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Copyright © 2002
by The Idea Logical
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Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville
Sports Book Review
by Harvey Frommer

A member of the Society for American Baseball Research
more info

The late Stephen Jay Gould was a popular science essay writer and a paleontologist. He was also a big time baseball fan, an informed and lifelong follower of the New York Yankees. In “Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville” (Norton, $24.95, 342 pages), the winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, writes insightfully and eloquently about the national pastime.

It was Gould’s friend Stephen King who encouraged this very worthy effort. We are fortunate to have it. All kinds of moving, interesting and sometimes arcane subject matter abound. Gould offers up an essay and an argument on deaf outfielder William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy (lifetime .288 average)who he believed belongs in the Hall of Fame. There is also a piece on Dusty Rhodes, a utility outfielder par excellence with the old New York Giants fans. He was the hero of the 1954 World Series. “Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville” is a keeper.

“Jack Buck Forever A Winner” (SportspublishingLLC, $24.95, 144 pages), is a loving tribute to the Hall of Fame broadcaster who was on the scene for five decades as the Voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. The book is especially recommended for Redbird fans. It has perceptions and reflections from such as Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, comedian Jonathan Winters and a special intro by cardinal manager Tony LaRussa. It is beautifully produced with color and black and white photos throughout, and over-sized.

“More Tales From the Cubs Dugout” by Bob Logan (SportspublishingLLC, $19.95, 215 pages) the author became a beat writer for the Cubs way back when Leo Durocher was manager so he knows the territory and this book is a home run for fans of the little Bruins and baseball fans everywhere – tasty tidbits and longer essays on all things Cubs to enjoy and savor.

“This Ain’t Brain Surgery” by Larry Dierker (Simon and Schuster, $25.00, 289 pages) is a highly opinionated look at the national pastime from one who knows the game. Dierker has been with the Houston Astros in one capacity or another for nearly his entire adult life. He was 18 years old when he made his major league pitching debut on his 18th birthday in 1964. The title of the book comes from the brain seizure he suffered in 1999 and the resulting brain surgery and his quip: “This is brain surgery.”

There is much to like in this folksy, reader friendly rambler of a book. But Yogi Berra, Dierker is not. But he does cover the bases on such topics as pitching, managing, broadcasting. Steroids, the business of baseball, umpires.

What this book could have used was more careful editing, more loving attention. There are clichés, redundancies, flat characters, blurred focus. Dierker spent so many years on the major league scene, a more aggressive editor would have pushed for all the stories the engaging Texan has within him.

“Baseball’s Greatest Season” by Reed Browning (University of Massachusetts Press, $26.95, 232 pages) is an appealing and very interesting book on the 1924 baseball season by a professor of history at Kenyon College. Browning alternated his narrative chapters with others focused on players, business dealings, and other sidelights. No season in the history of baseball has matched 1924 for escalating excitement and emotional investment by fans. It began with observers expecting yet another World Series between the Yankees and the Giants. It ended months later when the hapless Washington Nationals (Senators), making their first Series appearance, grabbed the world championship by scoring the season-ending run on an improbable play.

» Harvey Frommer is the author of 33 sports books, including "The New York Yankee Encyclopedia, "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," "Growing Up Baseball" with Frederic J. Frommer and "Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball's Color Line." His "A Yankee Century: A Celebration of the First Hundred Years of Baseball's Greatest Team" will be published in paperback in October.

Also by Harvey Frommer
» Albert Pujols, Meet Joe DiMaggio!
» "Moneyball" and Other Worthy Baseball Books: Sports Book Review
» Something to Write Home About : Sports Book Review
» The Double No-Hitter: Vandy's Masterpiece
» Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir: Sports Book Review
» Bucky Dent's Home Run: October 2, 1978
» The Ballpark Book : Sports Book Review
» "Pride of October", Bill Madden's Gem: Sports Book Review
» The Two Rogers: Kahn and Angell on Baseball : Sports Book Review
» "Baseball Timeline" and "Baseball Desk Reference": Sports Book Review
» Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston: Sports Book Review
» Al Gionfriddo's Catch
» David Wells' Perfect Game: May 17, 1998
» Yankee Talk: A Sampler
» "Spring Training" is Here: Sports Book Review
» The Men who Broke Baseball's Color Line: Excerpt from Harvey Frommer's "Rickey and Robinson"
» Books on Ballparks and other Baseball Matters: Sports Book Review
» The Golden Voices of Baseball: Sports Book Review
» By The Numbers: A New York Yankees Sampler
» Super Hot Stove League Reading: Sports Book Review
» The First Yankee Home Game: April 30, 1903
» The Most Memorable Moments in Major League Baseball History: Sports Book Review
» Bravo, Nolan Ryan!
» Johnny Vander Meer's Back-to-Back No-Hitters
» October's Baseball Books: Sports Book Review
» New York City Baseball: Once Upon A Time
» The Big Train: Walter Johnson, Baseball Immortal
» Baseball's Best Shots: Sports Book Review
» Wee Willie Keeler: Good Things Come in Small Packages
» Let's Play Two
» The First World Series
» Sandy Koufax, Out of Brooklyn: Sports Book Review
» The 1919 Black Sox (Part II)
» The 1919 Black Sox (Part I)
» Baseball Books On Parade: Sports Book Review
» Yankee Doodle Dandies: Yankee Books: Sports Book Review
» The Harmonica Incident: August 20, 1964
» "Fenway: A Biography in Words and Pictures": Sports Book Review
» Baseball's Mecca: The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown
» Trade a Player a Year Too Early, Not a Year Too Late
» The Yankee Mystique
» Satchel Paige: World's Greatest Pitcher
» "Red Smith on Baseball": Sports Book Review
» The Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia: Sports Book Review
» Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson
» Remembering Irving Rudd
» Subway Series
» Midsummer Classic: Midsummer Mockery
» Yankee Stadium's First Opening Day
» The Birth of Baseball's First Professional Team
» Yankee Stadium's First Opening Day
» Gehrig's Streak
» Willie Mays and the Month of May
» Reese was no Pee Wee
» Yankees vs. Red Sox: Baseball's Greatest Rivalry
» Celebrating Hank Greenberg
» Bobby Thomson's Famous Homer Lives On
» Remembering the Yankee Clipper: Joe DiMaggio
» Shoeless Joe Remains a Scapegoat
» The Mets Have Always Been Amazing

» More submissions

Copyright © 2003 by Harvey Frommer. Posted August 26, 2003.