Day 27: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Another take on the Dodgers (and Giants) leaving New York

As the Dodgers and Giants fight it out again, this time in San Francisco, we revisit the team’s move West from New York more than 50 years ago with …


The book: “After Many a Summer: The Passing of the Giants and Dodgers and a Golden Age in New York Baseball”

The author: Robert E. Murphy

How to find it: Union Square Press, 432 pages, $24.95

Where we’d go looking for it: Amazon has it (linked here)

The scoop: Remember that book by Michael D’Antonio called “Forever Blue” that we reviewed earlier this month (linked here and linked here and even more linked here)?

Here’s the consenting opinion. Or, the prevailing opinion that still lingers in New York from those with abandonment issues.

Murphy’s bio: He lives in Brooklyn. He’s a senior writer for “The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge.” Essentially, he knows his Dodgers and New York Giants background.

From just the bookjacket blurb, Murphy says he’ll reveal: “How legendary power-broker Robert Moses, who has received much of the blame for the team’s departure, actually did more to keep them in New York than is commonly believed.” And: “How the two owners (Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham) carried out secret talks with California officials even while insisting that they had not decided to leave New York.”

In the introduction, Murphy admits he lived within walking distance of Ebbets Field, how his brother John and sister Mary took him to games. “It was wonderful to sit among all those other people who loved the Dodgers,” he wrote. “… Baseball in New York City, where the modern game had developed, gripped a six-and-a-half-year-old boy’s life in the spring of 1956.” He was that kid.

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Day 26: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Love and mercy that’s what you need tonight

The book: “Heart of the Game: Life, Death and Mercy in Minor League America”

The author: S.L. Price

How to find it: Ecco, 320 pages, $24.99


Where we’d go looking for it: Amazon has it (linked here).

The scoop: The excerpted part in the April 20 issue of Sports Illustrated — because Price is an esteemed SI senior writer since 1994 — doesn’t do this book justice, and may confuse the reader as to what the intent of the project really is.

We aren’t out looking for more reminders about what kind of damage a pitched ball can do to a batter. But this is what we get iin SI — Ray Chapman, Tony Conigliaro, Dickie Thon. … Serious injuries. Death, in the first case. Add to that the story that came out over the weekend about the high school player who died from being hit by a pitch (linked here).

Surprisingly, no pro player on any level has been killed by a batted ball. Of the 76 deaths caused in the manner — five of which were a batter killed by his own foul tip — all were in amateur games, with kids as young as 6.

But there’s the story of Mike Coolbaugh, the minor league first-base coach killed by a batted ball in 2007, which led to all base coaches wearing protective helmets (whether Larry Bowa likes it or not). Price’s book is really connecting the Coolbaugh story to the one of Tino Sanchez, the journeyman infielder who hit the foul ball on July 22, 2007 in Arkansas, resulting in his coach’s death.

Price weaves the two families together, in how they shared in the minor triumphs but most-times struggle in a career through baseball. Then this dark day brought them to together — luckily, as Price points out, “the moment itself has slipped past the clutch of modern experience. No television camera captured the ball hitting the coach; no team cameras focused on Coolbaugh as he was struck or falling. Despite the prevalence of cell phone photography and portable recorders and the Internet’s appetite for every recorded event, no Zapruder will surface with footage of the blow. It’s as if, in that sudden erasure of noise just after, a kind hand consipred to wipe away any cheapening visuals, any reductive evidence of so public an accident.” That extends to the official scorebook, by the way. Sanchez fouled the pitch off on a 3-2 count. The game was stopped. The at-bat was never recorded. So Sanchez’s 2,267 career trips to the plate is one short of the one that ended his desire to play baseball.

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Day 25: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Not by George, because, well, he probably isn’t in any shape to write his own story, and he’d just change the ending anyway


The book: “George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire”

The author: Peter Golenbock

How to find it: Wiley, John and Sons, 384 pages, $26.95


Where we’d go looking for it: Amazon has it (linked here). Barnes & Noble has it (linked here)

The scoop: If only to read up on what kind of stuff Joe Torre had to put up with during his days as the Yankees manager — including the insertion of Derek Jeter as the opening day shortstop in 1996 over the Boss’ objections — then here’s the latest, and probably last, book written on King George.

Granted, it’s a lot of things that are rehashed a bit from previous books on Steinbrenner, including one last year we reviewed, “The Ballad of Billy and George: The Tempestuous Baseball Marriage of Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner” by Phil Pepe. Although that book isn’t one of the 21 books that are in the bibliography of material on page 353.

Goldenbock’s approach is almost with a language that tries to match Steinbrenner’s rough and ready personna. Yet he also tries to put a more human side on the egomanical owner, something maybe other books or ESPN docudramas weren’t so generous in trying to spin.

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Coming Sunday: Wax on, wax off, wax Kareem


Michael Owen Baker/Daily News Staff Photographer

You try dragging a tape recorder and notepad into a locker room every night trying to interview Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Or, in this case, to a warehouse in Newbury Park, with Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan all within earshot.

(And, yes, that is Rodney Dangerfield trying to look disinterested in the background as well).

We tried, but Kareem, as expected, wouldn’t cooperate. Which is understandable. This version of a Kareem action figure, which once appeared in the Hollywood Wax Museum, is about to be sold to the highest bidder in an auction on May 1. His days are numbered.

So, with that glazed-over look in his eyes, and painted-on smile, we tried to find out how he felt about the fact he could just be a conversation piece in someone’s rumpus room in the very near future.

This Kareem didn’t seem to have an opinion about it either way.

Meanwhile, you can check out the auction on Here’s the lowdown on the Kareem figure:

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The Media Learning Curve: April 17-24


There is an inherent danger in having ESPN do its 10 p.m. (OK, 1 a.m. if you have no clue where the West Coast lies) “SportsCenter” from across the street from Staples Center — the ripe-for-riff-raff factor.

Like, a badass like Justin Timberlake , aka Jacques Grande from Mike Myers’ nuclear, “The Love Guru,” blowing in to promote … himself, with the cool/dork look.

There’s this YouTube clip (please, don’t watch it, you’ll only encourage him to check how many hits it has had … this is just for-the-record purposes):

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