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Since it is the off season there is not really that much news about baseball that the average fan can have. The MLB network will give you up to date news but at the same time will repeat the same stuff over and over again. Reading about baseball during the off season has always been one of my favorite things to do. So what I am going to do here is post some reviews about some books that I am reading and also post some things that I read in the book that I thought was interesting. Anyone can post a book review. This isn't a private thread you know. Any baseball book you want to review please feel free. Just post why you liked it or disliked it.

Starting this thread off is a book called Ty Cobb and it was written by Charles C. Alexander. If anyone is interested in this book, you can check it out on Amazon right here. You can get it pretty cheap there.

While reading this book you can almost feel the way Cobb drove himself to be the best. Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best you can be, but Cobb took it to another level. All his life he got into fights and situations -on and off the ballfield- that could have been avoided. He had a quick temper, held grudges against many people that were many times unjustified and when he died he was estranged from most of the people from his family.

Cobb was at the same time extremely generous and extremely miserly. He funded a hospital in Royston, Georgia in his hometown and supported many down on their luck ballplayers over the years. For example, he helped pay for Mickey Cochrane's medical bills after he was beaned in the late 1930's. But then there was another side of Cobb. One time he went out to dinner and when he got the bill he discovered that the restaurant overcharged him. He went into a rage and demanded the bill be fixed immediately. The restaurant overcharged him by three cents.

Here are some other things that stood out for me while reading this book:

* Cobb's father was a schoolteacher. When his father was 20 years old, he met and fell and love with Amanda Chitwood, who was the daughter of the most prosperous family in the area. Amanda Chitwood was also his student. They married in 1883 after her father reluctantly consented. His daughter was only twelve years old. Cobb was not born until 1886 when his mother was fifteen.

* Even as a boy Cobb was quick tempered. In the fifth grade he beat up a fat boy for missing a word in the class spelling bee and thereby giving the victory to the girl's team.

* Cobb's father died in 1905 under suspicious circumstances. His mother shot him by mistake when she thought he was a prowler. There was talk that Cobb's mother was having an affair and his father sneaked back home one night to see for himself. That's when he was shot. Cobb's father never got to see him play in the major leagues and this was one of the reasons why Cobb was so driven.

* Cobb was raised in the south not too long after the Civil War. At that time there were still very hard feelings about the war. This explains partly his feelings towards blacks over the years, whom he had many confrontations with about some very petty things.

* Cobb came up to Detroit in 1905. He played his home games in Bennett Park. The capacity of this ballpark was about 8,500. The owner of the Tigers was William H. Yawkey, Tom Yawkey's uncle.

* Cobb got in many fights as a player, both with the opposition and his own teammates. In 1907 Cobb got into a fight with a Tiger player and the Tigers, fed up with him, offered him to Cleveland for outfielder Elmer Flick. Cleveland declined, saying Cobb was a troublemaker.

* Cobb had a brother named Paul who was drafted by the St. Louis Browns.

* Cobb got married in 1908 during the pennant race without consulting anyone in the Tiger management. What he did was take off, leave the team to get married, and then he came back. See if that happens today!

* Another thing that Cobb did that wouldn't happen today is that many times he would train with the Washington Senators because the Senators trained close to his home in Georgia during his contract holdouts. Cobb held out mostly every spring for more money and hardly ever trained with the Tigers.

* Cobb was the first millionaire ballplayer by the time he retired because he invested wisely in stocks. For example, he got in on the ground floor with a Georgia soft drink company that ended up making him a lot of money. That company's name was Coca-Cola.

* In 1928, Cobb made an offer of $275,000 for the Cincinnati Reds but his bid was eventually rejected. It proved very fortuitous for Cobb because of the stock market crash in 1929.

* Cobb was married and divorced twice. Both times his wives cited "mental cruelty" as the reason for the divorce.

* When Cobb died in 1961, only three ballplayers went to his funeral. They were Ray Schalk, Mickey Cochrane and Nap Rucker. The Hall of Fame sent a representative also. Not one other person associated with baseball came to pay respects.

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The movie "Cobb" with Tommy Lee Jones is pretty good as well. Provides some insight into his life, although I'm sure some of it is fictionalised for the screen.

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The movie "Cobb" with Tommy Lee Jones is pretty good as well. Provides some insight into his life, although I'm sure some of it is fictionalised for the screen.

Maybe some of it was fictionalized for the screen. Some things usually are when movies are made.

But the guy who wrote this book originally wrote Cobb's autobiography when Cobb was sick and dying. The name of the author was Al Stump and he lived with Cobb for awhile as they both worked on the book. The book, which came out in 1961 was called My Life in Baseball: The True Record and it was written by Cobb and ghost written by Stump. Here's the link for this book at Amazon right here.

Cobb made Stump put everything in that book exactly the way he wanted it and even though Stump knew it to be untrue or inaccurate, he had to put it in anyways.

Many years later, Stump finally decided to put the record straight and he wrote Cobb: A Biography which was a book completely different from the first one. It told of the experiences he had with Cobb while writing the book and how Cobb was. That book can be found right here on Amazon.

While Cobb was a player that had remarkable stats and played hard, this was also a guy that I would never want to meet.

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Same here. That's pretty much what the film was about; Stump's struggles with Cobb to make the book, with Cobb wanting a memoir of epic proportions about how skilled he was, but Stump wanting to tell the true story.

I'm sure it's available on some P2P sites.

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Next up is a book called The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox and the Playoff of '78 and it was written by Richard Bradley.

The book can be viewed and purchased right here at Amazon.com.

If this game was not the greatest game ever played, it sure has come close to it. A lot of us in here are very familiar with baseball history. We all know about Babe Ruth's called shot in 1932, Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'round the World against the Dodgers in 1951, Roger Maris' 61st home run in 1961, etc, etc. This game that was played in Boston on October 2nd, 1978 is right up there with those other famous games. What makes this '78 playoff game different for me as compared to the examples that I just gave you is that I saw this game on TV and I lived through the 1978 season. And by reading this book it brought me right back to that year and to that game.

The author, Richard Bradley details every inning and every at-bat. But he did it in a way that let you know what the players were thinking during that point in time in the game. So, in the bottom of the ninth when Carl Yastrzemski came up with two outs facing Rich Gossage, you learned that all Yaz wanted to do was hit a ground ball between first and second. He was telling himself not to do too much against Gossage, just meet the ball. And you'll also find out why Gossage's last pitch of the game was also his best pitch.

The book briefly covers the history of the two teams, but it mostly dwells on the '78 season and how both of these teams ended up in Fenway Park that day. You'll learn how the Red Sox looked unstoppable at the beginning of the year and how the Yankees were just happy to stay close despite all the injuries that they accumulated.

You'll find out how people that were not even in Fenway Park that day had an influence on the game. Take Billy Martin for example. The Yankees talented but paranoid manager resigned in July and was replaced by Bob Lemon, who was a calming influence on the team. Many players said that if Martin was still there, there would not have been a one game playoff.

Another guy who had a hand in this was Seattle pitcher Mike Parrott. You may have not heard of him but Red Sox right fielder Dwight Evans has. Evans was hit by a Parrott on the 29th of August behind his left ear that left him with a bad case of dizziness that left him practically useless for the month of September. His dizziness was so bad that he could not step off a curb without losing his balance.

There's a lot of inside stories included in this book about all the players who either played in that game or who were on one of the two teams. Ron Guidry for example almost quit and went home to Louisiana back in 1976. Bucky Dent did not know who his parents were until later on in his life.

This book was 257 pages long and the pages just flew for me. I highly recommend this.

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Next up is a book called Dawn of a Dynasty: The Incredible and Improbable Story of the 1947 New York Yankees and it was written by Frank Strauss. This book can be found on Amazon right here and they have new and used versions of this book for sale.

There are a lot of books written about the Yankees and there are a lot that concentrate on one particular year of that team and this book captures perfectly the story of the 1947 Yankee team. If you listen to certain people on this website (and I will come out and say it here- they are Red Sox fans) they will have you believe that the Yankee teams of this era had it so easy that all they had to do was walk on the field and they had the game won. Just reading this book will show you that this lie that these people perpetuate on this site is as far from the truth as you can get.

Going into the 1947 season the Yankees were predicted for nothing higher than a third place finish and the Red Sox were once again favored to win the pennant in the American League. But at the end of the '47 season it was the Red Sox who finished in third place, 14 games behind the pennant winning Yankees.

The Yankees overcame a lot of injuries during this season to just about everyone on the team. Joe Dimaggio (the MVP of the AL that year) missed parts of the season with various injuries but still hit .315 for the ballclub. This book details the rookie year of Yogi Berra, Bobby Brown and pitcher Spec Shea.

Notable things while reading this book was seeing once again how pitchers were treated back then. This was the day of no pitch counts and complete games. And it did not seem to me that these pitchers from this era were no worse for wear.

Some other things that stood out (among other things)

...The Yankees played a game that season in one hour and thirty minutes. Try that today.

...The doubleheaders that this team had to play that year were a lot.

...The Yankees had an old timers day that year and it was scheduled for the final weekend of the season. It had a game against the Yankee Old Timers that were managed by Joe McCarthy against the American League Old Timers, managed by Connie Mack.

...The 1947 season was the first season that the World Series was televised, and three local stations in the New York area shared game coverage.

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Next up is a book called A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939 by Richard J. Tofel. This book can be found at Amazon right here.

Yes, this is another book about a specific year in the history of the Yankees but it tells so much more. Just check out this statistic listing the league titles and world titles at the beginning of the 1936 season:

TEAM.............LEAGUE TITLES............WORLD SERIES TITLES

Philadelphia Athletics...........8..............5

Boston Red Sox...................5..............5

New York Giants..................10.............4

New York Yankees.................7..............4

St. Louis Cardinals..............5..............3

Chicago Cubs.....................8..............2

As you see, the World Series titles at that time were very very close. But look at the same standings at the end of the 1939 Season:

TEAM.............LEAGUE TITLES.............WORLD SERIES TITLES

New York Giants.........12.....................4

New York Yankees........11.....................8

Philadelphia Athletics...8.....................5

Boston Red Sox...........5.....................5

St. Louis Cardinals......5.....................3

Chicago Cubs.............9.....................2

This book details the time period when the Yankees first made their move into becoming the dynasty that they are known for this very day.

This book was full of interesting facts, among them were:

...When Jacob Ruppert first bought the Yankees in 1914 he wanted to rename the team the Knickerbockers after his beer but was dissuaded by local newspaper editors.

...Obviously this book covers the final playing days of Lou Gehrig. There was an interesting observation made by Joe Dimaggio about Gehrig during spring training in 1939. He saw Gehrig swing and miss at 19 pitches in a row -all fastballs. He saw his timing was off but at that time no one knew what was wrong.

...This book also touched on what was going on in 1939. There was a college fad going on at that time where the students would swallow live goldfish. The record for swallowing goldfish in one sitting was 89. I'm getting sick right now thinking of this.

...The Yankees had a pitcher named Wes Ferrell. He was a hot headed guy. One time he got so mad in the dugout he started beating himself up and his teammates had to pry him off of himself.

...Gehrig's number was the first number retired by the Yankees by the way. Not Ruth. In fact, George Selkirk, who replaced Ruth in right field in 1935, was also given Ruth's number 3. He was still wearing it in 1939.

...In 1939 the Yankees played 25 double headers.

...By 1938, the three New York teams were the only teams that did not have their games on the radio. Larry McPhail changed all that by airing Dodger games in 1938.

...In fact, a man named Arch McDonald was the first broadcaster for the Yankees. He broadcast both Yankee and Giant games in 1939 because both teams never played home games on the same day. This guy must have been busy.

...Radio did make the owners wary. They thought it would keep fans away. That's why in 1940 the Senators discontinued radio broadcasts of their home games.

...The first two games of the 1939 World Series took a total of three hours to complete. BOTH games. Game one took 93 minutes to play and game two took 87 minutes to play. Try that with FOX these days.

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Next up in this thread is Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss. This book can be found on Amazon right here.

This was a perfect baseball book for me. I knew a little about the subject of the book but after I was finished with the book I knew so much more. I actually saw Clemente play on TV when I was a little kid. I have some memories of him as I look back at that time. Each time he walked up to home plate he would twist his neck around like he had a kink in it. I recall he had a great arm, which the announcers would say every time a ball was hit to right field. I recall he played for one of the top teams of the early 70's. And I recall the date of his tragic death in 1972 because the plane he was on was too heavy. So, that doesn't say much of what I knew about Clemente.

For anyone who wants to know about Roberto Clemente, this book is for you.

Notable tidbits:

...The Dodgers originally signed Clemente with the sole purpose of keeping him away from the New York Giants because they did not want to see a Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente outfield.

...Clemente was a bonus baby and he had to remain on the Dodger roster for one year for the Dodgers to keep him. That was the rules. If he got sent down to the Dodger minor league clubs during his first year the Dodgers would risk losing him to the Rule 5 draft. And that's exactly what happened. The Dodgers tried to hide Clemente in Montreal in 1954 but at the end of the season the last place Pittsburgh Pirates picked him up for a $4,000 posting fee. Just imagine for a minute if you will what kind of a team the pitching rich Dodger teams of the 1960's would have had if they had Clemente there.

...In 1955 the Pirates had two sets of brothers on their team, Gene and George Freese and John and Eddie O'Brien. The O'Brien's by the way were identical twins.

...The events leading up to his death were both unfortunate and also completely avoidable. On December 22, 1972 there was an earthquake in Nicaragua. Clemente, hearing of this, wanted to help out. He organized a relief effort in Puerto Rico. People donated food, clothing and medical supplies. The trouble is the planes that were delivering these things to the people in Nicargua were stopped by the Somoza dictatorship at the airport and all the supplies were taken. None of the donated food or clothing or medical supplies got to the people that needed it because Somoza's people took it first. Clemente, learning of this, was furious. This is the reason why he boarded the plane on New Year's Eve 1972. To make sure this did not happen again.

...Clemente asked two other major league players to join him on this trip to Nicaragua. Orlando Cepeda couldn't go because he was trying to get himself into shape to play somewhere in 1973. Manny Sanguillen was asked to go but he couldn't either. He was still playing winter ball and could not get away.

...The plane that Clemente left on that day was a bad one but he did not know it. It was a DC-7 and it had more than its share of problems. Besides the plane being overloaded by 4,000 pounds, the plane needed a new engine. Among other things. And since it was New Year's Eve, there were no Flight Standards inspectors around because no one was assigned to surveillance that weekend. That's why Clemente's flight was permitted to leave with these errors because no one was there to stop it.

...Clemente's body was never found.

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I never knew Clemente's body was never found. For such an icon, that's tragic. :(

The plane went down into shark infested waters.

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Next up is Yankee for Life: My 40-Year Journey in Pinstripes by Bobby Murcer and Glen Waggoner. This book can be found on Amazon right here.

This book details the baseball life and times of Bobby Murcer, from his callup to the Yankees in 1965 to his retirement in 1983.

It's a typical ballplayers memoir book that mostly a Yankee fan would care to spend the time reading. Murcer is not shy about his allegiances to the Yanks and he goes on to explain to the reader his disappointment of being traded away to the Giants at the end of the 1974 season.

But what everyone would admire about Murcer, Yankee fan or not, is how he dealt with the news of his brain cancer and how he and his family handled it. That's detailed in this book too. To me, this is what made this book stand out.

Other things:

...I just love the name of this book. Can't put my finger on why though.

...Something that I put out of my memory about the 1977 season about Ron Guidry was brought back to me while reading this book. It seems that before the '77 season began, the Yankees worked out a trade with Toronto to acquire Bill Singer for Guidry. But the Blue Jays front office nixed the trade at the last minute. Why? Because Singer was already on the cover of their media guide, which was already printed. So the Yankees had Guidry start in 1977 and the rest is history. And as you can see by what transpired here, the Blue Jays have been making stupid decisions ever since they entered the American League, a tradition that has continued to this day.

...In 1980, Bobby Murcer had a baseball school in Florida. It lasted only one year. But it did produce one player that made it to the major leagues, catcher Mike Stanley.

...Suzyn Waldman was a Broadway singer in her younger years before she became an announcer.

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Next up is The Best Team Money Could Buy: The Turmoil and Triumph of the 1977 New York Yankees. It was written by Steve Jacobson and can be found on Amazon right here.

I like to put a picture of the book that I just finished reading in here just to show you what it looks like but I can not do it for this book. This is an old book, printed in 1978 and it has been out of print for many years. But you still can pick this up although you won't be getting a brand new copy.

While this book chronicles the daily happenings of the 1977 Yankee team, this book can be enjoyed by non-Yankee fans as well as Yankee fans. The Yankee fan will read about the problems this team had but will be happy at the end of the book because they ended up winning the World Series that year. The non-Yankee fan will enjoy this book because they'll be laughing at the Yankees because of their behavior from Spring training all the way up to the sixth game of the Fall Classic.

Other notable things:

...This book brought back a lot of memories for me. This was the first Yankee team that I saw win a World Series.

...I could remember when all this was going on and wondering to myself why the hell are these guys doing this? All I wanted them to do was win.

...Anyone that buys this book will see that a lot of the problems on the '77 team were because of Billy Martin. At that time I did not realize it but I do now. Martin was defiant, belligerent, argumentative, rude, paranoid, dishonest, untrustworthy, alcoholic and a liar to just about everyone. And I am sure there are some traits about him that I am forgetting to mention. Martin was a good manager when the game was going on but Martin as a man was no damn good.

...There was jealousy over Reggie Jackson's huge contract and that was a major cause of all the strife.

...Not one of the major players of the '77 season ended up looking good in this book. Not Reggie Jackson or Graig Nettles or Billy Martin or Thurman Munson or George Steinbrenner. Each of these people were petty and childish and by reading this book you'll see why.

...Many times Mickey Rivers was unmotivated because he wanted more money. I lost count halfway in the book when he said he wanted to be traded.

...The incident in Boston in June of that year with Jackson being pulled from the game during a pitching change is covered very well.

...Just when you think things were starting to calm down for this team and a few pages went by, a new "crisis" came up that got everyone in a tizzy again. It became more and more ridiculous.

...Again, the only reason why I re-read this book was because I liked the ending of it.

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Y4L - Did you ever read The Bronx is Burning?

You may have seen the ESPN miniseries a few years ago based on the book. It's a very good read that ties together the 1977 NYC mayoral race, the 1977 NYC blackout, the Son of Sam serial killing spree and the turmoil within the Yankees organization. As a Yankees fan, I'm sure you would enjoy it.

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Like you, my first experience with the Yankees winning the World Series was in 1977. I vividly remember many of the events from the summer of 1977 that are covered in this book, especially the news coverage from the hunt to find the Son of Sam killer (and of course the Yankees quest for the World Series title).

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Like you, my first experience with the Yankees winning the World Series was in 1977. I vividly remember many of the events from the summer of 1977 that are covered in this book, especially the news coverage from the hunt to find the Son of Sam killer.

I was a paperboy back then and I delivered the evening papers around here and I recall running to work every day just to read about the latest Yankee game. I got to ignore all the crap going on and just concentrated on the won-loss record.

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I was a paperboy back then and I delivered the evening papers around here....

You're showing your age there. Like me, you can remember when they actually had newspapers that came out in the late afternoon. My father worked at one in Connecticut and I remember him bringing home the newspaper every night after work. Do they still have afternoon newspapers any more?

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You're showing your age there. Like me, you can remember when they actually had newspapers that came out in the late afternoon. My father worked at one in Connecticut and I remember him bringing home the newspaper every night after work. Do they still have afternoon newspapers any more?

Not where I live Jim. The Times-Union went out of business in 1997.

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Not where I live Jim. The Times-Union went out of business in 1997.

My father retired in 1994 and a year or two later, the newspaper he worked at (the New Britain Herald) was purchased by a large newspaper syndicate and switched over to morning delivery shortly after that. The newspaper was getting ready to be closed down last year but a new buyer came in about 2 weeks before the shutdown and saved the newspaper and all its employees.

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Next up in this thread is Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel. This book can be found on Amazon right here.

Of all the books that I have read in this thread, this one by far was the toughest one for me to read. Not that it was poorly written, far from it. Marty Appel did a great job on this book. I simply had a hard time reliving the moments again when I first heard of the terrible news of Munson's crash. And really, up until reading this book that is all I knew about this crash. There's a thread in the Yankee fan forum where I go into detail about my memories of Munson thirty years after the incident, so I won't go into it here. Appel goes into detail explaining the cause and the hows and whys about the crash and the reactions of everyone as soon as they heard the news. Many players like Graig Nettles for instance did not believe what he was told at first. Remember, these were the days before cell phones and text messaging. News was a bit slower then.

This book shows the outpouring of love the Yankees had for Munson and how they rallied around his widow in her time of need. It also goes into detail about Munson's poor childhood with a father who was anything but a father.

This is a book about a good ballplayer and about a husband and a father who left his family much too soon. I highly recommend it. I also recommend this book to every single Red Sox fan who cracked jokes about Munson on the anniversary of his death. What?? You think I forgot this?? Hell no.

Some notable things I came across in the book:

...Before George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973, there was talk from CBS of moving the Yankees to New Orleans to play in the Superdome as their new home. It was based on all the new ballparks being built at the time in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Pittsburgh that helped increase attendance in those towns. This threat never amounted to anything.

...CBS bought the Yankees for 13.4 million dollars and sold the team at a loss to George Steinbrenner for 10 million dollars. CBS did not mind because they were happy to get out of the baseball business.

...In 1974 there was a deal cooked up between Yankee general manager Gabe Paul and Kansas City GM Cedric Tallis. The Yankees were to send Munson, Bobby Murcer, Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor and Jim Mason to Kansas City for John Mayberry and Fred Patek. Luckily this never happened.

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Imagine a job where you never are allowed to be wrong. One mistake and everyone who deals with you hates you; a job where you're constantly working on egg shells. Scary thought, eh? Well every day baseball umpires have to deal with that sort of crap.

There have been books by players and managers, and some even by players and managers but a perspective often overlooked is that of an umpire.

9780312997106.jpg

A while ago I read Planet of the Umps by Ken Kaiser, a former MLB umpire. The book is a great read as it delves into why umpires become umpires, the life of an umpire, his view of certain players, his hatred of certain managers, and much more.

A couple of concepts really stayed with me. One is that they have to be trained not to blink when something is coming straight at them at 100 mph.

The book is well written, has a lot of humour, and does a great job of showing what it's like to be an umpire.

Anyway, if you're looking to read a book from the unique perspective of an umpire, check it out.

You can purchase it from Amazon here.

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Hey All,

I wanted to pass on a testimonial on a pretty good baseball book I just finished this past weekend. "Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s" (nice short title) is some light reading and a fun look back into Major League Baseball throughout a truly transitional decade of the 1970s. Virtually all aspects that you could think of are covered in this book, my man Oscar Gamble's hair, Bill "The Spaceman" Lee's hemp-induced dietary supplement, and the other effects that social and pop-culture events had on Baseball and vice-versa. The book cover alone makes it a worthwhile purchase. I just wished it came with a large poster of it....

BigHairPlasticGrass.jpg

Speaking of Mr. Gamble...I want to take the time to give much thanks again to all of you guys who have been involved in the TC Mods for MVP Baseball. I had just discovered these things in the past couple of months and love them all to death. A lot of the newer games are pretty cool; but I will always contend that with MVP Baseball, you get a great modern (with the updates) baseball game and the mods give the HISTORY of the game as well. Thanks again guys, how else would I be able to play my 1975 Cleveland Indians in their awesome all-red uniforms?

mvp20052010-06-0716-23-39-13.jpg

Finally, I was going through some Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes stored on my computer the other day and found this cool clip from a movie called "The Horror at Party Beach" I got a kick out of it...

OscarDoll.jpg

http://s742.photobucket.com/albums/xx63/onizuka03/?action=view&current=OscarGambleDoll.flv

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First heard of this book by chance while reading a story on the NY Daily News site and saw an excerpt from it on the sidebar. Here's the excerpt.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2010/10/13/2010-10-13_the_last_boy_excerpt_1_mickey_mantle_finally_opens_up_about_childhood_sexual_abu.html

Exclusive excerpt from 'The Last Boy': Mickey Mantle finally opens up about childhood sexual abuse

alg_mickey_mantle.jpg

Author Jane Leavy chronicles the life of one of New York's most beloved sports figures, Mickey Mantle ...

amd_mantle_book.jpg

... in her book, 'The Last Boy'.

In this exclusive excerpt from Jane Leavy's new book, "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood," Mantle discusses a lifelong secret.

Mickey Mantle's first panic attack occurred in the air. In April 1987, he had to be carried off a plane in Dallas – he thought he was having a heart attack. His heart was breaking, but not physiologically. The center could no longer hold.

One night, sitting at his booth in the restaurant – Mickey Mantle's – with [owners] Bill Liederman and John Lowy, a woman approached his table. Autographs were on the house for diners, and Mantle kept a stack of postcards with him for that purpose. "He's in a great mood," Lowy said. "He's the perfect Mickey. He starts to write the autograph. The pen runs out of ink. He takes it and hurls it into the wall. He threw it so hard and he was so furious, she just stood there and she started to cry. She finally had to leave.

"He could be one person one moment and a totally different person the next and go back and forth – though usually once it flipped into the bad Mickey, it didn't flip back. When he was the good Mickey, he was funny, friendly, generous, kind, gracious even. But he could turn on a dime."

The two Micks were as puzzling as they were unnerving. Lowy thought, "There was something from a very early age that happened to him."

Something Mantle had never confided to his wife. One night, long after they had separated, they spent an evening in Dallas watching a TV movie about a child who had been sexually molested. "That happened to me," he said.

He told her that often when [his parents] Mutt and Lovell went out to a Friday-night barn dance, her teenage daughter, Anna Bea, babysat for her half siblings. He was four or five years old when she began molesting him, pulling down his pants and fondling him while her friends, "teenagers and older," giggled and smirked, Merlyn Mantle told me. "They started playing with him," she said. "And, of course, he got an erection. They laughed at him. He remembered how embarrassed he was." That was the only time they ever spoke about it. "It could have been why he turned out the way he did," she told me.

"He had kept a secret to himself for nearly his entire life," she wrote in the family memoir A Hero All His Life, published a year after his death. "That night I thought I understood more clearly than I ever had why his ego was so fragile. He was a loner who loved a crowd, when they cheered from a distance. He never respected women. He demonstrated it in the ladies he chose for his one-night stands, in the crude way he talked and acted in front of women when he drank. And in the way he treated me, with too much credit for raising our sons and too little for being an adoring and faithful wife."

In fact, he had not kept the secret entirely to himself; nor was Anna Bea his only abuser. He had confided pieces of the story to friends, female and male, Linda Howard, Greer Johnson, Larry Meli, and Mike Klepfer. One evening at Mickey Mantle's, Meli was watching a football game with him at the bar. Meli was troubled by Mantle's decision to take Johnson to the house in Dallas when the boys were there and have her sleep in his wife's bed. "I told him how wrong it was," Meli said.

Mantle told him about Anna Bea. "It was almost like 'Screw the sons, look what I had to go through!'" Meli said. "He was sober and melancholy. Mickey was so embarrassed that it was a half sister that he said it was an aunt!"

Years earlier Mantle had raised the subject with Klepfer over a hand of gin rummy. Theirs was an intense two-year friendship late in Mantle's life, so close that the Klepfers outfitted an apartment in the basement of their Binghamton, New York home for Mantle and Johnson. Mantle fished in their pond, tucked into Katy Klepfer's home cooking, and learned how to build a fire in the fireplace. On trips to New York, he and Mike would play cards while Katy and Greer went shopping. The two men had a natural kinship. Like Mutt, Klepfer's father, Ellis, was a miner – he went to work in the coalmines of West Virginia at age nine. Like Mutt, whose mother died when he was eight years old, Ellis got little maternal nurturing; his mother, who Mike said, was "a coal-town *****."

He told Mantle about his father's wretched childhood. "That's when he broke out talking about his early childhood. He started telling me, 'If you wanna know about abuse as a child ...'

"And then he more or less shut up, went quiet, and said, 'I can tell you stories about that. I just know what it's like.'

"He asked, had anybody ever fiddled with me?"

Klepfer had never told anyone what had happened to him on the porch on Doubleday Street in Binghamton. But he told Mantle the whole story. "They were playing with my johnson. I didn't know what was going on because I was so damned scared."

"Yeah, I know about that," Mantle said.

He listened closely as Klepfer described his inability to fend off the assault. Like Mantle, who was known as Little Mickey around Commerce, Oklahoma, Klepfer was a small boy who grew into a hulk of a man. Mantle had osteomyelitis; Klepfer was asthmatic. "I couldn't fight anybody because I couldn't breathe," he said. "And Mickey laughed and said, 'Everybody talks about my arms and how strong I was. I was a ****-*** sissy, too.'"

Mantle told him that an older boy in the neighborhood had pulled down his pants and fondled him and that it had happened more than once. "He told me, 'Well, that's how I learned how to run like lightning,'" Klepfer recalled. "'If I got wind that something like that was going to happen, I got the hell outta there. And I could run.'

"What happened to him as a kid drove him nuts. He lived with his situation where he was being abused for a while, long enough for it to be indelible. It was something that he had never forgotten."

Mantle alluded to the abuse by Anna Bea but never told Klepfer the details. Anytime the subject came up after that, Klepfer said, "He would just get drunk. Massively drunk. The drunkest ever. There'd be no talking about it the next day."

There is no way to know how often or for how long he was abused by the neighborhood boys or by his half sister – he told Merlyn that it continued until Anna Bea moved out of the house. She worked in the bars around Commerce, married, and died young. By 1956, when New York scribes descended on Commerce to document the all-American childhood of the new Triple Crown winner, Anna Bea had been written out of the family script.

In high school, he was seduced by one of his teachers, Merlyn told me. "She just laid over him," she said. He took her to Independence, Missouri, to meet his roommates in 1949, his first year in the minors. "She was a hot date," Jack Hasten recalled.

Mantle laughed when he told Greer Johnson about her decades later: "That's how I got through high school was screwing the teachers. That's the only way I was able to graduate."

No doubt the "Mrs. Robinson" attentions of an older woman made him the envy of the Independence Yankees. But the seduction was no joking matter. It may have assuaged lingering, unarticulated hurts and insecurities but it was also a violation of innocence and trust, an exploitation of a hormonally charged teenager who wet his bed until he left home to go away that season.

Richard Gartner, a New York psychologist and the author of the definitive work on the subject, "Betrayed as Boys," says the incidence of abuse does not necessarily determine its impact, nor does the age at which it occurs. "I've treated people who have had one relatively mild incident and yet were deeply affected all their lives, sometimes more than people who were chronically abused," he said.

Abuse by an older sibling is a violation of the gravest tabooóincest. Abuse of a heterosexual boy by other boys undermines an emerging sense of manhood. Abuse by an older woman in a position of authority is an abuse of power, even if, Gartner says, it "made him feel like a man."

Every boundary had been crossed – familial, gender, professional – which could account for why Mantle crossed so many lines of behavior and decorum. If it was okay for others to violate his boundaries, it was okay for him to violate those of others.

To experts in the field, Mantle's story is consistent with a cluster of symptoms often seen in survivors of childhood abuse: sexual compulsivity or extreme promiscuity; alcoholism or substance abuse; difficulty regulating emotions and self-soothing; bed wetting; a distorted sense of self; self-loathing, shame, and guilt; a schism between a public image and the private self; feelings of isolation and mistrust; and difficulty getting close to others.

Those deeply held feelings of isolation and shame would abide. Mantle nodded tearfully when Bob Costas told him in a 1994 interview on NBC Now that he had always sensed a deep sadness in him. "I don't get close to people," Mantle replied, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. "I'm weird or something, I guess."

Today, many victims of childhood sexual abuse are diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder – the term used to distinguish long-term trauma. "A sense of a foreshortened future" is one of the clinical criteria for making a diagnosis of complex PTSD.

Like many abused boys, Mantle may well have downplayed these early traumatic experiences. He would have had good cause to do so. As Gartner points out, American culture leaves no room for men to see themselves as victims; if they are victims they are not men. Nowhere would it have been more essential to hide those feelings than in a major league locker room.

One night, over a candlelight dinner at the Klepfers' house, after grace had been said, Mantle looked up at his friends and asked: "Why do you people have anything to do with me?"

***

On Labor Day, 1988, Mantle returned to Cooperstown – as a paying customer – with Greer Johnson and Mike and Katy Klepfer. He told them that he hadn't been back to the Hall of Fame since his induction. In fact, he had filmed A Comedy Salute to Baseball there with Billy Crystal in March 1985. As they got into the car with a thermos of Bloody Marys – Katy always poured light for The Mick – Johnson remembered the five-by-seven-inch autographed cards she always brought along when they went out in public. She went back into the house and got a thick stack of them, anticipating a swarm in Cooperstown.

Though he had seen his plaque when it was presented to him in 1974, he had never taken the time to visit the Hall of Fame gallery on the first floor, where the earliest inductees are honored. Klepfer hung back as Mantle read every plaque, squinting through the dollar cheaters that Klepfer had purchased at the drugstore. Then he put his hands up to his face and cried. "'Y'know,' he says, 'until today I thought I was a pretty good ballplayer.'"

Klepfer thought, "He was humbled by greatness."

Or perhaps they were "what if" tears. Mantle articulated his regret in a private conversation with Costas: "He said, without a thimble-full of bravado, but wistfully and with affection and respect for the other players involved, 'I know I had as much ability as Willie. And I had probably more all-around ability than Stan or Ted. The difference is none of them have to look back and wonder how good they could have been.'"

No one disturbed him. No one asked for an autograph. No one recognized Mickey Mantle – not even the staff at the Hall of Fame Museum.

Mantle was wearing a white Oklahoma Sooners windbreaker, a white Sooners cap, and a pink golf shirt. "Toward the end, he took his hat off and said, 'Well, maybe if I don't have my ball cap on they'll recognize me,'" Klepfer said.

They posed outside on the front steps, trying to attract attention. Hey, Mickey, a little over to the side, Mickey. Hi, Mickey! How are you, Mick? You're here in Cooperstown! No one noticed. They had lunch at the Otesaga, the old inn on the lake where inductees annually gather for the Hall of Fame Weekend. Klepfer tried one more time. "'Do you have a reservation for Mantle?' The girl says, 'No, I'm sorry, we don't. You don't need a reservation. You can go right in.'"

I haven't read beyond the first 2 paragraphs yet, but if you want to check the book out, click here.

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I haven't posted here in awhile but ever since I got my e-book reader I have been reading a lot of books. Mostly baseball, some football and other things. But usually baseball. This book here, Stan Musial: An American Life was one of the best books I've ever read.

Everyone who is a baseball fan knows Stan Musial, or at least they better. If not, look him up on the Internet or download one of the Total Classics mods that have him in it (TC Phase 10, TC '46 '51, '56 and '61) and see for yourself how good he is.

Here's Stan Musial by the numbers. A .331 lifetime batting average, 3,630 hits, 475 home runs and 1,951 RBI. He was consistent. He got 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road.

Musial was also a quiet and humble superstar. Reading that book I could not get over how that point was made over and over again by so many people during his life. He was as kind and respectful to people when he was a kid, to the time he was a low minor leaguer to being a major star in the National League and even after he hung up his cleats in 1963. People loved Stan Musial and they loved being around him.

Musial was underrated compared to the other superstars during his day. He didn't have the brashness of Boston's Ted Williams and he didn't have the aloofness of the Yankees Joe Dimaggio. He was a player that was loved by everyone, especially those in St. Louis.

One would expect to read derogatory stuff from someone during the course of anyone's career but to a man, people saw him the same. When you did read minor criticisms, like from Curt Flood for instance, you took it with a grain of salt because that guy was a complainer. The only major conflict writer George Vecsey really describes is a business dispute between Musial and Joe Garagiola, which ruined their relationship.

Vecsey wrote that when he usually writes sports books he has an opinion of the athlete before he starts the book and it usually changes after he finishes the book. But with Musial, his opinion of him never changed. Stan the Man was that good. A great ballplayer, friend and man.

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