ESPN The Magazine lists the following baseball titles in its bi-weekly sports best-sellers list:
- Big Papi, by David Ortiz (St. Martin’s Press) (No. 3 overall)
- Opening Day, by Jonathan Eig (Simon and Schuster) (4)
- Clemente, by David Maraniss (Simon and Schuster) (5)
- I Told You I Wasn’t Perfect, by Denny McLain (Triumph) (9)
I spoke with Joseph Rinaldi, director of publicity at St. Martin’s, at the Book Expo America in Manhattan earlier this month about the publisher’s sports line-up. Rinaldi said Papi was doing very well, in part, because Ortiz was so personable and accommodating at book signings. Opening Day is still in the "honeymoon" phase, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut. Clemente has been out for quite awhile, so its staying power is a bit surprising.
The big surprise, however, has to be McLain’s book. After all, aside from his Cy Young seasons and the fact that he won 31 games in 1968, his reputation as a troubled soul — extending well into his retirement (or banishment, depending on your point of view) — supersedes his stardom. Even with all his troubles in recent years, he’s no Pete Rose; it’s hard to conceive that McLain still generates that degree of interest.
Three baseball titles have been nominated for the 2007 Quill Awards, founded by Reed Business Information (Publishers Weekly) to honor the “most entertaining and enlightening titles” each year. This year’s picks were published between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, with the winners in 19 categories to be selected by a popular votes of a voting board comprised of over 6,000 invited booksellers and librarians.
The baseball books received three of the four nominations in the Sports category.
- Ty and The Babe: Baseball’s Fiercest Rivals; A Surprising Friendship and the 1941 Has-Beens Golf Championship, by Tom Stanton (St.Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books)
- Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, by Cait Murphy (HarperCollins/Smithsonian Institution Press)
- The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World, by Joshua Prager (Pantheon Books)
Two items for your consideration:
This new publication (they launched in the summer of 2006) "celebrates the contribution of baseball to American history, culture, and community." It has a fairly impressive cast of contributors, including John Thorn, author and editor of such works as Total Baseball, Treasues of the Baseball Hall of Fame, The Hidden Game of Baseball and The Armchair Book of Baseball. Evan Weiner, a contributing columnist for several newspapers, passes along some of his "sound bytes," audio clips of interviews with some of baseball’s great players, including Al Kaline and Nolan Ryan. Other sections include "The Sandlot," described as an interactive gateway to baseball, and "Extra Bases" for "news, views, and reviews."
In addition to the print edition, 108 also has a blog, written by Jeff Merron, whose March 10 entry features an interview with J.C. Bradbury, author of The Baseball Economist.
This post on Fannation.com is a heartfelt reminiscence of Charles Einstein, author of Willie’s Time and several other pertinent titles, including the popular Fireside Book of Baseball series. Einstein passed away recently at the age of 80.
I have the pleasure of serving as editor for the Society for American Baseball Research Bibliography Committee newsletter.
Herewith are links to recent issues, for your edifcation and amusement:
Issue 1, 2006. Featuring a profile of Thomas Oliphant, author of Praying for Gil Hodges; Reviews of Cooperstown to Dyersville: A Geography of Baseball Nostalgia; Pure Baseball: Pitch by Pitch for the Advanced Fan; A Portrait of Baseball Photography; and The Baseball Bibliography, Second Edition.
Issue 2, 2006. Featuring reviews of Kenesaw Mountain Landis; Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series; Baseball Between the Numbers; and Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball’s Lunatic Fringe.
Issue 3, 2006. Featuring reviews on Baseball in St. Louis 1900– 1925; Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend; Ring Around the Bases: The Complete Baseball Stories of Ring Lardner; Ed Delahanty & The Emerald Age of Baseball; The American Indian Integration of Baseball; and The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime.
Issue 4, 2006. Featuring an author profile on Art Shamsky, author of The Magnificent Seasons, and reviews on The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball; A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball; The Conscience of the Game: Baseball’s Commissioners from Landis to Selig; and The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca, and the Shot Heard Round the World.
Now that Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn have been elected to the Hall of Fame, expect a few new titles to hit the bookshelves in the very near future.
When Ripken was approaching Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, writers worked overtime to mark the event, either in newspaper columns or elsewhere. Books by or about him include Cal Ripken Jr.: My Story (Dial, 1999); Baseball’s Iron Man: Cal Ripken Jr.: A Tribute (Sports Publishing, 2007); Nine Innings with Cal Ripken Jr. (Beckett Publications, 1998); Ironman: The Cal Ripken Jr. Story by Harvey Rosenfeld (St. Martin’s Press, 1995). Ripken has also had a hand in several instructionals, particularly for younger players.
Gwynn never received the ink that Ripken did, despite the fact that he was arguably the better hitter. Still, a couple of books have his name on it, including Tony Gwynn , Mr. Padre, by Barry Bloom (Sports Publishing, 1999) and Tony, by Gwynn and Jim Geschke (McGraw-Hill Contemporary, 1986), and a couple of instructionals, including Tony Gwynn’s Total Baseball Player (with Jim Rosenthal, St. Martin’s Griffin, 1992) and The Art of Hitting (with Roger Vaughan, GT Publishing Corporation, 1998)
Several of those on this years ballot who did not get the nod have already had their stories captured on the page. Herewith a selected and annotated bibliography. The astute reader will not from the release date that many publishers took advantage of a player’s notoriety after a particularly good season or specific event. For example, Jose Canseco‘s Juiced came out immediately prior to his appearance before the Senate Committee hearings on steroids and baseball. Similarly, though less dramatic, Eric Davis‘ Born to Play hit the bookstores after a successful comeback following his battle with colon cancer.
After he broke Roger Maris’ single season record for homers, Mark McGwire was the subject of numerous exciting and colorful books, including Celebrating 70: Mark McGwire’s Historic Season, by Bernie Miklasz (McGraw-Hill Contemporary 1998) and Mark McGwire: Home Run Hero, by Rob Rains (St. Martin’s Press 1999).
Canseco’s tell-all tome, Juiced : Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Basebal l Got Big (Regan Books, 2005), opened the whole can of worms that no doubt contributed to McGwire’s exlcusion this year, and perhaps for the foreseeable future. Canseco makes some pretty outrageous claims and did not endear himself to ex-teammates or fans (or Bud Selig or any of the congressmen, who certainly didn’t ask for that kind of headache). Albert Belle was another whose surly relationship with the writers couldn;t have helped his cause any. Not that he had the numbers anyway, although he was the most feared batter in the game for a time. He tries to explain himself in Don’t Call Me Joey: The Wit and Wisdom of Albert "Joey" Belle (ECW, 1998).
Andre Dawson: Andre Dawson, by Dawson and Tom Bird (Zondervan, 1995). "The Hawk" was a solid leader and gained notoriety for winning the NL MVP award while playing for a last-place Cubs team.
Orel Hershiser: Out of the Blue: Orel Hershiser by Hershiser and Jerry B. Jenkins (Wolgemuth & Hyatt Pub, 1989). This one was released after his standout 1988 season in whiuch he set the new standard of 59 consecutive scoreless innings, a 23-8 record, and MVP awards for the NL Championship Series as well as the World Series. Both Out of the Blue and Between the Lines: Nine Things Baseball Taught Me About Life, written with Robert Wolgemuth (Faithwords 2005) stress his fervent Christian faith.
Tommy John enjoyed a successful career following pioneering surgery by Dr. Frank Jobe. John won 166 games after the procedure that bears his name, to finish with 288 victories in 26 years. He found time to pen three books: The Tommy John Story (F.H. Revell Company, 1978); The Sally and Tommy John Story: Our Life in Baseball (Macmillan, 1983); and TJ: My Twenty-Six Years in Baseball, written with Dan Valenti (Bantam, 1991).
Don Mattingly: The best we can do is a instructional that’s due out this year: Don Mattingly’s Hitting Is Simple: The ABC’s of Batting .300, with Jim Rosenthal, Don Mattingly, Rod Carew, and Joe Torre (St. Martin’s Press)
Paul O’Neill: Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir by O’Neill and Burton Rocks (Harper, 2004), a surprisingly thoughtful effort by a player who was charitably known as a "red ***."
I’ve been meaning to make a list of my baseball library for some time, but found the prospect too daunting. Util recently.
Thanks to Librarything.com, all one has to do is (usually) type in the ISBN number or title and all the info is provided in a nice format of the cataloguer’s choosing. So far, I’ve input over 1,000 titles, not counting magazines, yearbooks, etc., with several hundred more to be entered.
Cataloguing up to 200 titles is free. Anything more than that will cost, as of this writing, either $10 for an annual subscription or $25 for a "lifetime" subscription (whatever that means). It’s any interesting community, seeing who’s reading what, where.
For the curious among you, click here to view my library.