Here at LJ, we’re just closing the February 1st issue, the one that includes our annual spring roundup of forthcoming baseball titles.
This year, LJ reviewer Gilles Renaud and I oversaw the roundup, with additional titles to be added online when the issue is published. (Some of those additional reviews will be by LJ reviewer Rob Langenderfer.)
We liked this spring’s books. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is when a book titled Are We Winning?: Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball is balanced in the lineup by books by Martha Ackmann (Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman To Play Professional Baseball in the Negro Leagues), Emma Span (90% of the Game is Half Mental: And Other Tales from the Edge of Baseball Fandom), Dorothy Seymour Mills (Chasing Baseball: Our Obsession with Its History, Numbers, People and Places) and Mark Kurlansky (The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris) that say, "That’s right, mothers and daughters have a part to play here too!"
The news from Mark McGwire this week adds a further note of interest to the books coming out this spring, especially big biographies of Hank Aaron and Roger Maris, homerun kings without asterisks. (That "asterisk" next to our review of the Howard Bryant book on Aaron is of course a star for it as a top pick.) McGwire at last admits the use of steroids, including in his 1998 record-breaking year, yet in his interview on Monday with Bob Costas, he expressed his apparently sincere disbelief that the steroids may have upped his output as a slugger.
I’ve always admired McGwire, not so much for his homerun heroics as for his sense of rectitude, his unwillingness ever to sell himself for advertising or memorabilia. In this day and age, that’s been pretty amazing. In fact it speaks of a true brotherhood with Aaron and Maris, regardless of a season’s homerun record.
Whether his coming clean about steroids means he’ll get to reside in the Hall of Fame remains to be seen. The message of this year’s baseball books—read them and see—does not enourage the idea that he belongs there.
What do you think?