Blog Archives

Baseball Book Review: “Chasing a Dream” – By CJ Boerger

Saturday December 15th, 2012

“CHASING A DREAM” –  BY CJ BOERGER, 2012

 Chasing A Dream CJ Boerger

 

Jonathan Hacohen  (Baseball Writer and Website Founder): 

 The most popular question I receive at this time of year?  Typically centers around Christmas coming around the corner and the need to buy a gift. Lots of them. For the baseball fan that has everything, what is one to buy? 

I go through this list seemingly every year.  With spring training still a whole 3 months away (along with the World Baseball Classic this upcoming year), baseball fans need some sort of outlet to satisfy their baseball thirst. Baseball dvds are always a good source- as all the classic games are forever enshrined in the video archives. But after having watched ball for the spring/summer/fall, sometimes it is nice to get away from the television. That is when you curl up to a good book and enjoy a baseball read.

There is nothing finer than getting lost in someone else’s world. Reading a story about another person’s hopes, goals and dreams. Where they go and how they get there. All of us have dreams. We spend our entire lives chasing them. Some are attainable, while others elude us. But sometimes it is nice to take a break from our own pursuits and live in another pair of shoes. For 300+ pages, I got to be an outsider in the world of Charlie Becker and learn about his dream.  Read the rest of this entry

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Baseball Book Review: “The 50 Greatest Players in New York Yankees History” – By Robert W. Cohen

Sunday November 11th, 2012

“THE 50 GREATEST PLAYERS IN NEW YORK YANKEES HISTORY” –  BY ROBERT W. COHEN

The Scarecrow Press, Inc.:  2012

 

Jonathan Hacohen:  I’m going to start off this review with a little disclaimer. Despite the similarities of our last names, there is no relation between myself and author Robert W. Cohen. He is a Cohen, I am Ha-Cohen. Fortunately, our surnames is not the only thing that links myself to Robert. After reading his prized book “The 50 Greatest Players in New York Yankees History” (or as I shall call the “50 Greatest Yankees” for the rest of this review), we have a common admiration for the team in pinstripes. Truth be known, for a person loves baseball- they can’t help but respect and follow the Yankees. The history, traditions and of course, the superstars that have played in the Bronx over the years. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can’t stop talking about the Yankees when a baseball history conversation is in play. 

With the final pitch of the 2012 World Series having recently been thrown (and watched for a called third strike to end the game…and season), I found myself with the opportunity to complete the 50 Greatest Yankees. We were fortunate to have Robert W. Cohen appear on MLB reports back in July with a Guest MLB Blog to discuss the book. Now it was time for me to complete the book and discuss it with you, the readers. The timing couldn’t be better, considering that the Christmas holiday shopping season is around the corner. If you want to really impress the baseball fan in your life with a great gift, the 50 Greatest Yankees will certainly be a home run for you. A detailed history of the 50 greatest players to ever put on a Yankees uniform? This is a subject that every baseball fan will want to cover in great detail. Read the rest of this entry

“Painting the Corners: A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories” By Bob Weintraub: Baseball Book Review

Saturday July 21st, 2012

Painting the Corners:  A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories – Volume 1

Iguana Books:  2012

Jonathan Hacohen:  Back in April, we had the chance to interview author Bob Weintraub to discuss his latest book, “Painting the Corners”. With the baseball season past the halfway mark, we now bring you our review of the book. The summer months I find are great for reading baseball books. For those lazy days at the cottage, plane rides, or just curling up on the couch or bed for a nice relaxing read. I have enjoyed many baseball books already, as you will find on our devoted page to Baseball Book Reviews. This has been one of the best years for baseball books in recent memory. With so many titles to choose from, your friends at MLB reports are here to lend a helping hand. To assist you in navigating through all the baseball titles and find the right book for you. We are always on the lookout for something new. Something unique and special. We all love baseball. And we love stories- which makes “Painting the Corners” a winner in my book. Read the rest of this entry

“Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick” – By Paul Dickson: Baseball Book Review

Wednesday June 20th, 2012

“BILL VEECK:  BASEBALL’S GREATEST MAVERICK” –  BY PAUL DICKSON

(Walker & Company:  2012)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  In the continuation search of the best baseball books in the market, I stumbled upon something new and exciting.  Paul Dickson’s biography titled:  Bill Veeck – Baseball’s Greatest Maverick. New and exciting you ask? How could a book on Bill Veeck be new and exciting? For several reasons my friends. Firstly, believe it or not, this is the first major biography on Veeck. Without having read about the man before, I only knew some of the stories and legends that I caught through third-hand stories and the occasional magazine write-ups. I would have expected there to be 100’s of books on this baseball pioneer. But Paul Dickson’s edition is the first major one. 

Considering that I read a baseball encyclopedia by my bedside as a child, I expected to have a fairly decent amount of baseball knowledge. But I was absolutely blown away by the contributions and importance of Bill Veeck to the game of baseball. I gained a great deal of new and important baseball knowledge from reading Baseball’s Greatest Maverick. Before reading this book, I thought that I “knew baseball”. When I was finished, I realized how much I have to learn about the game. How much the game has evolved and changed over the years. Baseball as we know it today may not be in its current state if not for Bill Veeck. He was one of the greatest, if not THE biggest pioneers the sport has ever seen. There had never been another Bill Veeck before he became a part of the game. And unfortunately, there may never be another Bill Veeck again. Considering what the man has meant to the sport, I could not believe that it has taken until now for a true Bill Veeck biography to be available to the public. Paul Dickson, like his subject, became the writing pioneer in bringing the story and legend of Bill Veeck to the masses. Considering how much was on the line for Dickson to be able to deliver Bill Veeck’s story in a single book, I was left in awe and appreciation when I completed the book. Dickson took on a big challenge and he came through with flying colors. Read the rest of this entry

“Third Base For Life: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons, and Baseball”, By Joshua L. Berkowitz: Baseball Book Review

Sunday June 3rd, 2012

“THIRD BASE FOR LIFE:  A MEMOIR OF FATHERS, SONS, AND BASEBALL” –  BY JOSHUA L. BERKOWITZ

(Vantage Point Books:  2012)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  There are very few things in this world that get me emotional in this world. Baseball. Yes, I have a very deep-rooted relationship with the game. For the hardcore fans out there, you definitely know what I mean. But then there is family. My wife. My two boys. That is my ultimate passion. My family is my everything. With my oldest son starting his first season of baseball, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to review Third Base For Life. For like the author of the book Joshua Berkowitz, I don’t just get to watch my son playing baseball. I am also his coach. When I heard about the book, I was very excited. Jewish father, coaching his son and baseball team. This was too good to be true. Being a dad is a role that I take very seriously. It is my most important position. I get to take my children, my boys that I helped bring into this world- to teach them, love them, and help them grow into young men one day. To read about the journey of fatherhood through baseball, this was a book that I could not miss.

To start, here is a blurb on our featured book:

Third Base for Life is the true story of twelve bungling and inept fourth grade boys from a small Jewish day school in Newton, Massachusetts who band together to challenge the top ten-year old baseball talent in the country at Cooperstown Dreams Park, one of the nation’s most prestigious youth tournaments. Every summer since 1996, ten thousand elite players from California to Florida visit Dreams Park in upstate New York to measure themselves against the very best. Major League Baseball’s annual draft is replete with players who at one time in their lives graced the diamonds of Cooperstown.

Third Base for Life is the first hand account of how an ordinary father who has not played baseball since Little League, manages to put together a group of kids from his son’s small religious school and somehow gain admittance into a tournament (and a world) where they simply do not belong. The story spans a year and half of the author’s life as he reluctantly gives into his son’s wishes and, against his better judgment, organizes a team of Jewish “Bad News Bears”. The ragtag group must learn to play baseball, come together as a team, face formidable opponents and deal with tragic illness. Ultimately, as they square off against other teams from across the country whose talent is light-years beyond theirs, the author and the boys learn that losing can bring gifts of its own while finding strength to confront one’s fears can be a reward in and of itself. Read the rest of this entry

“Extra Innings” – By Bruce E. Spitzer: Baseball Book Review

Friday May 11th, 2012

“EXTRA INNINGS” –  BY BRUCE E. SPITZER

(Bear Hill Media:  2012)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  We are full swing into the baseball book season. Stopping by my local bookstore (yes…they still have those as e-books have not yet completely taken over), I went straight to the baseball book section. I was amazed at how many new titles were out. With so much to choose from, picking a new title to read can be overwhelming. Let’s face it- we all have busy lives. There is a strong time commitment required to complete any book from beginning to end. If taken too long to read, the stories and messages can often be lost. Thus the special story that you choose must be worthy of your time. To pick the book, read it from beginning to end and walk away having gained wisdom and enjoyment from it. That is why we encourage reading books here on MLB reports and work to find you the latest and greatest titles. Today’s book is revolutionary in the world of baseball and one that completely blew me away.  Extra Innings, a novel by first time author Bruce Spitzer. Imagine science was able to bring Ted Williams back to life in the year 2092. Do I have your attention? I knew I would.

Here is a brief introduction to Extra Innings, courtesy of extrainningsthenovel.com:

   In the year 2092, Ted Williams, the greatest baseball hitter of all time, is brought back to life through the science of cryonics.

Once again playing for the Red Sox, Williams finds himself trapped in a world he hardly recognizes: the corruption of the game he loves with über-juiced batters and robot pitchers; difficult love affairs clashing with his old desires; and a military conflict of the future in which he must harness the fighter pilot skills he used in his first life.

Dr. Elizabeth Miles is the cryonicist who brings him back to life, initiating a dramatic sequence of medical achievements. She and her young son Johnnie are a constant reminder of what Williams lacked in his first trip around the bases, never devoting much time to love and family. But old habits die hard.

With enemies and allies both on the field and off, Williams must make sense of it all and play on against a machine that he detests, pressure to take the “giddyup” he abhors, unrelenting media mania, and a dystopian world he can’t ignore.

The narrative resonates with the consequences of the major issues we face in our world today—the steroids debate in sports, global warming, corporate greed, technology run rampant, and the moral ambiguity of war.

Extra Innings is alternately poignant and humorous, heartbreaking and joyous. Thought-provoking throughout, it’s a rollicking ride that looks at second chances and redemption, the ability to triumph over adversity, and the search for meaning in this life and the next.

Flawed in his first life, Williams must decide in the second what’s more important, the chance to win his first World Series, or the chance to be a better man?

I enjoyed Extra Innings on many levels. It is a book that made me think, feel and learn all at the same time. Too many of today’s baseball fans grew up having never watched Ted Williams play. Sure, they heard some stories and remember some of the tributes to the baseball great later in life. But not many fans I meet have actually watched Ted Williams play. This is where Extra Innings shines. To be able to imagine a future world where Ted Williams returns, we have to remember and think about Ted Williams in his previous life. The life that many of us missed. Spitzer likely picked Williams for several reasons. Living and growing in Boston, he would have an automatic passion for the Red Sox and Williams. A logical choice. But Williams presents an interesting contrast from days gone by to what the future would be like. Williams was a “man’s-man”.  A throwback. Playing the game hard. Giving it all on the baseball field. Serving in the army. They don’t build many like Williams anymore. From a baseball standpoint, Extra Innings gives the requisite baseball education and information that I always crave in a baseball book. Read the rest of this entry

“The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown” by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo: Baseball Book Review

Sunday May 6th, 2012

“THE BASEBALL HALL OF SHAME:  THE BEST OF BLOOPERSTOWN” –  BY BRUCE NASH & ALLAN ZULLO

(Lyon’s Press:  2012)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Part of our love of baseball, is the art of storytelling. Talking about strange and interesting facts, side stories and statistics. In today’s baseball book review, I have uncovered a gem of a book that contains baseball information that will leave you laughing and fascinated for hours. A little blurb about “The Baseball Hall of Shame – The Best of Blooperstown”:

 

After some 20 years, Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo have returned with the 5th volume of Baseball Hall of Shame, this one called The Best of Blooperstown, but again with original cover art by the great Jack (Mad Magazine) Davis.


These books (and their spinoffs) have sold more than 750,000 copies, making them one of the great publishing success stories in baseball history.  And yes, they are the same books that you read under the covers, afraid that Bowie Kuhn would catch you.  Bet you didn’t know there was a good message behind it all – it’s okay to make a mistake, even these Major Leaguers did!


And here are ten things you WON’T see during this new season, courtesy of the authors: Read the rest of this entry

Painting the Corners – Interview with Author Bob Weintraub

Saturday April 28, 2012

MLB reports:  A new day bring a new baseball book to our world. Bob Weintraub, author has recently published his book “Painting the Corners:  A Collection of Off-Center Baseball Stories.”  Not the typical biography or instructional book – Painting the Corners is a breath of fresh air. A big part of loving baseball is sharing the stories and experiences that are a part of the game for us. As fans. Writers. Viewers. Each of us has our baseball “stories” to tell, those first-hand experiences that stuck with us during key games/moments. Now imagine these tales told by the various personnel within the game. Here is a sneak peek into the world of Painting the Corners:

Bob Weintraub’s marvelous collection of baseball stories goes directly to the core of what the game does for us when we watch it being played on the field, and shows how its heroes and villains can reach into a person’s life and remain a part of us for the rest of our days. The stories are told from various perspectives, including those of the player, manager, general manager, coach, scout, owner, writer, broadcaster and fan.  Each strives for its own sense of authenticity, seeks to introduce characters we’d be comfortable spending time with, and in many cases ends with an unexpected twist.

W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe (Field of Dreams), says that “Weintraub has executed a triple play: savvy baseball writing, unforgettable characters and a home run ending for each tale.”

In “Knuckleball,” a manager is beside himself when he can’t let his star knuckleball pitcher start the seventh game of the World Series because the only catcher he’s ever had in the big leagues suddenly goes down with an injury.  The team from Alcatraz, in “The Way They Play Is Criminal,” has a bag full of dirty tricks waiting to spring on its San Quentin rivals, and it uses them all.  A father on a college tour with his daughter happens upon the very same autographed baseball he saw a friend catch in Fenway Park’s bleachers thirty years earlier, and learns, in “The Autograph,” how a twist of fate has brought the friend together with the player who hit it.  A veteran outfielder goes into the last game of his career batting .299 with 299 home runs and, in “Just One to Go,” gets his only chance to hit with two outs in the ninth.  And in “The Short End of Immortality,” we see that it’s essential for a baseball writer to be totally objective when voting on a player for the Hall of Fame, even if that player has always been married to your mother.

 

To learn about Painting the Corners, we went directly to the source. Featured today on MLB reports is author Bob Weintraub, presenting his baseball book – “Painting the Corners”: Read the rest of this entry

Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick – Interview with Author Paul Dickson

Tuesday April 24, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Today is a big day in the world of baseball, as we are proud to announce the release of the Paul Dickson Biography, “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.” Probably the most important person to influence the game of baseball as we know it today, Bill Veeck was a baseball pioneer. From night games, interleague play, racial integration and so much more, Bill Veeck is responsible for many of the key changes to the game that we take for granted. I was very excited to hear that Paul Dickson had written this book, as all baseball fans that truly love the game must get to know Bill Veeck. With so much information to cover on such an important baseball figure- Paul Dickson was certainly up for the role as biographer. 

As the book is launched today in stores, I had a chance to catch up with the author and cover many topics. From the life and times of Bill Veeck, to the process in creating the book and the road ahead for Paul Dickson. You are in for a treat today folks, as you will get to know about the book directly from the author himself. In talking to Paul, I was blown away by the dedication and commitment he showed in putting together The Greatest Maverick. From the number of people he interviewed and the amount of research he undertook, Paul went to great lengths in putting together the book. Now as Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick hits the bookshelves, you will find out why the book will be an important addition to your baseball library.

 

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with baseball author, Paul Dickson and his newest baseball book – Bill Veeck – Baseball’s Greatest Maverick:


JH:  Thank you for joining us today on MLB reports Paul. Your new book “Bill Veeck- Baseball’s Greatest Maverick” is about to be launched. You must be very excited!

PD:  Very excited, Indeed. The book releases on Tuesday April 24, 2012. My publisher is Walker & Co. The year is important because it is the 50th anniversary of Veeck’s own biography Veeck: As In Wreck, a groundbreaking book which still commands an immense readership. But that book was Bill’s own story—a true autobiography—mine a true biography.

For example, Veeck’s book has a paragraph on his experiences in a war zone in the South Pacific during World War II. It is a full chapter in my book. This is the situation where Veeck was wounded and this is where he became part of a cohort of men who saw combat and came to baseball. Few know that Yogi Berra was in the second day of the D-Day invasion or that  Monte Irvin went in on the 6th day. I interviewed a lot of war vets for the book including Irvin but also the late Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Jerry Coleman, and Lou Brissie who lost part of his leg in combat but came back to pitch for Connie Mack. Read the rest of this entry

“Wilpon’s Folly” by Howard Megdal: Baseball, Business and Legal Book Review

Sunday February 12, 2012

“WILPON’S FOLLY: THE STORY OF A MAN, HIS FORTUNE AND THE NEW YORK METS” –  BY HOWARD MEGDAL

(Bloomsbury:  2011)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  As I close my Google Books reader, I start to reflect on Howard Megdal’s latest book. I finished the book recently, but found myself going back to re-read certain parts over and over. Partly to comprehend the extent of the points within the book. But mostly because it was just damn interesting. Wilpon’s Folly broke new ground in several new ways for me. When I finished it, I felt more educated. I had a deeper understanding for the Mets, their ownership and troubles. I wanted to debate and discuss what I had read. All marks of another hit by one of the top rising baseball writers of our time. If you didn’t know the name Howard Megdal before, you certainly will know it after reading Wilpon’s Folly. Every important writer has their piece of work that puts them on the map, so to speak. Wilpon’s Folly is Howard’s masterpiece. (more…)

MLB Book Review “All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It!” by Curtis Granderson

Tuesday December 27, 2011

“All You Can Be”:  BY Curtis Granderson

(Triumph Books:  2009)

MLB reports – Virginia Califano (Guest Writer):  My adoration for Curtis Granderson began to develop ever since he suited up the pinstripes. Once he homered in Opening Day against the Red Sox in 2010, I was sold. And ever since then, he has given me more and more reasons to love him – especially after his MVP-worthy 2011 effort. What’s not to like about the guy? He’s a real professional – the epitome of what it means to be a Yankee. He was voted one of the friendliest players in baseball by his fellow ballplayers. He’s friendly, but maybe not if you’re an opposing pitcher. The guy can hit. Like, well. And he’s been known to flash the leather. And okay, maybe I have a little “thing” for him…I mean just look at him. He’s adorable. Gotta love that smile. And he’s so smart. I could listen to him talk or watch him play all day long…

I didn’t really think it was possible to admire Curtis Granderson any more than I did. But I came home yesterday to a package at my door from Brad, the young man behind The King Of Sports Blog of the FanVsFan Network. It was Curtis Granderson’s book, “All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports.” Brad thought I’d enjoy reviewing it. He was right.

Needless to say, my infatuation with Curtis Granderson has blossomed even further. “All You Can Be” gets two thumbs up from me.

“All You Can Be” is a children’s book written by Curtis Granderson that consists of Granderson’s lessons to the youth. He shares his personal experiences to give the children further reason to listen to his advice. Although I still consider myself a kid, I’m technically an adult, but I still enjoyed this book. I think “All You Can Be” is an inspirational book for people of all ages, even though it was targeted to the youth. The lessons Granderson shares and the values he wants to instill transcend the scope of time.

The book is creatively arranged so that each chapter is a different “inning” in the game of valuable lessons. Inning one is “Have Fun,” followed by, “Choose the Right Friends,” “Play with Passion,” “Be a Leader,” “Value Your Family,” “Be Yourself,” “Listen and Learn,” “Think Positive,” with the 9th inning as “Never Be Satisfied.” On each page front- and-back prior to the start of a new chapter, there is a selected piece of artwork from a talented student of a New York City Public School. These pieces represent the students’ interpretations of their corresponding chapters. A section entitled “Extra Innings: Dream Big!” consists of eight more honorable mention works of art. Placed within the text, Granderson includes personal photographs of his youth that complement the theme of the chapter.

Along with being beautifully arranged, Granderson’s “All You Can Be” is reader-friendly. The 48-page book is easy to read and moves very quickly. The font is big enough that my Grandma read it with ease (and she too enjoyed it). Granderson highlights key ideas throughout the text in red italic fonts. My favorite part was in the chapter “Be Yourself,” where Granderson recalls being self-conscious about his big “clown feet.” How could people have picked on Curtis Granderson in school? It didn’t bother him for long, though. It just created another lesson for him to share with us.

The ideas presented in this book are things kids should hear everywhere: follow the right people, never give up, be confident in yourself, etc. Then why is this book so special? I think it’s because Granderson shares his personal experiences with us. Kids might think, “Yeah, yeah, everyone says that stuff.” But when Curtis Granderson says it, and he proves that it worked for him, we’re all probably more apt to listen. Granderson stressed the fact that although we are all from different backgrounds and are raised in different environments, we all go through the same things in life. That’s why it is important to listen to people, because they’ve been through it, and can help you learn from their experiences. The values may be simple, but they are solid. And they are the values that got Granderson to where he is today – not only in the professional sense, but in the personal sense as well.

I love the fact that Curtis Granderson always wants to give back. I always thought he was nice, but after reading “All You Can Be,” I knew it was no façade. Curtis Granderson is a genuinely compassionate man with solid values, and his words in this book come from the heart. The stories he shares are ones I think we all can relate to. I know I wasn’t always as confident in myself as I am today, but as Granderson assured, through the love of those who care for me, I’ve grown to really believe in myself, just as he has. In a way, it’s somewhat comforting to know that even a guy as seemingly-perfect as Curtis Granderson has dealt with the same things as we have.

Even though this is a children’s book, I think everyone can learn from it. Granderson teaches the young generation what is important, and reminds us older people that adapting those simple ideas makes us grow to all we can think we be, and then keep on growing.

Curtis Granderson’s “All You Can Be” is a simple yet inspirational work. 

And thank you, Curtis my sweet, for all the great work you do both on and off the diamond.

Thank you to Guest Writer Virginia Califano for preparing today’s book review on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Virginia.  

You can also  find Virginia Califano on Twitter (@VirginiaC816).  Feel free to also check out:   http://pinstripepartisan.com or http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Howard Megdal Interview: Author of The Baseball Talmud and Wilpon’s Folly

Sunday December 25, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I had the opportunity this week to post on our site  my review of the Howard Megdal classic baseball book, “The Baseball Talmud”.  Today, MLB reports presents my interview with the baseball author himself, Howard Megdal.  We discuss many aspects of Howard’s life- from the process of writing “The Baseball Talmud” to a look to his recently released book “Wilpon’s Folly”.  I am looking to forward to getting my hands on his third book and learning Howard’s take on the Wilpon family and state of the Mets.  If “Wilpon’s Folly” is anything like his previous works, Howard will have another winner on his hands. 

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with baseball author, Howard Megdal

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MLB reports:  Welcome back to MLB reports Howard.  Thank you for taking the time for us today to talk about your work.  It was a pleasure to read the Baseball Talmud, your first book which I recently reviewed on our site.  How long did it take you to research and write the book?

Howard Megdal:  Overall, it took over a year. But I’d been thinking about these questions since middle childhood.

 

MLB reports:  What would possess you to pick such an expansive topic for your first ever book?

Howard Megdal:  Well, it was a perfect marriage of my obsessions with baseball and Jewish culture. And I thought it was a book that needed to be out there, but wasn’t.

 

MLB reports:  Were you worried on being typecast as a “Jewish Baseball Writer” by writing the Baseball Talmud?

Howard Megdal:  Not at all. I knew I had many more books in me on various topics.

 

MLB reports:  Favorite Jewish baseball player growing up?

Howard Megdal:  That’s hard, because there was a bit of a dearth as I grew up. By high school, definitely Shawn Green.

 

MLB reports:  After the book was published, did you have any Jewish players approach you to discuss the book?

Howard Megdal:  Well, I’d spoken to many of them during the publishing. But one of the most rewarding experiences I had was when the family of Lefty Weinert came to a book signing to discuss his career.

 

MLB reports:  Can we expect a sequel or follow-up to The Baseball Talmud?

Howard Megdal:  An excellent question- I am certainly open to updating it.

 

MLB reports:  What did you expect The Baseball Talmud would be like when you originally conceived the book and how did it differ once you started to write it?

Howard Megdal:  To be honest, this one stayed true to my vision of it from the very start.

 

MLB reports:  With the release of Wilpon’s Folly- you are slowly becoming a Mets-only writer (after the release of Taking the Field). Fair assessment?

Howard Megdal:  No, I don’t think so. For the same reasons that I didn’t worry about becoming a Jewish-only writer after Baseball Talmud, I am sure topics will take me in many different directions.

 

MLB reports:  After Taking the Field, why write Wilpon’s Folly now?  Did you consider other baseball topics for your third book?

Howard Megdal:  Well, Bloomsbury approached me, because my reporting was addressing the topic in a broader way than most of the other coverage out there. And I agreed that people needed a broader context for what was happening, and what will happen.

 

MLB reports:  Tell us about Wilpon’s Folly- what kind of book is it and what should readers expect when reading it?

Howard Megdal:  It’s a story of huge sums being handled by flawed people, and the ramifications reaching far wider than anyone could have anticipated.

 

MLB reports:  Have the Mets contacted you in any way to discuss Wilpon’s Folly?

Howard Megdal:  Obviously, I spoke to them while writing the book. But no, all I’ve heard is through the New York Post.

 

MLB reports:  What do you think of the Wilpon family?

Howard Megdal:  I think they have suffered a public fall that no one should take any pleasure from, and I wonder how hard life is going to get for them.

 

MLB reports:  What is the future of the Mets organization?  Can the team win with the Wilpons at the helm?

Howard Megdal:  No, they very likely cannot. The future is bright under different ownership, since it is extremely difficult for a New York baseball team not to be immensely profitable. But as long as ownership needs to divert all funds to simple financial survival, a long-term plan is practically impossible.

 

MLB reports:  What is your schedule going to be looking like with the release of the new book?

Howard Megdal:  Same as before: five columns a week for Capital New York, regular writing for the LoHud Mets Blog, MLB Trade Rumors and other outlets. Freelance pieces whenever inspiration strikes. Spending time with my wife and young daughter. Busy, but good.

 

MLB reports:  What is the next project for Howard Megdal?  Can we expect a baseball book per year from you?

Howard Megdal:  An excellent question. Need to talk to my agent and settle on a next book.

 

MLB reports:  If you were to look into a crystal ball, where will you be in 5 years from now Howard?

Howard Megdal:  I hope I’ll be writing, enjoying time with my family, and living essentially as I do now. Wouldn’t want to change a thing.

 

MLB reports:  Last question:  final thoughts for your fans?

Howard Megdal:  Thank you so much. I am gratified that people enjoy reading what I write.

 

 

***A special thank you to Howard Megdal for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this article.  You can follow Howard on Twitter and click here for Howard’s website.***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

“The Baseball Talmud” by Howard Megdal: MLB Book Review

Wednesday December 21, 2011

“THE BASEBALL TALMUD”:  BY HOWARD MEGDAL

(Harper:  2009)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Happy Hanukkah to one and all!  With today being the first day of Hanukkah, I thought that it would be very appropriate to include some Jewish baseball on MLB reports.  Luckily, I just completed a Jewish-centric baseball book and will be reviewing said book for you today.  One of our favorite baseball authors (are there any other kind), Howard Megdal, prepared one of the preeminent Jewish baseball books on the market today.  Howard’s first baseball book is titled:  “The Baseball Talmud”.

You will recall Megdal’s work from our review of his 2nd effort, “Taking the Field:  A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves.”  While “Taking the Field” was centered on Howard’s efforts to campaign to run and fix the New York Mets, “The Baseball Talmud” comes from a very different perspective.  “The Baseball Talmud” is essentially a baseball history piece.  While some players’ names would be familiar to the readers (depending on your age and baseball knowledge), reading “The Baseball Talmud” will prove to be an educational experience for most baseball fans who pick up to read this book.  The Talmud (in case you are not familiar with the term) is a collection of ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish law and tradition.  Commentary and interpretations are the key components of the Talmud.  Thus it is fitting that Megdal labelled his book “The Baseball Talmud”, as the book is an authoritative interpretation of Jewish baseball with commentary.  It is first and foremost a baseball history book- but from a Jewish perspective.

I ended up reading Megdal’s books out of order, as “Taking the Field” was released after “The Baseball Talmud”.  I was actually pleased about this result, as I came into “The Baseball Talmud” with a more intimate feeling and knowledge about Howard Megdal having completed “Taking the Field”.  Even without reading “The Baseball Talmud”, I knew that Megdal had a strong feeling and passion for Judaism and baseball.  It was evident from “Taking the Field”, as well as reading his articles and interviewing him in the past.  Megdal is very proud of being Jewish.  Thus his passion and knowledge of Judaism and baseball made him a perfect authority to write “The Baseball Talmud”.  Knowing Megdal’s background, experience and personality, made me appreciate reading “The Baseball Talmud” that much more.

In my estimation, Megdal pulled off one of the biggest literary miracles in “The Baseball Talmud” (again appropriate given the Hanukkah season).  While most baseball fans enjoy talking about the history of the game to great lengths, most would not at first glance be terribly excited to read a “baseball history” book.  Baseball books can range in different categories, from autobiographies, instructional, statistical and historical.  “The Baseball Talmud” fits mostly into the historical category, with a pinch of statistics spread throughout.  Make no mistake, there are many modern players included.  From Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, Steve Stone, etc., all the “big” name Jewish players that you know and love are discussed and analyzed.  But this book is far from a tribute to Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg.  While two of the biggest Jewish baseball players of all time, Megdal recaps most (if not all) Jewish players that have ever played the game.  Names like Conrad Cardinal, Ed Wineapple, Happy Foreman, Erskine Mayer, Mose Solomon and Jake Pitler are all part of the book.  Not only did I learn about how the many Jews who played the game of baseball, I learned a great deal about the history of the game of baseball as a whole.  The success of this book though is in Megdal’s writing.  “The Baseball Talmud” is very well written with a great deal of history and statistics.  But it is done in a very fun and light manner, with excellent analysis.  Howard Megdal is a storyteller.  One of the best baseball ones that I have ever read.  So if you are jumping into “The Baseball Talmud” expecting a straight history and statistics text, think again.  This book is built upon the baseball stories and commentary within it.

The book is divided into a clean and easy-to-read format.  After reviewing the top Jewish baseball players of all time, Megdal then proceeds to list his top Jewish players at each position.  The lists are very specific, including all three outfield positions and breaking down right-handed and left-handed starting pitchers and relievers.  My favorite section is the all-time Jewish baseball team assembled by Megdal at the end of the book and how his Jewish team would compare to other teams from different eras.  On a personal note, I did take a great deal away from this book given my Jewish heritage and background.  But regardless of my own religion and culture, I would recommend this book to any baseball fan.  Young or old.  Novice or expert.  To really appreciate the game, it is important to know about the different leagues and teams throughout the years.  Players had careers interrupted and shortened due to wars.  Before the age of free agency, player movement was very limited and outstanding players were blocked and often left in the minors or on the bench rather than being given an opportunity elsewhere.  Such key components of baseball are discussed in Megdal’s book.  But again, having Megdal use his superior storytelling abilities in describing the players and their circumstances makes the book a winner.  This was a fun read, that had me laughing out loud many times and thinking throughout.

For the baseball fan in your life that has everything, I strongly recommend running out to your local bookstore or jumping onto a site like amazon.com and purchasing “The Baseball Talmud”.  I can think of many past Hanukkah seasons that I would have enjoyed receiving this book as a gift. It would also make a great stocking stuffer for any baseball fan of any denomination.  While it may seem humorous to receive “The Baseball Talmud” on Christmas morning under a tree or in a stocking, it would be well appreciated by all devotees of the game.  Baseball fans are always looking for more information and “something different”.  Well folks, “The Baseball Talmud” is as about as unique as it gets in the baseball world.  I enjoyed reading several of the chapters to my own 6-year old son.  If we are going to teach our kids as parents about the game of baseball early, it is important to use the right materials!  So Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and an overall Happy Holidays to everyone.  I look forward to hearing from everyone after you had a chance to read “The Baseball Talmud” to debate the rankings of the all-time best Jewish players.  Creating a forum for baseball discussion and analysis is what a good baseball book will do and makes “The Baseball Talmud” a clear winner.

***We highly encourage you to keep an eye out for our interview with Howard Megdal coming soon to MLB reports, as we discuss “The Baseball Talmud” and Howard’s newly released book “The Wilpon’s Folly:  The Story of a Man, His Fortune and the New York Mets”, available now for purchase.  We look forward to reading and reviewing “The Wilpon’s Folly” for you as well in the coming weeks.  Also check out “Taking the Field” and learn about Howard’s experiences in campaigning to become the GM of the New York Mets.  If you enjoy a good baseball read, you can never go wrong with a Howard Megdal book.***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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