December 12, 2013
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Books and Authors Articles
Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Books and Authors .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
12/12/2013: The Screwball: The voice of summerby Azure Texan
12/12/2013: The all-decade team: best of the bestby Richard Barbieri
12/11/2013: Alone on the pedestal, Part 2by Jason Linden
12/11/2013: The Applegate factorby Shane Tourtellotte
12/10/2013: All about the latest Bill James Handbookby Dave Studeman
12/10/2013: Though night may fall, play ball!by Frank Jackson
12/10/2013: Roy Halladay retiresby Jeff Moore
12/09/2013: Leverage Index by inningby Dave Studeman
12/09/2013: How far are the Mariners from relevancy?by Brad Johnson
12/09/2013: Prince Halby Chris Jaffe
12/09/2013: Three underrated acquisitionsby Pat Andriola
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
11/26/2013: MLB’s coffers are overflowingby Greg Simons
11/26/2013: The role of prospects in tradesby Jeff Moore
11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
11/20/2013: Welcome to the birthplace of… someone elseby Jason Linden
11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
11/18/2013: THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographsby Dave Studeman
11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
11/18/2013: Must See MLB.TV 2013by Dave Studeman
11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
11/11/2013: The rise of the middle-aged managerby Chris Jaffe
11/08/2013: Player-A-Day: Josmil Pintoby Brad Johnson
11/08/2013: Hall monitor: The case for Andruw Jonesby Chad Dotson
11/07/2013: Big leaguers, bit partsby Azure Texan
11/07/2013: Player-A-Day: Nathan Eovaldiby Brad Johnson
11/06/2013: If he’d only gotten another shotby Jason Linden
11/06/2013: Player-A-Day: David DeJesusby Brad Johnson
11/05/2013: Player-A-Day: David Ortizby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Dariel Abreuby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: The Boston (Braves) Marathon of 1928by Frank Jackson
11/04/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about birthdays in 2013by Chris Jaffe
11/01/2013: Taking the close pitch with two strikesby James Gentile
11/01/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Don Baylorby Bruce Markusen
11/01/2013: The best rookies of the ‘50sby Chad Dotson
10/31/2013: The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Player-A-Day: Jon Lesterby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
10/30/2013: The effect of seeing pitchesby Jon Roegele
10/29/2013: Putting the knock on pitching changesby Joe Distelheim
10/29/2013: Player-A-Day: Ryan Howardby Brad Johnson
10/29/2013: Losing momentum in the sixth gameby Dave Studeman
10/29/2013: Previewing the fall Stars gameby Jeff Moore
10/28/2013: Player-A-Day: Travis Woodby Brad Johnson
10/28/2013: Marquis Grissom: Mr. October Jr.by Frank Jackson
10/25/2013: The blackballing of Dick Dietzby Bruce Markusen
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Xander Bogaertsby Brad Johnson
10/24/2013: The Screwball: Put it in neutral?by Azure Texan
10/24/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘00sby Richard Barbieri
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Michael Wachaby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
10/22/2013: Where does David Price fit?by Jeff Moore
10/22/2013: Survey says?!?!?by Greg Simons
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September 13, 2012
THT book review: Yankee MiraclesYankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers is Ray Negron's story of a career spent in baseball, mostly with the New York Yankees, and how some of the biggest names in Yankees history impacted his life. It is an unapologetically biased retelling of relationships Negron built throughout his years in the organization. While the book covers controversial episodes in the club's amazing history, dating from the mid-1970s to now, the descriptions come from an employee who never stopped being a fan, and as a result, there's not much insight beyond glowing recounts of player and manager personalities.
Negron was a native New Yorker, and as noted, a rabid Yankee fan. The story of how he came to work for the Yankees is indeed compelling. George Steinbrenner, shortly after purchasing the Yankees, caught Negron spray painting graffiti on the outside of the Stadium in 1973. In lieu of calling the cops, Steinbrenner instead allowed the boy to work off the damages as a way to pay for his misdeed. So what started as a temporary stint as batboy and gopher to pay off a debt, became a full-time stint as bat boy and gopher for cash, opportunities for a career in baseball, and the chance to hang out with some really cool dudes.
So while the hook is there for a good story, Yankee Miracles reads a little like the autobiography of a character that is a bizarre mix of Forrest Gump, William Miller, and Bobby Savoy. You may recall that in Forrest Gump, a history story is told through the eyes of a man who ends up in the middle of historic events. Likewise, Negron was there when Reggie Jackson hits three home runs in the Game Six of the 1977 World Series, and encouraged the slugger to go out and tip his hat, which Jackson finally did against his will. He was also there earlier that season when Jackson and Yankee manager Billy Martin argued in the dugout during a nationally televised game.
Where William Miller got caught up in the decadent life led by rock stars in Almost Famous, Negron was running with some of the biggest celebrities in sports, who could often party like rock stars. Negron even became the quintessential batboy when he went beyond picking out a good piece of lumber for Lou Piniella by helping the All-Star fix his swing through the use of video analysis. Through it all, he is teased by some players and befriended by others and loved it all unconditionally.
As further evidence, Steinbrenner comes off as a sort of life coach even though it doesn't seem they spent a great deal of time together. The respect and admiration Negron holds for the former Yankees owner is highlighted in every passage he writes. Even as he relays a humbling, and borderline abusive, incident in which Steinbrenner fired Negron for no reason only to rehire him hours later, the latter still can't muster much negativity toward his former mentor. Nearly every description of Steinbrenner is favorable, down to the neatness of his clothes and hair. Of course, most of that likely stems from the gratitude the author always had for his boss for not only sparing him punishment for vandalism, but for also for "the Boss" letting Negron continue to hang around his heroes.
Negron may have got his start with the Yankees by painting the side of the building, but with this book, he has spent the past few months trying to paint a picture of all that is right in the world being made manifest inside the Yankee organization. Not that the ugly episodes are left out completely, it's just that they've been tinted by Negron's set of rosy glasses he uses to view an organization that he obviously still loves. Chapter 7, one in which Negron spends 11 pages rehabilitating Alex Rodriguez' image, is probably the best example of the author's bias toward his friends in the New York organization.
A-Rod is extolled for working hard in practice and lending time and money to local youth groups. When it comes to the controversial slugger's use of steroids or attempts to slap a ball out of an opponent's glove during the playoffs, readers are constantly reminded that the press had it in for Rodriguez and that all of his actions are overly criticized.
But, while he glosses over Rodriguez so much that it often feels forced, his recollection of working with Billy Martin comes across much more sincere and candid. Martin's notably flaws are duly noted, but so are Negron's feelings for the former manager, and the loss he felt when Martin died on Christmas day in 1989.
Getting past the obvious affection Negron still feels toward those he's worked with, there are some nice little stories many fans who were children in the 1970s may enjoy. In addition, he spends considerable time relaying stories of Thurman Munson, including the tragic story of the plane crash that took the Yankee legend's life. Negron relives the night New York played their first game after the accident and writes of the unbelievable amount of support and adulation fans expressed.
As a nine year old, I was at Tiger stadium for a Twi-Night doubleheader on August 3, the night after Munson's accident. They had a moment of silence there, as they did in every stadium in baseball that night, I'd imagine. Reading about it in Yankee Miracles reminded me of the awe I felt as a child upon seeing my hometown baseball heroes in real life. There are several images from that doubleheader that still stick in my mind today—Al Hrabosky, the "Mad Hungarian" pitched, after all. But the most indelible memory is of an entire baseball stadium, a bigger collection of people than I had ever seen in my life, growing completely silent in honor of Thurman Munson.
Going to that Tigers-Royals doubleheader was also one of the last things I ever got to do with my brother, who died in a car wreck a few months later.
For its flaws, one thing this book does well is take you back to larger than life Yankees legends of the 1970s. If you are of the age where names like Graig Nettles and Catfish Hunter mean something to you, Yankee fan or not, you may enjoy reading how Negron was a young fan living any young fans dream. He does convey that message very well.
Posted by: David Wade
August 16, 2012
Talking ball with Tim Wendel and the Summer of ‘68I find it difficult to read baseball books over the summer because there is just so much live baseball to be seen on TV. Still, I’m glad I took some time this summer to read Tim Wendel’s Summer of ‘68.
More than just a baseball book, Wendel’s work weaves the 1968 season into the greater context of American culture. A year of tragedy, it was lowlighted by two assassinations on American soil. The year became even more notable with the staging of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where both triumph and political controversy made international news.
Earlier this month, I posed a number of questions to Tim Wendel, who responded graciously with detailed answers. Here is our interview about Summer of ‘68:
Markusen: What motivated you to write about the year of 1968, not just as a baseball season but from the perspective of American news developments and the Olympic Games?
Wendel: I was channel-surfing one evening, going back and forth between the political talk shows, when it hit me: We don’t really listen to each other these days. There is very little that passes for dialogue or conversation anymore. Of course, the great thing about history is you can go back to a time when things were as bad or even worse, and 1968 was certainly worse.
The more I read about and talked with people about that year, I realized that the sports were played at an amazing level. I mean we had a great baseball season and the Olympics, the rise of football, the Boston Celtics, etc. Much of the way the sports world is today has its roots back in that era.
Markusen: What was the toughest area to research and write: the baseball developments or the real world events?
Wendel: With both areas, there was plenty of material. What I was looking for were intersections where sports and world events came together, even collided. That’s where guys like Tom Hayden and Larry Dierker proved to be invaluable. Here you have Dierker, then a young pitcher with the Houston Astros, watching the riots in Chicago from his hotel room window. Not only was he a witness to the event, but the event changed his life. He will tell you that it opened him up to really experiencing the world. In essence, it urged him to be more than a ballplayer.
Markusen: Did you watch a lot of videotape from the 1968 season in putting together this book?
Wendel: Yes, watching video of Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and so many others was great. It was incredible how fast they worked and with such purpose and determination. But I was also moved by the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, especially in early April 1968. In both cases, they spoke from the heart, with little or no notes, and a grateful nation listened. After the book came out, I did a story for American Scholar about those speeches, with links to the video of those speeches—http://theamericanscholar.org/king-kennedy-and-the-power-of-words/
Markusen: You interviewed many people for this book. Who provided the most insight?
Wendel: I already mentioned Hayden and Dierker. But ballplayers like Orlando Cepeda, Willie Horton, Gates Brown also immediately come to mind. All of them emphasized that in 1968 you couldn’t separate yourself from what was going on. At some point, the year, which was so tragic and tumultuous, simply broke your heart. The last question I often asked people was “How did you cope or how did you persevere through such a difficult time?” The answers were as varied as the characters in the Summer of ’68.
Markusen: Was there anyone that was particularly difficult to interview, or perhaps someone that eluded you altogether?
Wendel: Bob Gibson can be elusive. I had to send messages to him through his friends about particular situations. A key one was when he passed Dr. King in the old Atlanta airport early in 1968. They nodded at each other and kept going. Gibson confirmed the story for me and didn’t think much of it. He didn’t seem to think that King would know who he was. But then I met with Rev. Billy Kyles, who as member of King’s inner circle, in Memphis. Actually it was one of the last interviews I did for the Summer of ’68. Kyles said King certainly knew who Gibson was. The civil rights leader was closely following the pitcher’s career. That led to Kyles helping me put together a hypothetical situation, but I hope an intriguing one—what could have been said if Gibson and King did stop and talk that day in 1968?
Markusen: Baseball in 1968 was dominated by pitching, some would say to a dangerous extreme. How do you think fans today would react to that kind of baseball?
Wendel: Of course, everything in sports goes in cycles. The fans know that better than the powers that be sometimes. This was a golden age of pitching and so many things were rolled out (lowering the pitching mound, shrinking the strike zone) that were too drastic, in my opinion. As Jim Bouton of Ball Four fame told me, “Expansion was scheduled for the next season. That would have given the hitters more of a chance anyway.”
Markusen: Was the baseball of 1968, without divisions and a true pennant format, better than the game of today?
Wendel: Many of the guys who played in that period think so. It was a real test. Not only did you have to prove yourself over the long haul of the regular season and be the lone team from the NL or the AL to go directly to the Fall Classic. Then you had to rise to the occasion in a best-of-seven series.
Markusen: You write extensively about Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and Luis Tiant. Of those three pitchers, whom did you find the most interesting?
Wendel: They all had very different reactions to what was going on that season. Gibson somehow found a way to channel the anger he felt about what was going on around him (the assassinations, the riots) to put together an epic season (1.12 ERA). Tiant was just coming into his own, doing his best on a Cleveland Indians team that was missing too many pieces to win it all. What he learned that season paid off later for him with the Boston Red Sox. McLain embraced celebrity better than anybody in baseball since Babe Ruth. McLain burned the candle at both ends, but he made it work for him. You can’t argue with 31 victories.
Markusen: Were you surprised by the rivalry between McLain and teammate Mickey Lolich, with the resentment between them continuing until this day?
Wendel: Not really. It was really a big brother-little brother rivalry that many of us understand. It sure worked for the Tigers that season, though, especially in the postseason. McLain raised the bar and Lolich was determined to beat it. And he ultimately did with three complete-game victories in the World Series.
Markusen: The cover of the book features the famous Bill Freehan/Lou Brock play in Game Five. How did you come to that as the choice for the cover?
Wendel: We had a lot of discussions about the cover. We decided upon the Brock/Freehan image because it was somewhat confrontational, which fit the times, and players on both sides felt it was the turning point of the Series that year. Many felt that if Brock would have scored on that play in Game Five, the Cardinals would have clinched the Series. In fact, trying to throw Brock out on the basepaths became a rallying cry for the Tigers went they fell behind three games to one in the Series.
From there we had some fun with the background color and lettering. The title font is reminiscent of the old style concert posters from the time, kind of a cross between the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Markusen: How does the 1968 World Series stack up against the great World Series in history?
Wendel: I believe it remains one of the most captivating. It proved that nothing ever can be taken for granted. Here you had the St. Louis Cardinals, with a three-games-to-one advantage, and they let it slip away. The Tigers were just trying to show America they could play, and then they got on a roll with McLain and Lolich in games six and seven. In doing so, they held a riot-torn city together.
Markusen: If there is one “takeaway” that you would like your readers to emerge with after reading this book, what would it be?
Wendel: I hope it’s the realization that sports can be so important. Sports can rally communities, even when they’re being pulled apart at the seams. Detroit suffered the worst riots in this country since the Civil War in 1967. But a baseball team, of all institutions, helped them move ahead in 1968.
Ultimately, that year is a reminder that our nation has endured and been tested before. Sure, things are difficult now. But somehow we got through 1968. With that in mind, we can survive whatever we face now, too.
Posted by: Bruce Markusen
September 23, 2011
Fenway Park book giveaway*Today (Friday) is the last day to submit your story for consideration!
The good folks at St. Martin's Press have been kind enough to offer three copies of their new book, Fenway Park: The Centennial: 100 Years of Red Sox Baseball (reviewed by yours truly here) to The Hardball Times' readers.
And the powers that be at THT have allowed me to determine how the recipients of those three copies will be determined.
Let's keep this simple. In the comments below, post your favorite Fenway- or Red Sox-related story. It might be an in-person account of a trip to the ballpark, a particularly memorable game you saw on TV, or perhaps a made-up scenario you have always dreamed about (a Red Sox-Cubs World Series, for example).
The three best stories—as determined by this unbiased, non-Bosox fan judge—will have their very own copies of Fenway Park: The Centennial sent their way.
Posted by: Greg Simons
July 22, 2011
A bargain worth consideringAll right, in the interest of full disclosure: yours truly is the furthest thing from an objective source regarding this book. The author, Bill Gould, befriended me and I read his manuscript and offered him my editing advice. And more than that, I noticed a couple of questionable baseball facts in the manuscript, so Bill hired me to serve as his baseball fact-checker.
So, if you find any misstatements of baseball fact in this book, I'm the party to blame!
But with all those caveats noted, Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil is a must-read book for anyone seriously interested in the labor history of baseball.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
April 09, 2011
Lucky EddiePerhaps it isn't the singular event the baseball world has been waiting for, but nonetheless it's good news for those with an interest in the history of the sport: Eddie Robinson has published his autobiography. Lucky Me: My Sixty-Five Years in Baseball is a good read.
Robinson wasn't a Hall of Fame-quality player, nor was his long post-playing career in the front offices of various organizations one of the greatest, but in both phases Robinson was quite good. And he was extremely well-traveled, playing for the Indians, Senators, White Sox, Athletics, Yankees, Athletics (again), Tigers, Indians (again), and Orioles, and then working in coaching and multiple executive capacities for the Orioles, Colt .45s, Athletics, Braves, Rangers, and Yankees, including stints as the General Manager in Atlanta and Texas. If one is inclined to think that on such a long and winding road Robinson met a lot of interesting people and has a lot of interesting stories to tell, this book amply proves one correct.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
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