The book: “Bob Feller’s Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom”
The author: Bob Feller (with Burton Rocks)
How to find it: Triumph Books, 176 pages, $22.95
Where we’d go looking for it: Try Powell’s for this one (linked here)
The scoop: In 2001, McGraw-Hill published something called “Bob Feller’s Little Black Book of Baseball Wisdom” (160 pages, $18.95). Both Feller’s and Rocks’ names were attached to it (linked here).
In that, the former Cleveland Indians’ Hall of Famer talks about things like (linked here) growing up in Van Meter, Iowa, this “Field of Dreams” his dad built for him, family values … etc.
Eight years later, different publisher, same authors. The table of contents have it broken down into “nine tenents for success,” which include …
1. Family Values
2. Hard Word
4. Knowing the Value of a Dollar
6. Practicing the Fundamentals
7. Leadership and Teamwork
The advice … pretty much the same yarns. Same parables. Just a different order. And he forgets to tell you to change the oil in your car regularily.
Bottom line: We think he’s taken tenant No. 4 and kind of, you know …
For a guy who’s now 90, and still a lot cranky when we’ve heard him talk about baseball and his legacy, we don’t begrudge him from a little repurposing his own information. Especially if maybe he forgot he wrote a book about the same stuff a few years ago.
One antedote: Page 155 of the new book, Feller writes about being in attendance at the game in Yankee Stadium when Babe Ruth, then very sick, gave his farewell address. That was because the game, in 1948, was against Feller’s Indians.
“Babe used my bat to prop himself up — and it wasn’t done by choice, though I’d liked it if it was. Babe was terminally ill, and knew his dire fate. … He staggered inside the tunnel, making it to the dugout. He then took about three steps, approached the bat rack, and selected from three bats. The bad he selected was used as a crutch to lean against as he walked to home plate. That bat was my bat. I felt honored, even if it was just coincidence, that he was using my bat. After the ceremony was over, he walked back to the dugout using the bat, and put it back in the rack. Then he paused and signed it, returning it once again to the rack. I was elated.”
Now, the real Feller comes out in the rest of the story, which is given parenthetically ..
“I treasured that bat, and yet one of my very own teammates stole that bat from me. It wasn’t accidental; it was stolen. I never saw it again until famed memorabilia collector Barry Halper put it on the market. I bought it back later for $95,000.”
That a baby.
How it goes down in the scorebook: Stolen base.
You ever read “Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime of Golf”? (1992, linked here) He followed that up with “The Game for a Lifetime: More Lessons and Teachings” (1996, linked here). Then there was: “The Wisdom of Harvey Penick” (1997, linked here). Then, in 1999, came “For All Who Love the Game: Lessons and Teachings for Women” …
You see the potential for Bob Feller here?