Frank Lane, one of the most colorful characters in baseball history, has largely been forgotten. Bob Vanderberg, though, didn’t forget.
My former Chicago Tribune colleague and fellow loyal White Sox fan, nails the twists and turns of his eventful career in a new biography, Frantic Frank Lane: Baseball’s Ultimate Wheeler-Dealer.
Beginning with the White Sox in the 50s, Lane earned a reputation for trading anyone and everyone. While GM of the Cardinals, he even tried to deal Stan Musial to Philadelphia for Robin Roberts. August Busch didn’t allow it to go through.
In a Q/A, Vanderberg discusses Lane and makes the case why he should be in the Hall of Fame.
Why a book on Frank Lane? Sound like quite a character.
I kept waiting for one to be done—it never was, so I decided to do it (I … Continue Reading
Here’s a sentence I never thought I would write: If you are looking for a nice Mother’s Day gift, consider buying Mike Greenberg’s new book, All You Could Ask For.
No offense, but while reading the book, there were many times I checked the cover to make sure the author’s name wasn’t Michele Greenberg. You see, the ESPN radio host wrote a book about the intimate details of three women suffering from breast cancer.
I know “Greeny” is an enlightened guy, but the idea of him coming out with a women’s book still seems as unlikely as Martha Stewart writing on the greatest hockey fights of all time.
Yet Greenberg pulled it off. He wrote an entertaining book that has received favorable reviews.
Typical is this contribution from a reader named Amy on a review page:
I loved this book from
… Continue Reading
It’s funny how things work. I would be hard-pressed to remember much about a baseball season from two or three years ago, but I can recite chapter and verse about the summer of ’73.
I was 13 that year and was totally immersed in baseball. The games and statistics left an indelible mark in my mind.
They all came back in clear focus in Matthew Silverman’s fascinating new book, Swinging ’73. If Dick Allen hadn’t broken his leg in June of that year, Silverman might have been writing about my White Sox.
Instead, the book is about a memorable season that featured the end of Willie Mays’ career with the Mets and introduction of a new Yankees owner–fellow by the name of Steinbrenner. Another owner, Charlie Finley, was at his peak, showing equal measures of brilliance and cruelty.
The … Continue Reading
Mark Fidrych was relevant for only a year. But his brief flight was so memorable, it made him one of baseball’s most beloved characters.
A new book by Doug Wilson, The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych, examines 1976, when the Detroit pitcher flew higher than everyone else. And then what happened when injuries quickly grounded his career.
In a review in the Los Angeles Daily News, Tom Hoffarth writes:
This is such an easy sell. Go to a publishing house, pitching them a story on how you’ll reconstruct the life of one of the most beloved big-leaguers in the last half century, a guy who always had a grin on his face and a mop of curly blond hair, talked to baseballs on the mound, shook hands with teammates after they made great plays, got on
… Continue Reading
I was in Walgreen’s the other day and saw the book on the magazine rack. I had to buy it.
I figure I probably purchased my first Who’s Who in Baseball in 1970 or 1971. Now it is an annual rite of spring for me.
Much like it was during 70s, and much earlier than that, Who’s Who hasn’t changed. I am thankful for that.
While I enjoy the advances in new statistics, there’s something refreshing, if not comforting, about the simplicity of Who’s Who.
You won’t find stats like WAR or even in on-base percentage in Who’s Who. Rather, it’s still the basics: Batting average, HRs, RBIs, and the other staples that have been around forever.
Each player has a thumbnail picture and personal information like date of birth, height and weight. There isn’t a bio about the player. … Continue Reading
I love baseball books. In fact, I am in the process of writing one myself (plug alert) on the myth and reality of Babe Ruth’s Called Shot homer. Published by Lyons Press, it is due out next spring.
I hope my effort is worthy of Tom Hoffarth’s attention in 2014. The Los Angeles Daily News sports media columnist really loves baseball books. So much so, that he does an annual review of 30 baseball books in 30 days in April on his Farther off the Wall site.
It has become a rite of spring for me and others who still enjoy a good book about the grand old game. Hoffarth writes about books that you likely wouldn’t find otherwise. Such as: Baseball’s Last Great Scout: The Life of Hugh Alexander, by Dan Austin
Earlier this week, Hoffarth provided a … Continue Reading
As part of his 30 baseball books in 30 days package, Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, has a write-up on the new book: Nailed! The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra.
First, though, Hoffarth writes how Dykstra once tried to recruit him for his magazine:
“I’ll pay you a dollar a word to write for my magazine,” he said about five years ago, after I’d finished having a discussion concerning the MLB draft status of his son, Cutter, about to graduate from Westlake High.
“Lenny, that’s ridiculous, no one gets paid like that,” I told him.
Dykstra gave me the name and number of the editor of “The Players Club,” a very high-end magazine he published that targeted athletes with money to burn.
Kinda like him.
As for the book, it is written by Christopher … Continue Reading
Can you hear the music?
It’s Masters week, which means that numbing theme will be rattling in your head. So be it.
The great thing about the Masters is that it always produces great stories. One of the best is chronicled in an excellent new book: Two Roads to Augusta.
Written by Ben Crenshaw and Carl Jackson, with assistance from Melanie Hauser, it details perhaps the most unique relationship in golf.
In 1976, players had to use Augusta National caddies during the Masters. A young Crenshaw hooked up with Jackson, who started looping at the club in 1958.
They formed a tight bond. Even when the Masters allowed players to use their own caddies, Crenshaw stuck with Jackson. Jackson was on the bag when Crenshaw won in 1984 and then again in 1995. His second Green Jacket was straight … Continue Reading
This is the review I wrote for the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row books section.
The storyline seems the same, only change the sport from football to basketball, and the states from Texas to Kentucky.
Keith O’Brien’s new book, Outside Shot, is the basketball version of Buzz Bissinger’s highly-acclaimed, Friday Night Lights. Much like Bissinger’s book on football in Texas, O’Brien spent a year in a small town in Kentucky, documenting the obsession and at times, the over-exaggerated importance of the local high school basketball team. However, it remains to be seen if Billy Bob Thornton also will play the coach in the movie version of Outside Shot like he did for Friday Night Lights. And let’s not talk about a potential TV series.
Indeed, the comparisons are inevitable between the two books. In O’Brien’s book, there … Continue Reading
Bob Hammel says the response is universal.
“Every time someone asks about the title and they know it’s Bob’s book, they laugh,” Hammel said.
Stereotypes will live on forever about Knight. However, the core of his new book The Power of Negative Thinking is in the subhead of the title: An Unconventional Approach To Achieving Positive Results.
The book, co-written by Hammel, is about Knight’s view of preparation that centers first on eliminating mistakes. He contends coaches and beyond (business leaders) lean too much on hoping something good will happen, an optimistic view that sinks most people. His mantra is “Less hope, more sweat.”
Now retired from the Bloomington Herald-Times, Hammel, 76, goes back with Knight more than 40 years ever since the coach arrived on the Indiana campus. The pair continue to be close friends, talking … Continue Reading