Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sports Book Reviews by Harvey Frommer

Sports Book Reviews
by Harvey Frommer

This is the time of year that all kinds of sports books with all kinds of slants
appear. For some they are “hot stove reading.” For others, they are part of
the annual cycle – spring books. For your information and reading pleasure,
herewith some to sample. The New York Yankees Home Run Almanac by 
Douglas B. Lyons is a slim paperback (Sports Publishing, $14.99, 177 pages) 
featuring as its sub-title notes “The Bronx Bombers’ Most Historic, Unusual 
and Titanic Dingers.”
Also from a Yankee perspective is The Baby Boomers by Bryan Hoch (Diversion Books, $24.99, 272 pages). It contains most of what any reader would want to know about the new generation of the next Yankee dynasty.
Getting to Us by Seth Davis (Penguin Press, $28.00, 284 pages) focuses on how great coaches makes for great teams. Nine coaches are given the up close and personal and analytical look by Davis. The book is “inside sports” and makes for interesting reading.
The Away Game by Sebastian Abbot (Norton, $26.95, 336 pages) is an in depth look at the quest to find the next great star in the world of soccer. The scout who triggered icon Lionel Messi’s career in Barcelona headed out in 2007 across the continent of Africa on his arduous quest. What Josep Colomer and his team did and how they did it is all part of this fascinating tome.
Court Justice by Ed O’Bannon (Diversion Books, $25.99 304 pages) is focused on the spell-binding story of the author’s battle against the NCAA. For those interested in one man’s search for justice and right, this is the right book for you as the former collegiate star and pro hoopster goes inside his battle with no holds barred.   
One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan,Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone. 
 A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth
College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni
magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.
   His ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK can be instantly purchased from:
AMAZON: http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html.
Article is Copyright © 2018 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide 

Monday, February 12, 2018

How Professional Baseball Began by Harvey Frommer


                            How Professional Baseball Began
Harvey Frommer

      

        With baseball paying out bigger and bigger salaries and the sport continuing to expand its global reach, it is mind-boggling and consciousness-raising to flash back to its simpler times and simple origins as a professional sport, a time of the  Cincinnati Red Stockings - baseball's first professional team.
        Attorney Aaron B. Chapman organized the team and looked upon it as a way to promote the city of Cincinnati, its products and services. And Chapman looked upon Harry Wright as scout, recruiter, player and manger - as a man to get a job done.           
        An English-born former jeweler and cricket player and a veteran of a decade of top-drawer baseball competition, Harry Wright was a strict disciplinarian and a shrewd promoter. He decreed that his team was to wear bright red stockings to set off their white flannel shirts and pants and dark Oxford shoes. The garb was a bit outlandish for the time, but the outfit attracted attention and that was what Wright and Chapman were after.
      The Red Stockings were referred to as a "picked nine". That might have been an exaggeration, but it was a nine picked by Harry Wright.
      The only native of Cincinnati on the team was first baseman Charlie Gould, nicknamed the "bushel basket" because of his ability to snare baseballs. Other members of the team included Wright’s brother George (a star shortstop), who batted .518, drive in 339 runs and hit 54 home runs in 1869; third baseman Fred Waterman; second baseman Cal Sweasy; outfielders Asa Brainard, Dave Birdsall and Andy Leonard; catcher Doug Allison and pitcher Cal McVey. Harry Wright doubled as a relief pitcher and Dick Hurley functioned as a utility player.
        The Red Stockings were the first team to travel across the United States with its players signed and bound to the club for an entire season. Salaries for the team covered the period from March to November and ranged from $800 to a high of $1,400 for George Wright. The lone sub picked up $600. The total payroll for that historic 1869 season was $9,300.
       Playing baseball throughout the Northeast and West, traveling 11,000 miles thanks to the new transcontinental railroad, the Red Stockings won all 69 of their games. They were rewarded with a private audience in Washington as President Ulysses S. Grant complimented what he called "the western Cinderella club" for its skills and winning ways.
    Although the Red Stockings helped boost business wherever they played and their fame increased each day, the team's net profit for 1869 was a miniscule $1.39 after all salaries and expenses were laid out.
     In 1870, the Red Stockings extended their winning streak to 130 games until the Brooklyn Atlantics broke it.
     The team's impact was not for one season, or for two campaigns, but rather for all time. Baseball as a professional sport was now underway. The success of the Red Stockings made it sunset time for the amateur in baseball and dawn for professionalism.

One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.
A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com where books he has written can be purchased.






Tuesday, February 6, 2018

BoSox Sidebars: Spring Training - by Harvey Frommer

BoSox Sidebars: Spring Training, “The Kid,” Tom Yawkey & more

With the Super Bowl behind us thoughts turn in New England to perhaps the area’s most beloved sports team –the Boston Red Sox. Herewith for your reading pleasure, snippets about the Old Towne Team.
Enjoy.    
Harvey Frommer



Ted Williams and Yogi Berra

MEL PARNELL:  I was 25-years old in 1947 when I went to spring training at Sarasota, Florida, with the Red Sox. There were two spots open on the pitching staff, six of us vyingHarry Dorish got one; I got the other.  
I came into Fenway Park for the first time and saw that leftfield fence, and I thought maybe I had signed with the wrong organization. But it helped me work on making a change in my pitching style. I came up as a fastball pitcher but soon realized I would have to use a lot more breaking stuff. Pitching at Fenway Park makes you a better pitcher as you move along.
I pitched  my first major league game on April 20 against  Washington. Frankie Hayes, an old veteran player, was my catcher. I lost that game, 3–2, on a passed ball. I guess that's why I remember Frankie. 
It truly impressed me as a rookie kid to see Mr. Yawkey on the field taking batting practice with us.  I didn’t see him hit any balls out, but he got some close to the wall. The kids who worked around the ballpark would shag flies for him. When he was done, he would give each one a twenty-dollar bill. 
SAM MELE: I started my major league career on April 15, 1947.  It was against the Philadelphia Athletics at Fenway Park. I walked my first time at bat. Then I doubled off the left field wall. Next I singled. Then I walked again.
I was just thrilled to be there in the outfield with Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams.    “Any ball you can get, you chase me the hell off," second baseman Bobby Doerr would tell me. "But don't yell ' I got it, I got it' just once. Two or three times and I'll get the hell out of the way." We would never run together and never did a ball drop in. 
DOM DIMAGGIO:  Sam Mele wasn’t a bad outfielder.  Ted Williams wasn’t a bad outfielder either especially at Fenway  - - he played that wall nicely.   I enjoyed a challenge, and Fenway Park did offer a challenge because of its structure. I mastered the ballpark and got along beautifully with the fences; they didn’t hurt me and I didn’t hurt them.
I did not shoot for the Green Monster.  No.  I was an all-around hitter, a line-drive hitter, a damn good one too.  I loved to hit in Fenway.
SAM MELE:  I was moved around by the hand signals. Ted and Dom were veterans and I was just beginning my career. Well, every team was different naturally.  Guys hit to right field no power, give me the palm, go in.  Go back against the good hitters, like Mo Skowron, go back.  He had good power to right field.  
Right field, oh how fucking tough that was to play. The sun came right over the stands.  And the  carom along the right field fence… you cannot go directly towards the wall for the ball.  You gotta surround it because it curves.  And if it ever goes by you it would end up, oh, half way to centerfield.  
At that time, they did not have the walls padded. I went into the right field wall and banged into it.  Right after that they padded the right field  wall. I went into the bullpen fence. Later on they padded the bullpen fence.
  After every game, everybody--Dom, Pesky, me, Doerr--would all gather around Williams' locker and we would talk about what happened that day. We would talk about what was going to happen tomorrow, and if Ted didn't know about the pitcher for the next day, he would ask everyone of us, maybe we saw him and he didn't, maybe we saw him in the minors, maybe we knew something about the guy....  
I always sat next to Williams in the dugout.  Matter of fact he would call me over if I didn't. "You sit here." He used to tell me about the pitcher: “Look for this, look for that, he's fast, but his ball doesn't move as much as somebody else’s.“   
If he didn't know that pitcher he would go up and down the whole dugout wanting to know: "Has anybody seen this guy?  How's his curveball?   Slow?  Does it go down and in?  Has he got a sinker?”  Things like that.
On May 13, 1947, Ted Williams more than made good on a promise to a boy in the Malden hospital that he would hit a homer for him. “The Kid” hit two home runs for the kid. Both were pounded to left field, the first pair he'd hit there in his career. The roundtrippers paced  a 19-6 walloping of the White Sox. 
The Red Sox's longtime owner was never enthusiastic about night baseball. As The Boston Globe's Hy Hurwitz reported, "Yawkey is strictly in the baseball business" and added that Yawkey didn't "believe in fashion shows, nylon hosiery, door prizes and other nonsense." 
Finally, bowing to League pressure, Yawkey yielded, agreeing  to 14 night games, two with each American League team. The Red Sox became the last club in their league to play under the lights at home.
ABOUT 
HARVEY
FROMMER 
One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan,, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, DrHarvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox  and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the Yankees than anyone. In 2010, he was honored by the City of New York to serve as historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site, Heritage Field
A professor now for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com. Autographed copies of his books are available from the author.