Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cult Baseball Players edited by Danny Peary

Interesting book that I'd hoped would be as good as The Glory of their Times.  It wasn't, through no fault of its own, exactly.
Glory was told to Lawrence Ritter by the ballplayers themselves (and then edited by Ritter). This book is written by professionals in other endeavors, like yours and mine, about their favorite ballplayers.  Because of this, and because the writers are usually writers themselves, this comes across as maybe better-written, but not as interesting, as it's not from the ballplayers' POV.

But there's a certain coolness in that as well.  It made you think of your own associations with ballplayers, if you've had any.  I have: Wade Boggs nonchalantly picked up and returned my baseball to me--without signing it; Matsuzaka ignored me so rudely that people around me openly wondered what his problem was; Jason Bay blanched and stammered in front of me at Fenway Park.  Not because of me, but...Well, you'll have to buy the thing that publishes it.  And that's what I mean about this book's coolness: It made me want to write about my own memorable experience with a ballplayer.  And then sell it to be published, of course, cuz that's what I try and do.

So here are pieces written by Elmore Leonard, without his iconic dialogue and violence; by Tim McCarver, who's as long-winded in print as he was on the Fox telecasts, and many others.

I recommend reading it in the winter, as I have, because it reminds you that there is in fact a summer, when games like baseball are played.  But also because the book is only sometimes about baseball; at times it is more about the players, the times they played in, and those who they played with.  It reminds you that there is more to life than what is currently going on in front of you, which in my case has been days and days of snow-blowing, followed by today's 40s, which will be followed by tonight's single-digits and Wednesday's 5"-8" of snow.

But that's okay.  Baseball is right around the corner.  Spring training is happening right now.  And the lives of those who play it go on and on, even off of the field.  It's important to remember this.

Having said that, my first game this season is April 14th, at Fenway.

About 53 days away.  And yes, I'm keeping track.  There's more to the ballplayers than what happens on the field, but the field is where we see them, and--right or wrong--is often all we care to know about them.