Monday, August 28, 2017

Review of "Playing Hurt"

This book has the most powerful message of any book I have read since starting this blog over four years ago.  From the very first page, this was a gripping story and I could not put it down. For those who watched the late John Saunders on ESPN, this book will really leave a mark on their souls.  This is my review of his memoir written with John U. Bacon, "Playing Hurt."


Title/Author:
Playing Hurt: My Journey From Despair to Hope” by John Saunders with John U. Bacon
Tags:
Sports Broadcasting, ice hockey, memoir, behavioral health
Publish date:
August 8, 2017

Length:
328 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
This is not a typical memoir of a sports figure. In the very beginning, John Saunders talks about his thoughts of suicide by describing a trip across New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River.  From there, he opens up about the demons that he lived with while battling depression through his entire life until his death in 2016.  This memoir written with John U. Bacon is raw, soul-bearing and a book that a reader will have a hard time putting down.

Saunders was an award-winning broadcaster, best known for his work on the ESPN show “The Sports Reporters.”  He also covered college football and basketball as well as hockey for the network.  The native Canadian was a good hockey player in his youth, eventually playing college hockey in the United States.  When an injury and lack of commitment to the game made him realize he had to do something else for a career, he turned to broadcasting and worked in smaller Canadian cities, Toronto and then Baltimore before ESPN.

Through all of this, Saunders was constantly filled with self-doubt and depression.  In the book, he talks of the physical abuse he endured from his father and the sexual abuse from a female friend of his parents.  He talks of his hurting himself by burning, his troubles with intimacy that resulted in a failed marriage and the constant doubt he had in both his hockey and broadcasting career.  He eventually righted himself to have a good career and a loving marriage with two daughters, but even then he battled demons.  If he wasn’t doubting himself about being a good father, he sank into depression after reading social media postings criticizing his work.  All of this on top of a serious concussion when he blacked out doing a college football show makes his story even more amazing.

What made this book a very gripping read was not only the rawness of this story, but how much he realizes what is happening and yet he feels powerless to control it.  He has great respect for the doctors who helped him and much love for not only his wife and daughters but also for his colleagues who showed their support for him as well.  It is a powerful work that shows how mental health issues can be hidden from the outside world but can deeply affect the people who are suffering.  When Saunders shared his time spent in the psychiatric wing of a hospital and two other patients with whom he formed friendships, it was such a moving message illustrating how people who are suffering share a common bond.

This is a book that must be read – not only to learn more about depression and what it can do, but also to gain an understanding of the man whom many spent each Sunday morning listening to in order to catch up on the sports news. I was always a fan of The Sports Reporters and Saunders, but now I have an even more deep respect for what he did and the legacy he left behind. 

I wish to thank Da Capo Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
Paperback

Buying Links:


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review of "Hoop"

While I normally don't share my lack of athletic ability here and instead read about those who do have wonderful skills, there was a time where I played a lot of basketball and I was able to at least compete at a good level.  For those like me who have ever played the game, this book will either bring back a lot of memories or at least explain why so many of us loved this sport.  Here is my review of "Hoop."


Title/Author:
Hoop: A Basketball Life in Ninety-five Essays” by Brian Doyle
Tags:
Basketball, amateur, short stories, memoir
Publish date:
October 1, 2017

Length:
240 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
Brian Doyle could be considered a hoops junkie. While he never played the game as a college or professional player, he has a deep and profound love for the sport. That is clearly evident in this wonderful book of 95 essays all dedicated to the game he loves.

The book covers a wide swath of topics related to the game.  Doyle writes about coaches in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) leagues and his own days of playing CYO basketball.  He writes about drills like the weave. He, like many others, feels it is a waste of time – how often will a team actually run the weave during a game?  Answer: none.  Also mentioned is the drill every player dreads – suicide sprints (aka wind sprints).  For those who don’t know what they are, read about them in the book. For those who ever played the game and ran them, the dreaded memories will come back.

There is so much more covered about basketball.  The nets on the baskets, the type of court that one plays on, the shorts and sneakers worn, the best player he ever played against, the kid who knew he wouldn’t make the high school team, but played very well in the last practice before cuts – they are all covered in the book along with so many other aspects of the game.

Doyle’s writing on the game drew me in like how a shooter on a hot streak draws defenders.  The more I read, the more I wanted to keep going.  Just as that shooter should be fed the ball as often as possible (another topic of one of the essays) the reader should keep going on with this book until finished. 

Readers who have ever played the game, no matter the skill level or how long he or she laced ‘em up, will want to read this book for the memories and to gain a newfound love for the game itself.  For readers who have never played, but often wonder what draws people to the sport, these essays will tell that in a beautiful manner.

I wish to thank University of Georgia Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying Links:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0820351695/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0820351695&linkCode=as2&tag=netg01-20


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review of "Leo Durocher"

Leo Durocher is a name that many people will recognize, even if they are not baseball fans.  He was a colorful and controversial character and this book is a very complete biography of the man both on and off the field.  Here is my review of "Leo Durocher: Baseball's Prodigal Son"


Title/Author:
Leo Durocher : Baseball’s Prodigal Son” by Paul Dickson, read by Barry Abrams
Tags:
Baseball, professional, biography, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Cubs, Giants, Astros, audio book
Publish date:
April 4, 2017

Length:
304 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
One of the most colorful characters to don a baseball uniform, Leo Durocher had his share of unusual stories as both a player and a manager. Controversy seemed to follow him from the Bronx to Cincinnati to Brooklyn to Manhattan to Chicago and then to Houston.  But through it all, he also gained admiration both as a defensive player and an intelligent, gutsy manager. 

Author Paul Dickson tells many of these tales about Durocher, both on and off the field, in an even-handed balanced manner.  While Durocher had his admirers, he also had many enemies. The one person who seemed to have the biggest grudge against him was the second commissioner of baseball, Happy Chandler, who suspended Durocher for the entire 1947 season when he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers. The evidence that was presented to Chandler was the type that would not hold up in a court of law and Dickson also mentions a letter from a prominent public figure who was Catholic and demanded the suspension because of Durocher’s courting and subsequent marriage of actress Larraine Day, who was married at the time they started seeing each other.

While that was the story that seemed to affect Durocher’s career the most (even to the point of keeping him out of the Hall of Fame until he passed away as Chandler had sway with the Veterans Committer) there is plenty more written about Durocher. The allegation that he stole Babe Ruth’s watch when the two were teammates on the Yankees, the allegation of stealing signals for the Giants that allowed Bobby Thompson to hit the home run that won the 1951 National League pennant for the Giants (something everyone on the field for both teams denies) and his poor treatment of future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Ron Santo when he managed the Chicago Cubs are all covered. 

His off-field life is also covered fairly in and good detail.  His extensive debts, his taste for expensive clothing, his three marriages and divorces and his post-baseball life all make for interesting reading and the writing about them is very good.  The reader will get the complete picture of Durocher, both on and off the field.  Any reader who is interested in the life of “Leo the Lip” will enjoy this book. 

Book Format Read:
Audio book

Buying Links:


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review of "Simon's Cycle Shorts"

This was a review request I received from the author which was a little different than most.  First off, this wasn't a true "sports" book in the sense that it covered more than just cycling or racing - it covered a wide range of topics.  Second, it is a collection of essays and stories - something that I rarely received requests to review.  Third - it was a fun book to read and I am glad the author found my site so that he could send the book.  Here is my review of "Simon's Cycling Shorts"




Title/Author:
"Simon’s Cycle Shorts – They Can Talk, You Know!” by Simon Bever

Tags:
Cycling, short stories, fiction, humor

Publish date:
April 3, 2017

 
Length:
124 pages


Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
One of the more popular clich├ęs to use when something sounds interesting is that someone wishes that he or she could be a fly on the wall.  This collection of short stories and essays told from the viewpoint of a cycle is a variation on that thought in that the bike, in whatever way, was privy to some information and situations that in which more information would be sought by a curious person.

For example, one story told by a bike is about a prominent man who appears to be having an affair with a young woman.  The dialogue between the two bikes, since both people are riding them to this rendezvous, is revealing and hilarious at the same time.  There are also many stories based on real events such as the Tour de France and the Treaty of Versailles. 

As with any collection of stories or essays, there is a mixture of good ones, great ones and ones that a reader may not like or are indifferent toward them.  For me, most of these were fun to read (my personal favorite was about a spin class told from the bikes’ point of view) and some were just okay.  But many more were of the former than the latter that any reader who is in the mood for a light, quick read will enjoy this book.


I wish to thank Mr. Bever for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 
Book Format Read:
Paperback

Buying Links:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review of "Toronto and the Maple Leafs"

This book sounded interesting - how does the hockey team who has not won the Stanley Cup in 50 years and charges the highest prices for tickets still continue to be so beloved in a growing modern city?  The answer, and more, is found in this terrific book by Lance Hornby. He knows a thing or two about the Maple Leafs - he has covered them for 31 years.  Here is my review of "Toronto and the Maple Leafs".


Title/Author:
Toronto and the Maple Leafs: A City and Its Team” by Lance Hornby
Tags:
Ice hockey, professional, history, Maple Leafs
Publish date:
October 3, 2017

Length:
240 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
On December 19, 2017, the Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate their 100th anniversary. The city of Toronto has embraced the team for all 100 of those years and that love affair is still going strong despite the fact that the Maple Leafs have not won a championship since 1967. To put that in perspective, that was the last year in which the NHL had six teams in the league – now five times as many teams compete for the Stanley Cup, but none for the Maple Leafs since then.

So why does this city hold this team in such reverence?  The answer to this question is best explained in this wonderful book by author and sportswriter Lance Hornby, who has covered the team for the Toronto Sun since 1986. Through interviews, research and his own extensive knowledge of the history of the team, Hornby provides readers answers to this question along with wonderful memories of the team’s iconic former home, Maple Leaf Gardens and some zany stories about the arena and players.

The entire history of the team is covered in the book, including its homes and nicknames before Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1931 and the opening of the team’s current home, Air Canada Centre. While those are interesting, the reader will especially cherish stories from Maple Leaf Gardens. There are many recollections from former team players and executives. Many of them have a story – Darryl Sitler has a particularly moving one about his run with Terry Fox. Every one of these men are fondly welcomed back as part of the Maple Leaf family, no matter how few games or how many years they were with the team. 

However, some of the best stories come from other people who had long-time connections to Maple Leaf Gardens such as ushers and long-time season ticket holders.  It is through their visions and memories that the reader will truly feel the bond between the Leafs and the city of Toronto.

For an idea of just how much this team means to the citizens of Toronto, one only needs to hear the story of Mike Wilson, the “Ultimate Leafs Fan” as described in the book. Hornby writes about his collection of over 2000 pieces of Maple Leaf memorabilia and stories behind some of these items.

Other important events in Maple Leaf Gardens are mentioned in the book, such as the first Beatles concert in 1964 and the arrival of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the mess that was created when trying to have both teams as tenants. But these are simply minor distractions. The crux of the book is just what the title says – the love affair between a city and its team.  Hockey fans will want to pick this one up, especially Maple Leafs fans, even if they already know most of these stories.  It is a fun, fast paced book that was a pleasure to read – even for this old Minnesota North Stars fan.

I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying Links:
https://www.amazon.com/Toronto-Maple-Leafs-City-Team/dp/1770413626/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr


Friday, August 18, 2017

Reveiw of "The Quarterback Whisperer"

While I don't consider myself an avid football fan (at least not at the same level I did may years ago), this season is bringing in many great football books.  The latest one I have read is an excellent memoir by Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.  Here is my review of "The Quarterback Whisperer."


Title/Author:
The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback” by Bruce Arians and Lars Anderson
Tags:
Football (American), professional, coaching, Colts, Cardinals, Steelers, memoir
Publish date:
July 11, 2017

Length:
256 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
Bruce Arians is the current head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but has been known to be one of the best quarterback coaches in the history of the NFL. He has been called “the quarterback whisperer” for his ability to get quarterbacks to play to the best of their abilities.  This book with that title is an excellent memoir on how he has been able to connect with some of the best players in recent years to play the position.

Arians states that he believes the perfect quarterback would be a mixture of the following: “ the heart and mind of Peyton Manning, the grit and leadership of Big Ben [Roethlisberger], the athleticism of Andrew Luck and the arm of Carson Palmer.” It isn’t a coincidence that these four men are the players he felt that have been the most successful of those he has coached.

The book reveals many of Araian’s plays, coaching techniques and psychology he uses in order to get the most out of his quarterbacks. It does not get too technical (even his play calling) so that casual fans will enjoy reading this book without getting bogged down, but sophisticated enough that football junkies will also enjoy it as well.

Interspersed within the stories he shares about each of the four quarterbacks, he tells about his family, his early days of coaching at Alabama under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and how he balances his work and family life. Given the workload of current coaches in both the college and professional levels, with many of them sleeping in their offices, it is refreshing to see a dedicated coach be just as dedicated to his family.  Through reading the book, it is clear how much he loves his wife Chris and his children.

More than just a book on X’s and O’s, this memoir of one of the best football minds on an NFL sideline today is one that must be read by all football fans, no matter what level of fan he or she is or what team the reader follows.  It is a fast paced, fun read that will be enjoyed by anyone who opens the book.

I wish to thank Hatchette Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
Hardcover

Buying Links:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-quarterback-whisperer-bruce-arians/1125091829?ean=9780316432269


Monday, August 14, 2017

Review of "Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue"

Books that cover topics which bring back great memories will always draw my attention. This one did that as I remembered watching some great games between these two teams in the 1970's.  Therefore, I was very anxious to read this book.  This is my review of "Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue."


Title/Author:
Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue: Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Rivalry” by Tom Van Riper
Tags:
Baseball, professional, Reds, Dodgers, rivalry
Publish date:
April 13, 2017

Length:
208 pages

Rating: 
3 ½ of 5 stars (good)
Review:
If one asks a baseball fan today which is the biggest rivalry in the game today, the answer would most likely be one of the following three possibilities:  Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals or Dodgers-Giants.  However, if this same question was asked in the 1970’s there would be only one answer: Reds-Dodgers. The intensity of that rivalry in the old National League West division is relieved in this book by Tom Van Riper.

The two teams combined for 9 division titles in the 1970’s, with the Giants in 1971 being the only other team to do so. The star players were numerous – Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez for the Reds, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Don Sutton and Bill Buckner for the Dodgers. The rivalry really took off in the 1973 season, when the two teams battled in a terrific pennant race, one in which the Reds made a big comeback in the second half of the season.

That the author concentrates on the 1973 season was part of what made the book not live up to the expectations for which I had hoped.  There is plenty of information on the teams for that year, as well as some of the players for both sides.  There are even multiple pages of information on the general managers (Al Campanis and Bob Howsman for the Dodgers and Reds respectively) and even the broadcasters (Vin Scully and a young Al Michaels).  Therefore, if one wants to read about these two teams in the 1973 season, this is a very good source.

However, there is little information on the rivalry for subsequent years and that does a disservice to readers who remember how the rivalry sustained itself into the early 1980’s.  There is very little mention of any players who appeared for the teams after 1973, such as Tom Seaver who was acquired by the Reds in a trade from the Mets in 1977.  Also, the book shares very little interesting stories of the players as their write-ups are factual and statistical with few anecdotes.  This format is fine for readers who wish to simply learn this aspect of the players but it lacks the comfort of making the reader feel like he or she is talking to that player.  Also, like many other books with a narrow topic, this one will venture off into unrelated topics such as sabermetrics.  However, many of these do help the reader get a complete picture of that snapshot of this rivalry.

Overall, this book does get a passing grade for the sheer volume of information written about these two great teams from that decade.  However, the very factual style of writing makes it a slow read at times and more of a task than a simple pleasurable read.  Baseball historians and fans of one of these teams will enjoy the book and will want to pick up a copy.

I wish to thank Rowman & Littlefield Publishers for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
Hardcover

Buying Links:


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review of "Drive for Five"

Just when I thought there wasn't anything else that could be said or written about last February's Super Bowl, here came a book about the New England Patriots on NetGalley.  Of course, the 2016-17 Patriots are one of the more remarkable teams in recent years, so I picked up the book and it was even better than I hoped it would be.  Here is my review of "Drive for Five."


Title/Author:
Drive for Five: The Remarkable Run by the 2016 Patriots” by Christopher Price
Tags:
Football (American), professional, Patriots, championship
Publish date:
September 5, 2017

Length:
320 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
The New England Patriots have been one of the most successful franchises in all of professional sports in the last fifteen years. They have won five Super Bowls in that time frame and the latest one, Super Bowl LI, was the biggest comeback win for any team in Super Bowl history. The story of that championship season for the Patriots is captured in this well written, well researched book by Christopher Price.

This championship was probably the most unusual of the five for New England because of the controversy and turmoil surrounding the team through most of the season.  It started when quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games after the investigation into the “Deflategate” controversy.  It continued with the sudden trade of linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns and even ventured into the tumultuous 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump mentioned Brady and coach Bill Belichick during the campaign.

Despite all this, the Patriots managed to win three of the four games without Brady and maintain a professional demeanor off the field and a winning performance on it. How they did it is captured beautifully through Price’s writing. His access to the players and coaches was a key factor in bringing the reader inside the team’s locker room (his account of how a player is picked to get “The Locker” was great writing) and the players’ insights.

Much like the season on the field, the book builds to a climax as the Patriots earn the top seed during the regular season, win two playoff games, then pull off the incredible comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. There is no need to recap all of those games in this review – the book does a fantastic job of doing that.  Even though readers will most likely already know the results, it felt like reading a dramatic novel when the Patriots were making their historic run in the fourth quarter and overtime of Super Bowl LI.

Something that makes this book stand out is all parts of the entire team – offense, defense and special teams – are featured in the book.  While Brady captures a majority of the text (much like any quarterback dominates the play and coverage of professional football today), Price does a very good job of featuring others such as Collins, running back James White (whom Brady himself said should have been the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl) and kicker Steve Gostkowski.

There are passages in the book where Price does show a bit of “homerism” toward the Patriots, such as a passage in which he believes there is a double standard on offensive pass interference calls on tight end Rob Gronkowski. There are not too many of these to make the book too much of a “homer” book and as is the case with many books about teams or players that have long stretches of success, there is a little chest puffing about the accomplishments.  That is understandable and at times, as it is here, perfectly fine to brag.

This is an outstanding book on a remarkable football team and is one that every Patriots fan will want to read to relive the 2016-17 season.  Even more neutral or casual football fans will enjoy reading about this team and its accomplishments.

I wish to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying Links:


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review of "Gratoony the Loony"

When I heard the name Gilles Gratton, I immediately thought of his very cool lion mask.  When I saw he wrote a memoir, I was anxious to read it.  When I saw ARC's offered on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to obtain one.  It lived up to all my expectations.  Here is my review of "Gratoony the Loony"



Title/Author:
Gratoony the Loony: The Wild, Unpredictable Life of Gilles Gratton” by Gilles Gratton and Greg Oliver

Tags:
Ice Hockey, Professional, memoir, Rangers, Blues
Publish date:
October 3, 2017

Length:
260 pages

Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Review:
Hockey goaltenders are often considered to be a little different than other players because of their superstitions, rituals or other idiosyncrasies they may perform.  One of the more colorful characters to have played this position is Gilles Gratton, who played primarily in the 1970’s for the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Toronto Toros and the National Hockey League’s (NHL) New York Rangers.  His colorful career and life is captured in this memoir co-written with Greg Oliver.

More than any accomplishments he did on the ice, Gratton is best known for two eccentric items.  One is his lion mask, one of the best known masks ever worn by a goalie.  He shares the story of the idea for the mask in the very beginning, giving the book a very interesting start.  The inspiration was easy – Gratton’s zodiac sign is Leo, so he felt a lion mask would be appropriate. 


The second item for which Gratton is known is taking the ice wearing only his mask and skates. This occurred when the fad of streaking was in vogue, so he decided to do so on a bet.  This is also a story he shares in which the legend to which it grew to did not match the actual events.  He doesn’t spend too much time on this incident, but he has plenty of other material that fits the title here. Gratton shares many stories of wild times in both leagues both on and off the ice.


The writing is very good for a sports memoir, something that is typical for Oliver.  His contribution to the book can be found throughout the memoir and is the perfect fit for Gratton’s carefree discussion of his hockey career, his escape to practice transcendental meditation and his relationship with his parents, wives and children. This book was as fun to read as it was to watch Gratton play during his career.  Fans of the sport during the 1970’s will want to add this one to their libraries.


I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying Links:

 

 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review of "Perfect"

Baseball fans know all about the struggles players go through to get to the Major Leagues. Sadly, sometimes that experience may be very short.  It may even last only one game - and this book is about one of those players whose one game in the Major Leagues was the best one that was ever played by anyone whose career was only one game.  This is my review of "Perfect."


Title/Author:
Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder” by Steven K. Wagner
Tags:
Baseball, professional, biography, Colt .45s
Publish date:
March 31, 2015

Length:
240 pages

Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review:
Most baseball fans, even those who follow the game closely, will not be familiar with the name John Paciorek.  Some may have heard of his brother Tom who had a long career in Major League Baseball.  John, on the other hand, had a Major League career that lasted exactly one game – but it was as good a game as one could have.  Playing for the Houston Colt .45s, he had three hits, two walks, three runs batted in, scored four runs and made a handful of plays in right field without an error.

The game took place on September 29, 1963, the last game of the season between the ninth-place Colt .45s and the tenth-place New York Mets. This game, and John Paciorek’s subsequent back injuries that were severe enough to keep him from playing in another Major League game, is captured in this book by Steven K. Wagner.  Wagner decided to pursue this writing project after reviewing the statistics of other players who appeared in only one Major League game and he unofficially declared John Pacioriek’s appearance to be the greatest one-game career in the history of the Major Leagues.

Not only does the reader relive the game through play-by-play quotes from Hall-of-Fame broadcasters Lindsay Nelson and Ralph Kiner, the reader will also read about how John Paciorek became a star athlete in high school, his short time in the minor leagues after signing a contract with the Colt .45s and then being brought up at the end of the season by the major league club. This part of the book, as well as the chapters on his subsequent surgery for his back problems and attempts to come back from the surgery, reads like a typical sports biography with information gleaned from research and interviews.

Wagner also writes about side stories from that otherwise ordinary game between two struggling teams.  That day also marked the end of Stan Musial’s career and two other players who would lose their lives during the following off season, Ken Hubbs and Jim Umbricht.  There are also tributes to other one-game career players, including Aubrey Epps who almost matched John Paciorek as he had three hits, three runs batted in and one run scored.  Epps, a catcher, also committed two errors in his one Major League game and recorded six putouts.  His story was even more tragic than John Paciorek as he was stricken with pneumonia during that off season and never made it back to the “show.” Overall, this is a decent book that readers who enjoy reading about relatively unknown players or about baseball history will want to add to their bookshelves.

I wish to thank Mr. Wagner for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
Paperback

Buying Links: