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Past Times of
the National Pastime

by Andrew Elias


Lefty O’Doul
Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador
by Dennis Snelling
(UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS)

The untold and incredible true story about the man many believe to be the most important figure not enshrined in Cooperstown. O’Doul debuted in 1919 with the Yankees as a pitcher, but an injury forced him to convert into an outfielder. He became one of the greatest hitters in baseball history before becoming the winningest manager in the Pacific Coast League, where he helped develop Joe Dimaggio while with the San Francisco Seals. Yet the most fascinating story in O’Doul’s life is that he is credited with bringing baseball to Japan, forever changing both Japan and baseball forever.

An excellent portrait of a thoughtful and generous man with a scientific approach to hitting and an unbridled passion for the game; an athlete, a pioneer, a diplomat, a teacher — and one of baseball’s forgotten greats.


Baseball Meat Market
The Stories Behind the Best and Worst Trades in History
by Shawn Krest
(PAGE STREET PUBLISHING)

An informative and entertaining survey of deals that helped build dynasties and deals that cost General Managers their jobs, trades beneficial for both team and catastrophic for everyone. The author presents the issues and players involved in these trades, details about the negotiations, results, and afterthoughts by those involved.

From the Florida Marlins’ ‘fire sales’ after winning the World Series in 1997 & 2003, disappointing stunned fans twice, to Whitey Herzog’s four transactions involving 23 players, these are behind-the-scenes stories of the people behind the trades, offering insights into the art and the science of the deals.

Though not really the best or worst in all of baseball history — the earliest trade in the book was in 1969 — the book is recommended for baseball aficionados who revel in statistics and second guessing.


One Nation Under Baseball
How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime
by John Florio & Ouisie Shapiro
(UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS)

A clear-eyed account of how the turbulent 1960s changed baseball, on and off the field, and its changing place in the media and American life. The same themes and issues percolating in society at large were incubating inside the baseball world: civil rights, workers’ rights, urbanization, branding. Among the stories here are the shocking holdout by Dodger pitching stars Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Curt Flood’s fight for free agency and his economic freedom, the amazing ‘Year of the Pitcher’ in 1968, and the Amazing Mets’ 1969 surprise championship.

A sober look at the wild events and outsized personalities that shaped baseball in America during a decade of big changes.


50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball
by Rocco Constantino
(ROWMAN & LTTLEFIELD)

Instead of rehashing the best known events or mythological moments from baseball’s long and illustrious history, the author chooses events often underappreciated at the time and now mostly forgotten, even by many hardcore fans. He retells some of baseball’s most important and significant moments, often from the perspectives of the players, coaches, managers, and umpires who lived them.

We learn about the story behind Hank Aaron’s first home run and not his record-breaker, and instead of Babe Ruth’s 60th home run in 1927, the author recalls the Bambino’s 50th home run in 1921, in his first year with the Yankees, and the end of the ‘dead ball’ era. He treats us to fresh looks at some of the most famous moments in baseball, like the first All-Star game ever and Jackie Robinson’s first All-Star game. There are tragic stories, like the deadly beaning of Ray Chapman and the career-ending beaning of Tony Conigliaro, and stories about some of the wildest characters in the game, like Bob Uecker and Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych.

An excellent collection of short, interesting stories and anecdotes, often told in a new light and always entertaining. Recommended easy summer reading for baseball fans. •



May-June 2017