Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baseball Books

I recently blogged about Eric Rolfe Greenberg’s book, The Celebrant, and got a lot of email responses to that blog. Most you had never heard of the book!
by Charlie Leck

Thanks so much for all the wonderful emails and the comments about my review of The Celebrant (The Celebrant and My Old Man). I raised the question about why it was published by the University Nebraska Press. That seems strange to me and I’m sure there is a good reason. I’ve also tried to make contact with Greenberg, the author, but I can’t track him down

Well, in truth, I had never heard of The Celebrant before I got it as a gift this past Christmas – even though it was first published way back in 1983. I immediately caught the marketing blurb across the top of the book by a W.P. Kinsella:* “Simply the best baseball novel ever written!” That was interesting, but I still set the book aside for a few months and picked it up rather accidentally and began reading. Wow! It was wonderful.

Frankly, when I started thinking about it, I realized that I haven’t read all that many baseball books even though I am an enormous baseball fan and I’m terribly interested in the sport at both the small town level all the way through the professional ranks. I tried to think of the baseball books I’ve read in my life. I found the list below of books that have won “The Casey Award” since it was begun in 1983 (The Celebrant was the first winner). Moneyball is the only book on that list that I had read. My bad!

I’ve read a biography about Stan Musial (my childhood hero) and also his autobiography (co-written). What else? I racked my brain! Oh, yes, a book about Ebbets Field by the remarkable historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin. I liked the book so much that I wrote to her about it (no response!). There’s some faded memory about a book about the old “Negro Leagues” also. That’s it! Shame on me! I’ll take a look at the list below and pick out another one or two of these award winners to read.

I’ve sent my copy of the The Celebrant onto my brother and asked him to read it. I sent him Moneyball by Michael Lewis several years ago and he was nuts about that one.

In the meantime, I’m recommending The Celebrant again if you are a baseball nut who also likes to read. It’s a wonderful book. I post this blog only to answer a few of those many questions raised in the emails to me.

Here’s Wikipedia’s list of those books that have won the Casey Award since it was first given out in 1983.

·         1983 – Eric Rolfe Greenberg, for “The Celebrant”
·         1984 – Peter Golenbock, for “Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers
·         1985 – Roger Kahn, for “Good Enough to Dream”
·         1986 – Bill James, for “The Bill James Historical Abstract”
·         1987 – Peter H. Gordon, for “Diamonds Are Forever”
·         1988 – John Holway, for “Blackball Stars”
·         1989 – Mike Sowell, for “The Pitch That Killed”
·         1990 – Harold Seymour, for “Baseball: The People’s Game”
·         1991 – Bruce Kukllick, for “To Everything a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia, 1909-1976"
·         1992 – Phil S. Dixon, for “The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History”[1]
·         1993 – Michael Gershman, for “Diamonds”
·         1994 – John Helyar, for “Lords of the Realm”
·         1995 – Henry W. Thomas, for “Walter Johnson”
·         1996 – Marty Appel, for “Slide, Kelly, Slide”
·         1997 – Thomas Dyja, for “Play for a Kingdom”
·         1998 – David Pietrusza, for “Judge and Jury”
·         1999 – Neal Karlen, for “Slouching Toward Fargo”
·         2000 – Reed Browning, for “Cy Young”
·         2001 – Tom Stanton, for “The Final Season”
·         2002 – Howard Bryant, for “Shut Out”
·         2003 – Michael Lewis, for Moneyball
·         2004 – Leigh Montville, for “Ted Williams”
·         2005 – Jonathan Eig, for “Luckiest Man”
·         2006 – Peter Morris,  for “Game of Inches”
·         2007 – Joe Posnanski, for “The Soul of Baseball”
·         2008 – Kadir Nelson, for "We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball"
·         2009 – Larry Tye, for "Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend"
·         2010 – Howard Bryant, for "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron"

I should add that I do have here on my desk a copy of the above mentioned Howard Bryant book about Hank Aaron. It is waiting to be read (and that will happen soon). It was also a gift this past Christmas.

*W. P. Kinsella is the author is Shoeless Joe (1982). He’s a Canadian writer (novelist and short stories). Shoeless Joe, I learn only now from Wikipedia, was adapted into a movie we all probably know – Field of Dreams (1989). You can see a list of his other published works at this Wikipedia reference.

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1 comment:

  1. You would like "Baseball in 41" - Robert W. Creamer