Category Archives: Jim

Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball by Ronald T. Waldo (2016)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Characters from the Diamond

Characters from the Diamond
by Ronald T. Waldo
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016
278 pages

Baseball, at its root, is a game, it’s meant to be enjoyed and to have fun. It’s hard to remember that as the great game of baseball has turned into a business that turns many fans away. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit back and be reminded about how much fun the game of baseball can be? Fun yet played at the highest level?

In Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball, you will be reminded of how much fun this game can be. Focusing on the late 19th century and early 20th century, author Ronald T. Waldo does a great job of telling funny stories about those that made the game so great. From players’ high jinx on the field, to fiery managers and hot headed umpires, you will be captivated by stories that will make you laugh and show you how the pioneers of baseball had fun playing the game.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Purchase Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball by Ronald T. Waldo.

Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool by Keith Dunnavant (2015)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Montana biography

Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool
by Keith Dunnavant
Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
336 pages

Joe Montana is one of the biggest name in sports, in the world. Ask a kid who follow’s Manchester United in Manchester England and he is still going to know who Joe Montana is. As a Bengals fan in early 1989, I remember watching Super Bowl 23 with my family and feeling the “pain” of a Joe Montana comeback leading the 49ers to a crushing Super Bowl win over my beloved Bengals. The Bengals have never been close again.

In Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool, you get to know the history and the behind the scenes stories of some of Joe’s biggest comebacks and victories. Keith Dunnavant does a great job of laying out the great history of Joe Montana without overdoing it with game by game details. He starts off with Joe as a child and takes you, year by year, through his great NFL career, concluding in Kansas City. I was especially interested in hearing the details of his battle on the field with his Hall of Fame backup in San Francisco, Steve Young. I especially enjoyed the details of his brief time with the Chiefs. Although he didn’t win a Super Bowl there, he showed that he was still a great quarterback able to win football games. It’s a great, easy read, you’ll have a hard time putting this one down.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool by Keith Dunnavant.

Parcells: A Football Life by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio (2014)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Parcells

Parcells: A Football Life
by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio
Crown Archetype, 2014
544 pages

Whether you follow football or not, you know the name Bill Parcells. He is a Hall of Fame coach with a big personality and was always good at providing a good audio clip when talking to the media. Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a behind the scenes look at this complex man and what makes him tick? You have your chance now, as you follow him from his upbringing in northern New Jersey to the day he was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame.

In Parcells: A Football Life, you will get a behind the scenes look of Duane “Bill” Parcells and his life and career in football. Stories like how standing up to a neighborhood bully as a child shaped his conviction to be confrontational, as it clears the air. You’ll also hear about his friendships with such men as Bob Knight, Jerry Jones, Leon Hess and many, many others. You’ll hear about a game early in the career of Knight, when he was coaching at Army, and as they were leaving, Parcells, there supporting his friend as a fan, punched out a fan trying to hit Knight. Then Knight and his team form a protective “bubble” around him as they leave the gym and the police looking for him. There are many many other good stories in this book, good luck trying to put it down!

Learn more about Crown Archetype.

Purchase Parcells: A Football Life by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio.

The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers by Jon Pessah (2015)

The Game

The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers
by Jon Pessah
Little, Brown and Company, 2015
656 pages

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

As sports fans there is so much we see and then we draw conclusions based on what we observe. This book will show you all that you didn’t know. Centered on three men, Don Fehr, George Steinbrenner, and Allan “Bud” Selig, you learn how these three men played a big role in how the game of baseball is today, at least professionally. You will get a behind the scenes look at labor negotiations, the running of the Yankees empire and the egocentric, selfish ways of Major League baseball’s ninth Commissioner.

In The Game by Jon Pessah, readers get a unique inside view of how Selig and the owners forced out former Commissioner Fay Vincent until Selig decides to retire. Selig is a man obsessed with his own image and legacy and doesn’t care who gets in the way of improving his perceived image and legacy. Steinbrenner is ruthless and cut throat, but as you see how his life ended and how many of the men who worked and played for him adored him, your heart will soften towards him. Fehr is portrayed as the stubborn union leader who is ultimately and incorrectly blamed for baseball’s steroid problem. This book is an easy and entertaining read, good luck trying to put it down.

Learn more about Little, Brown and Company.

Purchase The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers by Jon Pessah.

For the Love of Baseball: A Celebration of the Game That Connects Us All edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner (2014)

fortheloveofbaseball

For the Love of Baseball: A Celebration of the Game That Connects Us All
edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner
Skyhorse Publishing, 2014
256 pages

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

They say baseball is a sport fading in popularity and that it is struggling to stay relevant. People are allowed to have opinions and they are allowed to be wrong, as well. Baseball is a great sport that I personally love and I enjoyed reading about others who love it as well, for many different reasons. This is a book written by not one person, but 24 different authors, all with a unique perspective on the great game of baseball. One author shared how she had a pretend career as a baseball player, and talked about how that played out. Who hasn’t had a pretend career in baseball? For the record, I’m a pitcher, who throws a great sinker and am still going strong at age 36. One author shared about his time as a bat boy for the new York Yankees and how Don Mattingly sent him looking for a bat stretcher before a game. You didn’t know that they had those? Neither did I….until i slowly picked up on the joke.

In For the Love of Baseball you will realize that there are others out there who love this great game and share similar, if not the same, affections for the game of baseball. It is a great book to read at the beginning of the season, to get excited about the upcoming year, or anytime in between. You’ll also learn some cool facts in the book, like how Finland has a version of baseball, that there are many different models of baseball gloves and you’ll read about the heart breaking story of Billy Southworth. Take some time to read this great book and remember why you love this great game, why you still look at the boxscores and why you still get excited, like you did as a kid, to walk into a ball park with the excitement of what you are about to experience.

Learn more about Skyhorse Publishing.

Purchase For the Love of Baseball edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner.

More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies (And the Phillie Phanatic Too) by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne (2013)

beards

More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies
(And the Phillie Phanatic Too)

by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne
Sports Publishing, 2013
272 pages

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

The 1993 Phillies were one of many good teams to fall short of winning a title but they were truly one of a kind. They didn’t have any superstars, just a bunch of guys who played the game hard, with heart and left it all on the field. In More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps, authors Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne take a behind the scenes look at the 1993 Phillies, a team that lost the World Series that year in heartbreaking fashion. Readers also get a unique behind the scenes look at the Phillie Phanatic, the most popular mascot in the game.

The Phanatic has been pulling pranks and making fans laugh—or making them angry—since April 25, 1978, and you get to hear all about what went into making the Phanatic successful from the men who brought life to the green suit. As you read through the stories of the 1993 Phillies, stories about the Phanatic keep popping up when you least expect it, just like real life! The players had just as much fun as the Phanatic, from John Kruk, Darren Daulton and Curt Schilling to Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, you will learn about the players’ approach to the game and that season and how it led to their success. Even if you are not a Phillies fan, More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps is a great read—not just for baseball fans, but for anyone who likes to laugh and can relate to people who have been written off by others but are able to rise to success.

Learn more about Sports Publishing.

Purchase More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne.

You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim (2014)

al michaels you cant make this up

You Can’t Make This Up
by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim
William Morrow, 2014
304 pages

[Review by new TWJ contributor Jim. We are excited to have Jim as a part of the TWJ team, and look forward to future reviews!]

When I saw Al Michaels had written a book, I knew I would have to get my hands on a copy to hear all the great stories he had to tell. I was not disappointed in the least. Al was flawless in relaying hundreds of stories over his career and beforehand as well. Born to a loving mother and father in Brooklyn, Al never had to eat vegetables and grew up watching the Dodgers at Ebbets Field after attending school n the morning because the school was too crowded for him to go all day. Then he moved to Los Angeles and attended Arizona State University to develop his broadcasting skills.

Of his many stories, one of the highlights for me was him talking about his first impression of Cincinnati when he arrived. He was the broadcaster of a minor league team in Hawaii before he came to Cincinnati, so he was taken aback by the winter scenery. He also felt that living in the great state of Kentucky was a little too much of a step back from Hawaii. He tells of a time when Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall cussed out some players who were playing a joke on him and it went out on the broadcast. Growing up listening to Nuxhall, I laughed, picturing him doing something like that. All in all, You Can’t Make This Up is a great book for any sports fan. Al has experiences in many different sports, so there is something for everyone.

Learn more about William Morrow.

Purchase You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels.

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