Spring Baseball Roster | February 15, 2013 (With Two Online-Only Reviews Added)

The 2013 major league baseball season begins on the evening of March 31, with most openers scheduled for the next day. Little wonder that many of the new baseball books below publish in April, but you’ll also find one we already got to read that’s scheduled for the month in which regular season play ends, September. Apparently whatever velocity Jamie Moyer has lost with his fastball he put into speedy manuscript delivery!

It’s looking to be a rich season for biography and history—as it should be for a game so steeped in fascinating characters and fans who live for the stories the game can tell.

BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR

barra Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added)Barra, Allen. Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age. Crown. Apr. 2013. 496p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307716484. $27. SPORTS

Barra (Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee) traces the rise of these two baseball icons of the Yankees and Giants, respectively, the two greatest players, he believes, from roughly 1951 through 1964. In that era the sports world centered on baseball more than it does today, especially on crosstown rivals. Barra recounts his one-time hero worship of both Mantle and Mays, and his coming to terms with the fact that prodigious athletic talent does not necessarily translate into personal heroism. He portrays Mantle, once referred to by a teammate as “a blond god,” and Mays, the “Say Hey Kid,” as virtually unsurpassed Hall of Fame talents with tortured souls and complex legacies. Their on-the-field feats are legendary, and chronicled again here, but Barra discusses their lives off the field (doomed marriages, financial failure, individual eccentricities). VERDICT Part memoir, part baseball history, part biography, this book is sure to be a winner with multiple audiences: fans, historians, and nonspecialists alike. Highly recommended. —SKS

Cobb, Herschel. Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb. ECW. Apr. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781770411302. $24.95. SPORTS

Imagine growing up with history’s most aggressive ballplayer, Ty Cobb, as your personal refuge. Herschel Cobb, now 70 years old, presents a memoir of his northern California youth, as much about the torments he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic and abusive parents as about the summers he spent away from them, throughout much of his boyhood, with his paternal grandfather, Ty Cobb. Cobb is still legendary, not only for his unsurpassed MLB records (e.g., his .367 lifetime batting average) but for his fierce base running and stealing and his volatile temperament on and off the field. But that was not the Cobb that his grandson knew, as he relates in a flowing narrative jam-packed with recreated dialog (although never acknowledged as such). Ty Cobb had become a rich man through savvy investing. The death of two of his sons—his namesake of brain cancer and the author’s father from drink—affected him deeply; he mellowed in old age. The author portrays a loving grandfather who was privately generous and a source of stability to his grandchildren.VERDICT Although fans of baseball’s golden age will be curious, this will be more to the taste of readers of survivors’ memoirs. —MH

Fleitz, David L. Napoleon Lajoie: King of Ballplayers. McFarland. Apr. 2013. 100p. illus. notes. bibliog. index.ISBN 9780786468799. pap. $35. SPORTS

When rating baseball’s all-time greats we usually round up the usual suspects: Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio, Williams, Mantle, Mays. Think again, suggests baseball historian Fleitz. Drawing from ratings based on statistical analyses undertaken around 30 years ago, he states that turn-of-the-20th-century star Nap Lajoie, who played for the Cleveland Indians (often then fondly called the Naps) from 1896 to 1916, should be considered among the top three in any such conversation. Fleitz follows with a straightforward, detailed account of Lajoie’s years in baseball, during which the Hall of Famer compiled a .338 lifetime major league batting average, won the Triple Crown, and earned a reputation as a far-ranging, sure-handed second baseman, the first elected to the Hall of Fame. Nap’s non-baseball years are covered much more briefly.VERDICT Though unlikely to capture the popular imagination, this full biography of Lajoie, the first ever, will be welcomed by baseball history buffs. —JB

Garland, Frank. Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball. McFarland. Mar. 2013. 400p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index.ISBN 9780786465347. pap. $29.95. SPORTS

Willie “Pops” Stargell, who died in 2001, was a gentle giant of a player, truly Ruthian in his literal and figurative proportions. Although he published an autobiography in 1984 a couple of years after his retirement, he has never received his biographical due—until now, with two biographies coming out this Spring. [Richard Peterson’s Pops: The Willie Stargell Story (Triumph) was not available in time for this roundup]. Here, Garland not only brings to life the story of a great player, a career-long Pittsburgh Pirate, but also considers the era and its culture, including the tumultuous race relations of the 1950s and 1960s and players’ tendency to stay on the same team for most of their career. VERDICT The stories and accounts (by friends, family, players, personalities, etc.) will light corners of your old baseball collection and rehash old debates, such as whether Stargell’s stats were a victim of his home stadium’s size: his 475 career home-run total should be much higher. Especially for Pirate and Stargell fans. —BM

moyer Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added)OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Moyer, Jamie & Larry Platt. Never Tell Me I Can’t: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time. Grand Central. Sep. 2013. 295p. ISBN 9781455521586. $26.99. SPORTS

When Larry Platt (Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson) spoke with pitcher Jamie Moyer, baseball’s oldest active player (he’s currently 50!) about coauthoring a memoir, Moyer responded that he didn’t just want some self-obsessed, career chronology. So the successful results here, narrated by Platt rather than Moyer, are more a journey discovering critical points of challenge in a player’s life; they reveal the psychology behind a star player’s ups and downs and what it takes to maintain competitive drive for 30 years. Moyer doesn’t pretend he could have done this alone; his success story is as much about the stoic philosophy of psychologist Harvey Dorfman (The Mental Game of Baseball) as it is revealing of Moyer’s own character.VERDICT Guided by Dorfman’s maxims as chapter headings, sports journalist Platt places Moyer’s life and career against the mind game of baseball, in the process achieving a rarity among sports memoirs: a non-ego-driven celebration of an all-star athlete. For all fans of the game and especially those interested in sports psychology. —BM

OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Rosengren, John. Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. NAL. Mar. 2013. 400p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780451235763. $26.95. SPORTS

On one level this is a traditional sports biography. We learn of great Detroit Tiger player Greenberg’s life in baseball, especially his 1937 quest to top Lou Gehrig’s American League record for RBIs in a season (he fell one short) and to best Babe Ruth’s major league home run record (he missed by two). Of more importance, this account of Hank (born Hyman) Greenberg’s life is a reminder that bigotry is an equal opportunity monster. Few today recall that, in 1930’s America, Jews were seen as “others” and scorned almost as much as African Americans were. Greenberg became an icon for American Jews and filled that role with dignity, going about his business effectively and fighting when treated unjustly. This is what made him “the hero of heroes.” VERDICT Rosengren’s well-written book is recommended to all fans looking for a full Greenberg biography to complement Mark Kurlansky’s entry in Yale University Press’s “Jewish Lives” series, or Greenberg’s own autobiography, The Story of My Life , written with Ira Berkow. This should also appeal to readers seeking to learn about social justice. [See also LJ baseball reviewer Robert C. Cottrell’s Two Pioneers: How Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson Transformed Baseball—And America.—Ed.] —JB

wilson Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added)OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Wilson, Doug. The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych. Thomas Dunne. Mar. 2013. 320p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250004925. $25.99. SPORTS

In 1976, America was enthralled by a young, ultra-talented Detroit Tigers pitcher who patted down the mound, conversed with baseballs, shook the hand of teammates in mid-inning, and signed autographs until late at night. America celebrated this fresh-faced phenom who embodied renewal after Vietnam, Watergate, and other national upheavals, and personified a new generation’s aspirations. As with all meteors, Fidrych faded rapidly. Injuries hampered him, but his legend has not died, testimony to his incandescent personality and disdain for material things. This latest biography takes readers through Fidrych’s life, including his many happy years in retirement in Massachusetts and, regrettably, his too-early accidental death in 2009. Wilson (Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds) makes plain by means of a skillful weaving of distant accounts and contemporaneous stories, many raising a tear, that Mark deserved his celebrity and our admiration. VERDICT Highly recommended for all libraries wishing to offer readers a few hours of fun and frivolity and to serious fans an explanation of the mania that last engulfed the National Pastime in a worthwhile way. —GR 

HISTORY

Achorn, Edward. The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game. Public Affairs. May. 2013. 384p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781610392600. $26.99. SPORTS

Achorn (Providence JournalFifty-Nine in ’84) takes us back to when base ball was expressed in two words and one league—until the American Association was founded in 1882. One of its founders was German immigrant Chris Von der Ahe, whose biography is woven through this narrative. Von der Ahe made his fortune in St. Louis catering to other German immigrants with his saloon and beer garden. To increase his beer profits, he purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1882 and revolutionized the presentation of professional baseball: Sunday games; beer sold at the stadium. The American Association folded in 1891, with four of its teams joining the National League. (The American League was not founded until 1901.) Achorn proposes Von der Ahe as the precursor to baseball entrepreneurs Charlie Finley and Bill Veeck, but Von der Ahe died broke, back in a saloon, tending bar. VERDICT An enjoyable book that reinforces how baseball has evolved thanks to America’s immigrants. Recommended, although those owning J. Thomas Hetrick’s Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns may consider it optional. —MH

Banner, Stuart. The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption. Oxford Univ. Apr. 2013. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199930296. $29.95. SPORTS

In this important study, Banner (law, Univ. of California, Los Angeles) provides extensive treatment of organized baseball’s battle with antitrust regulations. He goes back to 1879—before federal antitrust laws were in place—when baseball’s reserve clause was devised, contractually binding a player to a team for the whole of his career. Banner refutes the long-standing analysis that competitive balance and the safeguarding of capital investments required the reserve clause, but acknowledges that many relatively well-paid players felt ambivalent about the clause. He counters stereotypical notions regarding baseball and antitrust law, including the belief that a 1922 Supreme Court ruling asserted that Congress determined “to exempt baseball from the antitrust laws.” Nevertheless, that 1922 ruling was predicated on an analysis of interstate commerce that soon dissipated. Decades of challenges to the reserve clause followed, culminating in the agreement to allow free agency. As of today, baseball’s antitrust exemption remains battered but intact. ­VERDICT Not for casual baseball fans, this is a decidedly strong contribution to the literature on organized baseball and the law.  RCC

Base Ball Founders: The Clubs, Players and Cities of the Northeast That Established the Game. McFarland.May 2013. 100p. ed. by Peter Morris & others. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786474301. pap. $49.95.SPORTS

This is the second of two ambitious volumes on the earliest history of baseball compiled by scholars affiliated with the Society for American Baseball Research, in particular Peter Morris, who has written many meticulous and fascinating histories of early baseball (e.g., A Game of Inches). The volume before the book under review, Base Ball Pioneers, 1850-1870: The Clubs and Players Who Spread the Sport Nationwide , reviewed in last year’s roundup, was broader in geographic scope. This volume focuses on what might be called the cradle of baseball civilization: New York, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, but is no less exhaustive. Along with team histories, both volumes include brief biographies of scores of players and club officials.VERDICT In the introduction, one of the editors writes that a purpose of the series is to provide a comprehensive reference source on the genesis of baseball, and in this they have succeeded. For all devoted SABRites and those who appreciate Morris and his colleagues’ work in enlightening baseball fans on its earliest era. —JB

colton Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added)OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Colton, Larry. Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race. Grand Central. May 2013. 304p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781455511884. $27.99.SPORTS

Former major league pitcher Colton delivers a moving account of the 1964 minor league season involving the Birmingham Barons of the erstwhile segregated Southern League. As his subtitle suggests, he strives to interweave race and sports, and does so skillfully in focusing on the year following demonstrations spawned by Martin Luther King Jr.’s subsequent jailing, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that resulted in the deaths of four girls, and the city’s well-earned reputation as “Bombingham.” Particularly effective are biographical sketches of pitchers John “Blue Moon” Odom and Paul Lindblad, manager Haywood Sullivan, and Kansas City Athletics owner Charles Finley, who had purchased the Birmingham franchise. Young black pitching star Odom, a native of the Deep South, contended with the region’s racism with considerable courage; his white teammate Lindblad treated Odom with respect, earning the accolade “perfect teammate.” All too familiar with Jim Crow practices, Georgia-born Sullivan came to deftly handle the racially integrated Barons, something encouraged by Finley. VERDICT This terrific rendering is highly recommended both to baseball fans and to students of civil rights history and African American studies. —RCC

Martin, Brian. Baseball’s Creation Myth: Adam Ford, Abner Graves and the Cooperstown Story. McFarland. Apr. 2013. 100p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786471997. pap. $35. SPORTS

Grand theft, baseball? The legend of America’s favorite pastime as having been invented in Cooperstown, NY, by Abner Doubleday, thus making it a wholly American game and not of English derivation, is possibly a little too convenient and good to be true. How did that myth come about? Brian Martin suggests a good old all-American conspiracy theory involving a star player turned sporting-goods emperor in A.G. Spalding, desperate to find U.S. roots for the game that had made him wealthy. The subtitular names refer to the man Martin cites for his own evidence here (Ford) and the man Spalding cited for his proof (Graves). The Spalding-Doubleday story is well known. Martin’s refutation of the myth is based on faint evidence that he uses to place baseball’s genesis in Canada. VERDICT An entertaining story of a fledgling sport, with fascinating accounts of the lives of a few men who created a creation myth. As it’s well told, it’s recommended in spite of the Canada theory not being strong. For baseball historians and fans, and of potential value to students of 19th-century American studies because of the intriguing depth and relation of research. —BM

Ruttman, Larry. American Jews and America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Lecacy in Baseball. Univ. of Nebraska. Apr. 2013. 560p. bibliog. illus. index. ISBN 9780803264755. $34.95. SPORTS

Jews have played a key role in baseball history, as has been frequently noted. There is now a celebratory tone to the topic, and this book is firmly within the new tradition. It presents chapter-length profiles of notable Jews involved with the sport (e.g., Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax, Bud Selig) The profiles are arranged by decade, from the 1930s to the present, and include not only the well known players and executives, but unexpected entries, such as notable fan and former Congressman Barney Frank. Current stars include Ian Kinsler and Kevin Youkilis. VERDICT This is more a book to dip into than to read cover to cover. Some of the entries are home runs, such as the one on labor lawyer Marvin Miller, while others are bunt singles at best. For more in-depth and comprehensive coverage turn to the standard, two-volume Jews and Baseball , by Burton A. Boxerman and Benita W. Boxerman. —PK

Weintraub, Robert. The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball’s Golden Age. Little, Brown. Apr. 2013. 464p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316205917. $27.99. SPORTS

The subtitle here may confuse. To most baseball fans, wasn’t the sport’s golden age before World War II? After the war, we got what is usually called the “modern” age of baseball. Be that as it may, this is a punchy history of the transitional time (see Bridging Two Dynasties , below, for a related title), driven by an emphasis on the personalities of the time, both those players who emerged from the war with more to give the game, e.g., DiMaggio, Williams, Feller, and those who represented a new era, e.g., Jackie Robinson, who gave the game his life. Weintraub (sports columnist, Slate; The House That Ruth Built ) also relates colorful stories of managers on and off the field (e.g., Leo Durocher and his womanizing), broadcasters (Red Barber) and front-office men such as Larry McPhail, and the obligatory Branch Rickey. From chapter to chapter the topic changes with no narrative bridge. Weintraub often adopts the language of a golden-era news guy, with phrases such as “a mighty ruckus” and “the press boys.” VERDICT Much of this won’t be new to those who lived then or had parents who did. Recommended, though, as a great choice for rising generations of baseball fans. —MH

TEAMS

Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees. Univ. of Nebraska. Apr. 2013. (Memorable Teams in Baseball History). 368p. ed. by Lyle Spatz. photogs. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780803240940. pap. $26.95.SPORTS

Usually when Yankees fans think of a triumphant year for the pinstripes they think of a golden year in the 1930s, or a later year under Casey Stengel. In this larger-format book, Spatz (1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York) presents what is cumulatively an intense and evocative study of a liminal Yankees season instead, one in which little was expected of a mélange of veterans, rookies, and has-beens. Spoiler alert: they won the World Series. With biographies contributed by various members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and a small number of historical-interpetive pieces as well, e.g., “The Yankees’ Nineteen-Game Winning Streak,” the book is not a conventional A-Z reference; the biographies are arranged within subsections of the season’s time line; for example, Ray Mack gets a biography right after the time line for April 30 to May 22 is presented. (Mack played one game for the Yanks, as a pinch runner, on May 6, 1947). VERDICT The pieces are written in the lively voices of writers deeply instilled with Yankees lore. Fans of the historical Yankees are likely to love this. For every Yankees collection. —MH

Ehrgott, Roberts. Mr. Wrigley’s Baseball: Chicago & the Cubs During the Jazz Age Univ. of Nebraska. Apr. 2013. 504p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780803264786. $34.95. SPORTS

The Chicago Cubs of the 1920s were perennial pennant contenders, featuring a slew of powerhouse hitters, e.g., Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, and Gabby Hartnett. The Wrigley family, of chewing-gum fame, owned the club and was innovative in its fan-friendly approach (starting a Ladies Day, for instance). Sportswriter Ehrgott relates how these years saw the start of baseball radio coverage and the increased influence of advertisers and sponsors. The Chicago of Al Capone (who attended Cubs games) and Prohibition is the backdrop. The book concludes with Babe Ruth’s famous “called shot” in the 1932 World Series: the swaggering Cubs were swept. VERDICT A fun read, if not on a new subject, full of anecdote and color. Recommended for fans of the Cubs or Chicago or baseball history. —PK

mann Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added)OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Mann, Lucas. Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere. Pantheon. May 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780307907547. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907554. SPORTS

This is a hard-hitting examination of minor league baseball and some of the major issues of life in small-town America, in this instance, Clinton, IA. At the hands of Iowan Mann (writer-in-residence, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City), we confront the town and its team, the Lumberkings. Clinton was once home to more millionaires per capita than any other place in America, but is now a dull image of its past; its Class A team in the Seattle Mariners organization is one of around 200 U.S. minor league teams. In this compelling book Mann seeks to humanize not only the players but also the fans who comprise the family of this small-town field of dreams. Overshadowing much of the story is the decline of Clinton, a once proud, mighty union town. At bottom, this work examines honestly, seriously, and at times comically dreams dashed, dreams deferred, and perhaps dreams yet to be realized. VERDICT Like a mixture of Bull DurhamAmerican Gothic, a Coen brothers film, and a Springsteen song. Highly recommended for any serious lover of baseball, small-town America, contemporary American popular culture, or just plain good nonfiction. —SKS

COMPENDIUMS

Bondy, Filip. Who’s on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History. Doubleday. Mar. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780385536127. $24.95. SPORTS

This fun-filled compendium of baseball’s worst hitters, fielders, and pitchers, extends the genre to relate the most overpaid Yankees, the most overpaid non-Yankees, and other dubious distinctions. Bondy (sports columnist, New York Daily News ) additionally pinpoints the oddest players, the poorest teammates, the most ineffective steroid users, the luckiest ballplayers, the weakest father-son pairings, the most inept managers, the once-forgettable players turned expert managers, and the worst owners. He examines miserable fielders such as slugging first sacker Dick Stuart, hard-hitting third baseman Bruce Hobson, the Mets’ Marvelous Marv Throneberry, and the Yankees’ former Gold Glove-winning but yip-infected second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. Most of the bonehead feats are well known, e.g., Bill Buckner’s muffing that easy grounder, Ralph Branca’s serving up of the pennant-winning homer to Bobby Thompson, and Steve Bartman’s interfering with Moises Alou. VERDICT A thoroughly enjoyable light read for all baseball fans. —RCC

Kaplan, Ron. 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die. Univ. of Nebraska. Apr. 2013. 400p. index. ISBN 9780803240735. pap. $24.95. SPORTS

Sportswriter and blogger Kaplan’s first book is a fun and useful guide for finding arguably the best baseball books among the mounds of titles relating to this book-inspiring sport. Kaplan does not pretend to be anything but a longtime fan, knowledgeable and opinionated about both classic and obscure baseball books published since 1882. He divides his selections into 15 sensible categories, including genres, e.g., fiction, history, autobiography/biography/memoir, and reference, and thematic-topical categories such as umpires and rules, minor leagues, and youth literature. Each title selected includes a full bibliographic citation of its initial publication, mentions of later editions, a brief synopsis and evaluation, and a list of other categories in which the work would fit. VERDICT Only the best-read baseball fans will fail to find something new here; the author’s well-informed and well-written comments are compelling enough to make this either a worthwhile light read or a handy reference for all readers of baseball literature. —DK

 

TWO ADDITIONAL WEB-ONLY REVIEWS

OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Facing Ted Williams: Players from the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. Sports Pub: Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. Apr. 2013. 256p. ed. by Dave Heller. illus. ISBN 9781613213377. $24.95. SPORTS
Teddy Ballgame rightly deserves his self-selected title as the “Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.” Fans still debate what his lifetime stats might have been had he not lost thousands of at-bats while serving in two wars. His greatness has resulted in many books devoted to his career, notably Ed Linn’s Hitter: The Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams, and countless in-depth articles including many negative ones. The value of this new book is in the unabashed discussion of Williams’s passion for the game, beginning with Wade Boggs’s foreword and culminating with an afterword by veteran sportscaster Bob Wolff. In between, Heller (sports web producer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) arranges the content by position, with an array of pitchers offering their thoughts, followed by catchers, then infielders and a small number of outfielders, all of whom responded to his call for contributions. Great pitchers such as Bob Feller and memorable players such as Yankees’ third baseman Bobby Brown discuss Ted’s well-known determination not to bunt or hit to left field to defeat the famous shift. Along with contributions by the big names are reminiscences of players who enjoyed the proverbial “cup of coffee in the bigs.” The result is a fast-paced yet not superficial discussion of the National Pastime’s best hitter. VERDICT Essential for baseball fanatics, this should also be perused by fans of all ages.—Gilles Renaud, Cornwall, Ontario 

OrangeReviewStar Spring Baseball Roster |  February 15, 2013 (With Two Online Only Reviews Added) Silverman, Matthew. Swinging ’73: The Incredible Year Baseball Got the Designated Hitter, Wife-Swapping Pitchers, and Willie Mays Said Goodbye to America. Globe Pequot. Apr. 2013. 256p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762780600. pap. $16.95. SPORTS
If you had to pick out one year that epitomized the volatility of the 1970s, 1973 would be it. Watergate was rearing its ugly head. The Vietnam War finally ended. OPEC embargoed oil, sending gas prices soaring. In the midst of all of this, Silverman (Baseball Miscellany) suggests, baseball offered a reprieve. He details how the 1973 MLB season unfolded as it ushered in Willie Mays’s last season, and started two American League phenomena that changed the game: the designated hitter and George Steinbrenner’s ownership of the Yankees. Silverman takes readers around the major leagues, placing the baseball season in the cultural and political climate of 1973 as he does so. Anecdotes about such cultural details as the Atkin’s diet and Archie Bunker do not hinder the larger story as he effectively connects 1973 into baseball history. He crafts a thrilling account of the 1973 baseball season itself right up to the final out of the World Series. The reader will not get bogged down in detail during this fun and fascinating read. VERDICT Highly recommended both for sports fans and those interested more generally in this crucible of a year. They may also enjoy Tim Wendel’s Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever.Jacob Sherman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., San Antonio 


Jim Burns (Jacksonville P.L., FL), Robert C. Cottrell (history, California State Univ., Chico), Paul Kaplan (Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL), Douglas King (Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia, Libs.), Ben Malczewski (Toledo-Lucas Cty. P.L., OH), Gilles Renaud (Ontario Court of Justice, Canada), and Stephen Kent Shaw (history & political science, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID) are baseball fans and LJ book reviewers. Margaret Heilbrun is senior editor, LJ book review.

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