30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 28 >>>>>>>>> To this day, they don’t have Ted Williams figured out … but they can keep trying

The book: “Facing Ted Williams: Players From The Golden Age of Baseball Recall The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”

The author: Edited by Dave Heller

The vital stats: Sports Publishing, 306 pages, $24.95

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells, or publisher’s website

The pitch:  Facing Ted Williams today might be so bad. Scary, for sure. But still …

Consider that you’d be pitching against a 94-year-old frozen in time.

Johnny James, a right-handed pitcher for the Yankees and Angels between 1958 and ’61, says that living these days in Scottsdale, Ariz., he often drives by the Alcor Life Extension cryonics facility where Williams’ detached head is still reported to be chilling out in the hopes of being brought back to life years from now.

“I go by it frequently,” James says on page 89. “I always say, ‘Hi, Ted’ when we do because he was my hero when I was a young boy wanting to be a ball player. My wife, of course, thinks I’m nuts and she’s probably right. She usually is.” Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 27 >>>>>>>>>>> A giant, stirring heart-felt moment from Affeldt

Jeremy Affeldt, right, greets volunteers who helped with his “Something To Eat” project to feed those in need recently. (www.jeremyaffelt.wordpress.com)

The book: “To Stir A Moment: Life, Justice and Major League Baseball”

The author: Jeremy Affeldt

The vital stats: Beacon Hill Press, 191 pages, $21.99

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells, author’s website or publisher’s website

The pitch: Jeremy Affeldt gets the save.

Maybe that’s tough for someone in Southern California who’s supposed to consider the Giants a hated rival. But in a short, sweet and succinct autobiography, the San Francisco 33-year-old lefty relief specialist who has landed with the World Champions after trips through Kansas City and Colorado opens up about a religious awakening that will define his legacy more than just trying to strike out Detroit Tigers in key Fall Classic appearances.

From page 133: “I never thought about justice, poverty or other social issues when I was growing up. I once saw a homeless person and told him, ‘Get a job. You’re lazy. take a shower and cut off your beard. Go to McDonald’s and be a janitor. Do something, man.’ I rolled my eyes and walked away. I didn’t have a compassionate bone in my body — not for the kid who was getting bullied, not for the orphan in Africa, not for anyone.” Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 26 >>>>>>>>>>>>> Trust us, you can only figure this stuff out with a UCLA prof’s help, or you’re stuck in a pile of Messersmith

The book:  “The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption”

The author:  Stuart Banner

The vital stats: Oxford University Press, 290 pages, $29.95

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, or Powells

The pitch: Andy Messersmith didn’t want out of L.A. He just wanted a no-trade clause in his contract so he could pitch for the Dodgers until the end of his career. The Dodgers and owner Peter O’Malley didn’t seem all that sold on giving that up to the pitcher who in 1974 was an NL All-Star and led the league in wins, and then in ’75 had the most complete games and shutouts.

When the arbitration dust settled, Messersmith (along with semi-retired pitcher Dave McNally) was a free man in 1976 — just three years after the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Curt Flood and his right to refuse a trade, a decision that both Messersmith and O’Malley watched with keen interest.

Messersmith eventually circled back to finish his career with the Dodgers in 1979. But neither he nor the Dodgers got what they really wanted out of the deal. Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 25 >>>>>>> Comment all you want about the old, old Comiskey … we miss never having made it there

Where a kid on the South Side of Chicago could dream, in 1988. (Photo by Thomas. C. Harney)

The book: “Portraits From the Park: Comiskey Park Photographs, 1973-1990”
The author: Photos by Thomas W. Harney, text by Thomas Nawrocki, Harney and Ed Maldonado
The vital stats: Columbia College Chicago Press, 93 pages, $35

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells or the publisher’s website

The pitch: Any place that would welcome Bill Veeck as a Hall of Fame owner has to be a destination spot on the baseball map.

And any spot famous for burning disco records between games of a double header has to be a historical monument.

What the 67-year-old street photographer Harney manages to capture, save and reprint in this bound album would probably have made Veeck smile all over again. Continue reading

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