TWJ contributor Patrick has done it again, delivering a fantastic rendition of the 1975 Fleer “Pioneers of Baseball” to honor the late Dr. Frank Jobe. The original set contained 28 cards and featured such legends as Eddie Collins, Ed Delahanty, and Mordecai Brown.
But wait…there’s more! Patrick even made a back for this particular card, creating a number 29 for the set!
Stellar work as always, Patrick! It may not be Tommy John surgery, but your “fun card” contributions are always a blast to see.
(July 16, 1925 – March 6, 2014)
The man who performed the surgery that came to be named after pitcher Tommy John, Dr. Frank Jobe has passed away.
I picked up four packs of 2014 Topps Stickers tonight at Target, and decided to play pack wars with the family when I got home. Everyone picked four numbers, a team, player, photo type, position, and first or last initial. If you get a match out of your own pack, you get three points. If you get a match from someone else’s pack, you get one point.
I thought I was being smart picking the Yankees, but there was only one in the four packs. My oldest son ended up winning. Luckily I pulled a Red from my pack, and got several other good players from my wife and oldest son. He kept his Cal Ripken, but I got his Robin Yount. The Red I pulled was Jay Bruce:
I like the mascot stickers too, especially the little cartoon in the corner:
Even though I didn’t win the war, I’m happy with what I ended up with. I gave my youngest son all the stickers I didn’t want, plus he got to keep all the ones he pulled. If you see any above you are interested in (except for Bruce), let me know if you have some Reds to trade for them.
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
edited by Laurie Lamson
Many writing tutorials promise exercises and prompts, but fall short on delivery. The Now Write! series, however, offers multiple applicable exercises for each chapter of instruction. Dozens of contributors give their best practices to get you writing better and more often. Some of these writers are pretentious and their snobbery jumps off the page within the first few sentences of their article, but if the reader can see through the author’s ego, the exercises are still worth the time.
That said, there are some very helpful chapters in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Jessica Page Morrell’s “The Villain’s Handbook” is a primer for creating memorable monsters. Janice Hardy’s “So, What Do You Know? Deepening Your World Building Through Point of View” helps you get to know not only your characters but the world they live in, which helps you inform your audience through the character’s point of view. Jay Lake’s “Flashing Yourself” is great for warm-up writing to get your creativity flowing.
The resources in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror are particularly helpful to young writers still trying to find their place in the world, but also serve as good reminders to those who have been writing for decades.
Purchase Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror edited by Laurie Lamson or explore other titles in the Now Write! series.
Tales From The Deadball Era
by Mark S. Halfon
Potomac Books, 2014
The basics of the game of baseball will never change. There will always be a pitcher throwing a ball to a batter whose goal is to hit the ball into play, reach base, and eventually score a run. But the way those basics are approached and the equipment used in the execution has changed vastly. Mark S. Halfon takes readers of Tales From The Deadball Era back to a much different game featuring some of the all-time greats like Ty Cobb and Cy Young. Though their names are still huge today, Halfon examines the obstacles they overcame to achieve greatness.
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, pitchers had many advantages over hitters. Dirty, lopsided baseballs were hard to hit because they were hard to see; they were hard to hit far because of the way they were manufactured. The dimensions of the ballparks were so vast that a batted ball rarely went over the fence; most home runs were inside-the-park incidents. Spit balls and emery balls and other “freak” pitches were allowed. Batters adjusted the way they approached the plate, choking up on a heavier bat to give them a better chance of hitting the ball where they wanted to hit it.
Cheating and gambling were not only commonplace, such activities were often condoned so long as it was done for the benefit of the team. Attitudes changed eventually, evidenced by the handling of the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal of 1919. Speaking of the “Black Sox,” the author debunks many of the myths that have been passed down through the years by researching the news stories of that time, shedding light on some of the misconceptions of how baseball was perceived in the aftermath.
Baseball was a tougher game during the deadball era, one that would surprise and confuse and possibly appall fans of the modern game. Halfon transports his readers back to that time, giving them an inside look at the minds of the baseball legends of that day. Tales From The Deadball Era is highly recommended for baseball history buffs.
No band epitomizes southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Putting together an “Ultimate Mixtape” for these rebels wasn’t easy, but revisiting each album and listening to the songs anew was a rewarding experience. They have evolved over the years without betraying their roots, and while the band’s recent releases are not as timeless as the material recorded in the seventies, it is still worth the listen.
A reminder of how the “Ultimate Mixtape” works:
- Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
- That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
- Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
- Live albums are a waste of time. There are exceptions to this rule, especially in the case of Skynyrd. In some cases, the live recordings are even better than the studio efforts.
Let’s get on with JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Lynyrd Skynyrd edition…
“Free Bird” (pronounced ‘lĕh-’nérd ‘skin-’nérd, 1973)
“Sweet Home Alabama” (Second Helping, 1974)
“Saturday Night Special” (Nuthin’ Fancy, 1975)
“Gimme Back My Bullets” (Gimme Back My Bullets, 1976)
“Call Me The Breeze” live (One More From the Road, 1976)
“What’s Your Name” (Street Survivors, 1977)
“Down South Jukin’” (Skynyrd’s First And…Last, 1978)
“Simple Man” live (Legend, 1987)
“That Smell” live (Southern By the Grace of God, 1988)
“Double Trouble” outtake version (Skynyrd’s Innyrds: Their Greatest Hits, 1989)
“Smokestack Lightning” (Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991, 1991)
“The Last Rebel” (The Last Rebel, 1993)
“All I Have is a Song” (Endangered Species, 1994)
“Travelin’ Man” (Twenty, 1997)
“Workin’” (Edge of Forever, 1999)
“Santa’s Messin’ with the Kid” (Christmas Time Again, 2000)
“Red White & Blue (Love It Or Leave)” (Vicious Cycle, 2003)
“God & Guns” (God & Guns, 2009)
“Ready To Fly” (Last of a Dyin’ Breed, 2012)
Tackling the “bonus tracks” section for Lynyrd Skynyrd proved more challenging than other bands because there is so little out there outside of the band. Original vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, as far as I can tell, never recorded with anyone else. There were some post-Skynyrd bands for Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Artimus Pyle, but not a lot of output from them—and a lot of what is out there is now out of print and very expensive. Johnny Van Zant had a few solo releases as well as some albums with his brother Donnie from .38 Special. Ed King and Rickey Medlocke performed with other bands prior to their involvement with Lynryd Skynyrd, while Billy Powell worked with Kid Rock in the 21st century. All that adds up to only eight bonus tracks.
Strawberry Alarm Clock (with Ed King) “Incense & Peppermints” (Incense & Peppermints, 1967)
Blackfoot (with Rickey Medlocke) “Train, Train” (Strikes, 1979)
Johnny Van Zant “Only the Strong Survive” (No More Dirty Deals, 1980)
Rossington-Collins Band “Don’t Misunderstand Me” (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, 1980)
Artimus Pyle Band “Town To Town” (A.P.B., 1981)
Allen Collins Band “Just Trouble” (Here, There & Back, 1983)
Van Zant “I’m a Fighter” (Van Zant, 1985)
Kid Rock (with Billy Powell) “All Summer Long” (Rock n Roll Jesus, 2007)
It’s fun to chase the rabbits and hear what these guys did outside of Skynyrd, but it’s even more fun to hear it all together from “Free Bird” through “All Summer Long.” Get your Amazon account primed to download these songs, or replace a few of your choosing and make your own “Ultimate Mix Tape: Lynyrd Skynyrd edition.”
(September 29, 1921 – February 24, 2014)
Guitarist for Bill Haley & His Comets from 1954 to 1962, Franny Beecher passed away in his sleep at the age of 92. Beecher composed several songs for the group, including “Goofin’ Around.”
by Denise Jaden
New World Library, 2014
Books about writing are a dime a dozen, and all contain essentially the same information: identifying your characters, your setting, and your theme; formulating your plot and your scenes; bringing that all together to write a cohesive novel. The first half of Denise Jaden’s Fast Fiction is essentially just that, perhaps using some different words and ideas to get the point across, but the point ends up being the same. However, Jaden ends the first half of her instruction manual on novel writing with a challenge that may be familiar to those who have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): write your goal down in writing, with a start date and end date, along with either daily word counts or time commitments.
The true value of Jaden’s Fast Fiction, however, is found in the second half of the book. The book is named Fast Fiction because it designed to help one write the first draft of a novel fast—fifty thousand words in thirty days, or approximately 2000 words each day. Daily encouragement, with prompts for those times that the creativity isn’t quite flowing or the writing seems dry. Each day is filled with motivation and inspiration, a little push to keep you going, and a reminder of where you should be in your story.
Fast Fictionis an essential part for every writer’s arsenal, one that can be used anew with each literary project. I will begin writing my novel using Jaden’s guidance, and I encourage you to do the same.
(November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014)
Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, Animal House—these are just a few of the films from the brilliant career of Harold Ramis. He passed away today from complications from the autoimmune disease vasculitis.
Ask More, Get More
by Michael Alden
Emerald Book Company, 2014
If you suffer from insomnia, you have probably seen Michael Alden on an late-night television infomercial. He is the CEO and founder of Blue Vase Marketing, LLC, and is a wealthy man despite his upbringing as a poor kid in a poor neighborhood. Alden’s success came from a determination to ask more of himself from a young age, and through the pages of Ask More, Get More he encourages his readers to do the same, claiming to teach “how to earn more, save more, and live more…just by asking.”
Ask More, Get More is not a get-rich-quick scheme, nor is it a proponent of mooching off the government with no view to self-sufficiency. Rather, the book attempts to instill in the reader a determination to receive better things by doing better things. Taking advantage of the opportunities—mostly created by each individual—and asking for more of yourself in each situation. Alden tells several motivational stories from his own life, including his own failures and shortcomings. Rather than making excuses for those times that he did not immediately succeed, he takes responsibility and encourages others to prepare for bumps in the road.
Ask More, Get More is a motivational book that is full of not-so-common sense that will help you get more out of yourself and others that work with you, no matter what your lot in life. If this is something that appeals to you, I will do what the book suggests and ask if you would consider purchasing it by clicking on the “purchase” link below.
With a 43-day turnaround, I added two autographed Joe Oliver cards to my collection through the mail. The former Red autographed both cards I sent to him (1991 Kahn’s and 1993 Upper Deck) with a fantastic looking signature.
Oliver was a second-round draft pick for the Cincinnati Reds in 1983 and made his big-league debut in July 1989. He was the catcher for the 1990 World Championship team and spent eight of his 13 seasons with the Reds. The remainder of his major league service was split between Milwaukee, Detroit, Seattle, Pittsburgh, the Yankees and Boston, and also spent time in the Tampa Bay organization. His career came to an end in 2001 after amassing 102 home runs and 476 runs batted in and a .247 batting average in 1076 games.
An interesting note: Oliver’s most similar player was the catcher he replaced in Cincinnati, the late Bo Diaz.
Jared Lorenzen, injured quarterback for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, has announced that he is finished playing indoor football. The “Hefty Lefty” said the decision was due in part to his broken leg, but added, “I’m tired of being burned by ownership.” Fort Thomas Matters has the full story.
- What the Bailey extension means for the Reds [Redleg Nation] (JT sez: That’s a lot of money, but if Homer lives up to that potential we were promised six years ago, it’s a steal.)
- Mike Leake, Donald Lutz happy with their Topps baseball cards [Cincinnati.com]
- The Mystery of Cincinnati’s Mr. Red and His Number 27—Solved [Todd Radom Random Thoughts]
- Creating a couple of custom Kiner cards [Bob Lemke's Blog]
- More Horror Icons Reimagined as Garbage Pail Kids! [FearNet]
- Bob Feller Museum faces financial hardship [Paul's Random Baseball Stuff]
- Why Stormtroopers Always Miss [Pikstra]
(July 14, 1952 – February 17, 2014)
Guitarist Bob Casale of Devo passed away yesterday from heart failure. Casale was one of the original members of the band along with his older brother Gerald and three Mothersbaugh brothers.
Sit & Solve Baseball Crosswords
by David J. Kahn
Puzzlewright Press, 2014
Spring training is underway and the regular season is right around the corner; baseball is on the minds of millions of fans across the country. Crossword puzzles are a great way to exercise one’s mind, and with David J. Kahn’s new series of baseball crossword puzzles, one can exercise his mind while thinking about baseball at the same time!
The forty-two never-before-published puzzles in Sit & Solve Baseball Crosswords range from medium to difficult, with an emphasis on America’s pastime. If you know who the name of the Hall of Famer with the .331 batting average, or the 1988 NL MVP, or the last player to wear uniform #42, then you can take a crack at some of these puzzles. There are general knowledge questions as well, but the baseball historian will surely be able to figure out even the most obscure non-baseball clues by filling in the answers he is sure of.
While the are not all easy, they are all fun. Sit & Solve Baseball Crosswords would make a great gift for any baseball fan, one sure to keep them entertained for hours.
I previewed a few cards last month, but today is the official roll-out day for 2014 TWJ baseball cards! Card #1, shown last month, was Jay Bruce; card #2, shown above, is Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
These are not real baseball cards. They are “fun cards,” virtual cards, whatever you want to call them. One will be posted every day on the TWJ Cards tumblr, so go follow along there. I will not be posting them every day here, so the only way to catch them all is to follow the tumblr!
(April 4, 1942 – February 14, 2014)
Former big leaguer Jim Fregosi, who played for the Angels, Mets, Rangers, and Pirates, and managed the Angles, White Sox, Phillies, and Blue Jays, passed away today after complications from a stroke. He was only 71 years old.
Fregosi was a six-time All-Star and received MVP votes in eight straight seasons. The Angels traded him before the 1972 season to the Mets for Frank Estrada, Don Rose, and Leroy Stanton. Oh yeah, and Nolan Ryan. As a manager, he won the NL Pennant with the Phillies in 1993.
Pink eye sidelined Bob Costas from the Winter Olympics, and TWJ contributor Patrick was on top of it, sending in two “fun cards” highlighting this strange turn of events. Above Patrick pays homage to Garbage Pail Kids, one of the greatest non-baseball trading card series of all-time. The banner is from Series 10 (September 1987) and later; I personally prefer the banner from the first nine, as those are the cards I remember best. The art for this actually comes from the All-New Series 5 released in April 2006.
The second “fun card” TWJ contributor Patrick sent in hearkens back to the 1991 Studio set and uses an actual photo of Costas with his crazy glasses.
Thanks for the submission Patrick! Great job as always!
At The Old Ballgame: Stories from Baseball’s Golden Era
edited by Jeff Silverman
Lyons Press, 2014
As a fan of baseball history, I love to immerse myself in books about the players and teams of the past. Rarely, though, do I see a book that goes all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century. At The Old Ballgame, edited by Jeff Silverman, does just that. Silverman presents a number of stories, poems, and articles from 1867-1921, both fictional tales and actual accounts of games.
On the fictional side, you can’t get any better than “Casey At The Bat,” the epic poem penned by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, and Grantland Rice’s sequel, “Casey’s Revenge.” Ring Lardner’s satirical “My Roomy” is also included, and I found myself laughing several times as the author claimed he would be happy to sign for the coming season as long as he could pick his own roommate.
The historical pieces are fascinating as well, a snapshot of different aspects of the game. Christy Mathewson writes about jinxes. Grover Cleveland Alexander explains his performance in the 1915 World Series. Candy Cummings describes his discovery of the curveball. A Chicago reporter opines that the 1919 World Series was won fair-and-square, despite the rumors.
There will be a great deal written and talked about this world’s series. There will be a lot of inside stuff that never will be printed, but the truth will remain that the team which was the hardest working, which fought hardest, and which stuck together to the end won. The team which excelled in mechanical skill, which had the ability, individually, to win, was beaten.
Twenty-two old-time pieces gives us a glimpse into the game as it was played during simpler times. At The Old Ballgame is perfect for baseball lovers of all ages.