Class A: baseball in the middle of everywhereby Lucas Mann. “An unforgettable chronicle of a year of minor-league baseball in a small Iowa town that follows not only the travails of the players of the Clinton LumberKings but also the lives of their dedicated fans and of the town itself.
Award-winning essayist Lucas Mann delivers a powerful debut in his telling of the story of the 2010 season of the Clinton LumberKings. Along the Mississippi River, in a Depression-era stadium, young prospects from all over the world compete for a chance to move up through the baseball ranks to the major leagues. Their coaches, some of whom have spent nearly half a century in the game, watch from the dugout. In the bleachers, local fans call out from the same seats they’ve occupied year after year. And in the distance, smoke rises from the largest remaining factory in a town that once had more millionaires per capita than any other in America.
Mann turns his eye on the players, the coaches, the fans, the radio announcer, the town, and finally on himself, a young man raised on baseball, driven to know what still draws him to the stadium. His voice is as fresh and funny as it is poignant, illuminating both the small triumphs and the harsh realities of minor-league ball. Part sports story, part cultural exploration, part memoir, Class A is a moving and unique study of why we play, why we watch, and why we remember.” (Random House, Inc.)
Color Blind: the forgotten team that broke baseball’s color lineby Tom Dunkel. “During the Great Depression, out in drought stricken North Dakota, one of the most improbable teams in the history of baseball was put together by one of the sport’s most unlikely champions. In Bismarck, a decade before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues, car dealer Neil Churchill signed the best players he could find, regardless of race, and fielded an integrated squad that took on all comers in spectacular fashion. Color Blind, from award-winning journalist Tom Dunkel, tells this remarkable, largely forgotten story.
When baseball swept America in the years after the Civil War, independent, semi-pro, and municipal leagues sprouted up everywhere. Color Blind immerses the reader in the wild and wonderful world of independent baseball, with its tough competition and its novelty – from all-brother teams and a prison team (who only played home games, naturally) to one from a religious commune that sported Old Testament beards. Dunkel traces the rise of the Bismarck squad, and follows them through their ups and downs, focusing on the 1935 season, and the first National Semi-Pro Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. This is an entertaining, must-read book for anyone interested in the history of baseball.” (Perseus Publishing)
Heart of a Tiger: growing up with my grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb. “The previously untold legacy of Ty Cobb Ty Cobb is a baseball immortal, considered by many the greatest player who ever lived. In an age when the game was young and tough, he cultivated a reputation as the fiercest competitor of them all. Yet after he retired, he realized that the very qualities that helped him reach the pinnacle of his profession also undermined his relationship with his own children. He was deeply depressed when two of his sons died at a very young age. Cobb never had the chance to bridge the emotional distance between them. Herschel Cobb grew up in a chaotic, destructive household. His father was cruel and abusive, and his mother was an adulterous alcoholic. After his father died, when Herschel was eight, he began to spend a portion of each summer with his grandfather. Along with his sister and brother, Herschel visited Ty Cobb at his home in Atherton, California, or at his cabin at Lake Tahoe. These days were filled with adventures, memorable incidents, and discoveries as “Granddaddy” warmed to having his “three redheads” with him. Heart of a Tiger is Herschel Cobb’s moving account of how a retired sports star seized a second chance at having a close family, with his grandchildren the lucky recipients of his change of heart. He provided wisdom, laughter, and a consistent affection that left an indelible mark. He proved the enormous power of a grandparent to provide stability, love, and guidance. As he developed this new, wholly different legacy, in turn he would finally come to peace with himself.” (Perseus Publishing)
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club: Chicago & the Cubs during the jazz ageby Roberts Ehrgott. “Chicago in the Roaring Twenties was a city of immigrants, mobsters, and flappers with one shared passion: the Chicago Cubs. It all began with the decision of the chewing-gum tycoon William Wrigley to build the world’s greatest ball club in the nation’s Second City. In this Jazz Age center, the maverick Wrigley exploited the revolutionary technology of broadcasting and attracted eager throngs of women to his renovated ballpark.
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club transports us to this heady era of baseball history and introduces the team at its crazy heart—an amalgam of rakes, pranksters, schemers, and choirboys who take center stage in memorable successes and disasters. Readers take front-row seats to meet one Hall of Famer after another—Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Joe McCarthy, Lewis “Hack” Wilson, Gabby Hartnett. The cast of characters also includes their colorful if less-sung teammates and the Cubs’ nemesis, Babe Ruth, who terminates the ambitions of Mr. Wrigley’s ball club with one emphatic swing.” (Univ of Nebraska Press)
The Victory Season: the end of World War II and the birth of baseball’s golden ageby Robert Weintraub. “In 1945 Major League Baseball had become a ghost of itself. Parks were half empty, the balls were made with fake rubber, and mediocre replacements roamed the fields, as hundreds of players, including the game’s biggest stars, were serving abroad, devoted to unconditional Allied victory in World War II.
But by the spring of 1946, the country was ready to heal. The war was finally over, and as America’s fathers and brothers were coming home, so too were the sport’s greats. Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio returned with bats blazing, making the season a true classic that ended in a thrilling seven-game World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. America also witnessed the beginning of a new era in baseball-it was a year of attendance records, the first year Yankee Stadium held night games, the last year the Green Monster wasn’t green, and, most significant, Jackie Robinson’s first year playing in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ system.
The Victory Season brings to vivid life these years of baseball and war, including the littleknown “World Series” that servicemen played in a captured Hitler Youth stadium in the fall of 1945. Robert Weintraub’s extensive research and vibrant storytelling enliven the legendary season that embodies what we now think of as the game’s golden era.” (Grand Central Pub)