Book recommendations

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Book recommendations from the webmaster

Written by Administrator
Sunday, 31 July 2005 13:42

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Ever read a book about football? There’s a couple of biographies of Vince Lombardi around, and I remember reading a biography of Knut Rockne when I was about ten years old. If you have an above-average interest in football, The Last Coach: A life of Paul “Bear” Bryant, by Allen Barra, is well worth reading. Ice hockey? There’s The Game, by Ken Dryden, that’s pretty good, and Tropic of Hockey, by Dave Bidini, which is excellent. Golf? The remainder bins are full of coffee table books of pictures of courses. Basketball? Soccer? Forget it.

There’s something about baseball that puts it in a class by itself, in terms of attractiveness to writers and readers. Part of it is that drama that takes place between the pitcher and batter every time there’s a turn at bat that goes eight or nine pitches. Another reason is that I know that every time I go to a ball game, every player on the field has a story to tell, and only a small fraction of those stories ever get written down.

This very conveniently leads into the first book on my list, The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn. Kahn got a job with the New York Tribune to cover the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952. He moved on to Sports Illustrated and Newsweek. In 1970, he decided to follow up on the members of the 1952 Dodger team, who had scattered to all parts of the U.S. and gone into other lines of work. His subjects include Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, and Preacher Rowe. Although Kahn is an excellent writer, he had had the good sense to let these people tell their stories. It’s a surprisingly diverse group, even though they played in an era when there were no Haitians, Venezuelans, or Japanese in Major League Baseball.

Kahn also devotes considerable space to explaining how “Da Bums” were such a big part of Brooklyn culture.

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