limericks and is chock full of Philly matter – stats, essays, trivia, musings. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of the team and franchise.

“Roger Maris” by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary (Touchstone Books, $26.99, 422) is a workmanlike bio of what the book’s sub-title calls “baseball’s reluctant hero.” Many interviews and much effort expended.

BEST OF THE REST: Now out in paperback from Harper is George F Will’s classic “MEN AT WORK: The Craft of Baseball” ($14.99, 400 pages,) The book is required reading for all those with an interest in the national pastime. Page after page of well chosen and carefully crafted insights into the game of baseball. A MUST OWN!

“It’s What’s Inside the Lines That Counts” by Fay Vincent (Simon and Schuster, $25.00) is another terrific tome in the oral history project orchestrated by the former Baseball Commissioner. This one has baseball stars from the 1970s and 1980s talk and remember the way it was. Such as Tom Seaver, Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith, Dick Williams are included in the book.

Harvey Frommer is in his 34th 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 (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.
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