good reads …   2 comments

i’m well aware that in our hectic paced life filled with work, family, and tabletop baseball games, there just isn’t much time to relax.  kicking back on an afternoon to read isn’t always high our lists, but it should be.  today i want to share with you three books that i thought were excellent.  if you’ve not read these, go to the library, check out used book sales, or click over to amazon.com.  they’re well worth the read.

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Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend
by Larry Tye

satchel paige has long been one of my baseball heroes.  when i’m asked of the greats of all time, his name is always included with the likes of babe ruth, sandy koufax, walter johnson, christy mathewson, ty cobb, honus wagner, hank aaron, tom seaver, nolan ryan, and thurman munson (he’s my all time favorite, so cut me some slack).  satchel is a legend.  self made legend, true, but a legend never-the-less.  and legend status doesn’t get justified without skins on the wall.  forty years of pitching are more than enough skins to justify ol’ satchel.

during the 20’s and 30’s he was touted by many as THE fastest pitcher to ever throw a ball.  when the yankees wanted to see if a young dimaggio was ready for the bigs, they sent him to satchel for approval.  the yankees were ecstatic when joltin’ joe got a hit in four plate appearances and declared him ready for the show.  and in 1965, satchel returned to the major leagues as a publicity stunt to pitch 3 innings against the red sox only allowing one hit (yaz).  if only the color barrier didn’t exist we might have truly known just how great he was.

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Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case for Baseball
by Bob Costas

it was this book that made me realize bob costas was THE man that should be named major league baseball’s commissioner.  he’s sharp, passionate about baseball, has a ton of great ideas, and well liked by many.  while looking back and willing to carry history and tradition forward, he’s also smart enough to know changes need to be made for our great game to survive long term (the book was written in 2000 and his ideas STILL should be implemented).

costas has strong opinions on several areas of the game, but spends a lot of time focusing on the financial aspects of the game including the haves and have nots of club ownership.  he gives great ideas that should be implemented such as a salary cap both for maximum and minimum levels.  that would prevent teams that could receive revenue sharing from just pocketing the money and claiming a loss from the business end.

his insights on inter-league play, the designated hitter, wild card playoff teams, and the future of the sport are all explored in depth.  his love for baseball is well known and his book goes to great lengths to review the problems and then give credible, viable solutions.  this book is well written and well thought out.  a must read for all serious baseball fans.

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The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
by Robert Coover

yes, i know this book may have the longest and most awkward title of any baseball book out there, but i love this book.  i’ve read it several times and am always fascinated by the character’s personality and how absorbed he gets into his tabletop baseball game.

he’s an accountant by day, but a manager, commissioner, and an almost deity of his own baseball world when he’s off the clock.  he spends his free time playing a baseball game that he created.  all the charts, teams, even the players, are all of his own imagination.  he’s been doing this for a very long time.  and in one roll of the dice, his world and psyche are blown like a mitch williams save chance in the world series.

it’s a fascinating look at our hobby through the imaginary mind of henry waugh.

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if you’ve read any of these books, i’d like to hear what you thought?  if not, you’re overdue for some good books to read and these three are a great place to start.

-chief

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Posted 08/12/2010 by rick in Baseball, Tabletop Games

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2 responses to “good reads …

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  1. Coover’s book was, and always’s will be an all-time classic. You can’t put it into any kind of genre its so damned great. An utterly amazing piece of fiction.
    Tye’s book on Satch is good, but not the best out there on the old Negro league legend. Hal Leibovitz’ 1948 “Pitchin’ Man” book that he helped Paige write was possibly the best, even though it was only 96 pages. And you can’t count out Timothy Gay’s “Satch, Dizzy and Rapid Robert” …
    … and Costas is an overrated hack, anything that comes out of his wordhole I completely ignore.

    • not a fan of the costas? well at least you liked one of my three. :-)

      and the additional comments about paige indicate you’re well read. though paige and others admitted the 96 pager wasn’t entirely accurate. the one i recommended is probably more accurate than his own. not sure of the other one as i’ve not read it (yet).

      thanks for your comments.
      -chief

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