20 down, 10 to go … keep on bookin’

Legally, we’re not sure if we can show you the marked-up legal pad that we’ve been using to keep track of all the books rotating in and out of dates we have slotted for them during the 30 days of April. But we will anyway:

To date, here are the 20 books we’ve done, with 10 go to: Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 20 >>>>>> To Ty Cobb’s grandkid, history is all relative

The Ty Cobb statue outside Comerica Park in Detroit

The book: “Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with my Grandfather, Ty Cobb”

The author:  Herschel Cobb

The vital stats: ECW Press, 279 pages, $24.95

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

The pitch: Ty Cobb made headlines in Southern California, as recently as 2011.

The great, great grandson of the Hall of Fame Detroit Tigers outfielder, also named Ty Cobb, enrolled at Occidental College to play, of all things,  Division III basketball. Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 19 >>>> More hero worshiping with the legacy of Hank Greenberg

The Hank Greenberg statue as it sits outside Comerica Park in Detroit.

The book: “Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes”

The author: John Rosengren

The vital stats: Penguin, 392 pages, $26.95

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

The pitch: As a follow up to Thursday’s “American Jews & America’s Game,” we have more (again) on the former Tigers’ slugger who, when we last looked it up, wasn’t keen on being known as a hero.

Mark Kurlansky’s interesting take on Greenberg from 2011 gave us the impression that he was “the quintessential secular Jew, and to celebrate him for his loyalty to religious observance is to ignore who this man was.” The title included the headline: “The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One.”

Other approaches to Greenberg’s life — his own autobiography with Ira Berkow, reissued in 2009, for example, along with the acclaimed documentary on Greenberg from 2001 — give the same impression.

As the Angels start a three-game series against Greenberg’s former team this weekend in Anaheim, we’ll divert from the usual book review here to allow Rosengren, who used 100 books as a reference in his bibliography, to explain his approach from a recent e-mail exchange we had: Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 04.19.13 — It’s a keeper

What made it into today’s weekly sports media column:

Circling back to the review we did of “Keepers of the Game: When The Baseball Beat Was the Best Job at the Paper” by Dennis D’Agostino, we’ve got more from the author on why he thought it was important to get this out now. Smokes and chokes makes a return to the new format at well, with news about Bob Miller’s upcoming book signings, the Long Beach Grand Prix TV coverage, and ESPN’s next attempt to clarify its media sources.

What didn’t make it:

== You will not get a fix-it ticket for driving a truck around in Long Beach with this design attached to the outside. Continue reading

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What Paul Sunderland saw, felt and can’t get out of his head from Boston: “Now I know what terror looks and feels like”

The range of emotions someone like Paul Sunderland has today is understandable, just hours removed from landing back in Southern California from three days spent in Boston.

The longtime broadcaster and former Lakers play-by-play man was assigned by NBC’s Westlake Village-based Universal Sports Network to host the live national TV coverage of Monday’s Boston Marathon.

This was a city he had visited dozens of times before. He returns home and admits: “Now I know what terror looks and feels like.”

There is measured infuriation in his voice. He pauses to collect his thoughts. He wants to capture the proper perspective of what he saw.

“Please, not to compare what I went through to what the victims went through,” Sunderland said this morning from his home in Malibu. “I was close to it all, but I’m OK. For so many others, their lives are forever changed.”

When the first bomb on Boylston Street went off, Sunderland had just finished walking up through that people-pack thoroughfare and finally reached a production trailer on Exeter Street about 50 meters away, not far from the race’s finish line.

“It took 25 minutes just to walk those two blocks,” he said. “I followed a young mother pushing a stroller with twins as she cut a path through the crowd. There were children and families everywhere on both sides of the street.”

The live TV coverage of the race had finished at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, but he had to circle back for a 2:45 p.m. production meeting. The broadcast crew was to be back on the air at 4 p.m. with updates and interviews featuring the winners and top finishers.

That didn’t happen. Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 18 >>>>>>> The ginormous book of ‘Who’s Jew’ and its influence on baseball

Gabe Kapler speaks to the Taft High School baseball and softball team during a stop at his alma mater on the Dodgers Community Caravan in 2011. (Michael Owen Baker/Daily NewsStaff Photographer)

The book: “American Jews & America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball”

The author: Larry Ruttman

The vital stats: University of Nebraska Press, 500 pages, $34.95

Find it: At Barnes & Noble, Powells, at the author’s blog spot and the publisher’s website

The pitch: Gabe Kapler, the former Taft High of Woodland Hills standout who last played in spring training with the Dodgers a few years ago, has one tattoo on on his right calf with the post-Holocast phrase “Never Again,” and another depicting the Star of David on his left calf with “Strong Willied, Strong Minded” in Hebrew.

Jews, we’re also told, aren’t supposed to have tattoos.

Kapler explains his mother’s roots as director of a Jewish Adat Ari El Day School in North Hollywood, and feeling he is “a Jew ethnically” much more than religiously. His wife, Lisa, whom he met at Taft, was raised Catholic and he calls his family not religious, but “we’re very spiritual.”

Before this turns into a SNL gameshow — Who’s Jewish? Who’s Almost? Who Knew! — or a Adam Sandler novelty song, the project Ruttman pulls together here can be both enlightening and confusing at the same time. With Kapler as an example. Continue reading

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30 baseball books in April ’13: Day 17 >>>>>>>>>>> At last, the Francona Express Way intersects with Red Sox Nation

The book: “Francona: The Red Sox Years”

The author: Terry Francona, with Dan Shaughnessy

The vital stats: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 368 pages, $28

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

The pitch: It’s a whole new set of circumstances with the Boston Red Sox visiting Francona in Cleveland this week. Maybe that’s just how things work out.

It’s already been a strange couple of years for Francona, who went from Red Sox skipper, out of a job, working for Fox on their MLB package, then getting hired by the Indians — a job that opened when John Farrell left to fill the vacancy after Bobby Valentine lasted one year in Boston.

Maybe stranger for Francona is what he writes in his acknowledgement: “If you had told me on September 1, 2011 that (two months later) I would be jobless and writing a book with Dan Shaughnessy, I would have told you as eloquently as only I can do that this would happen as soon as a 200-pound hog jumps out of my ass. It turned out to be not only fun but very healthy for me to look back at the eight years of whirlwind ups and downs.” Continue reading

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Pat Summerall: 1930-2013

Pat Summerall and John Madden welcome CBS viewers to the 1984 NFC wildcard game at Anaheim Stadium.

Pat Summerall, whose classy understated and clutter-free call of a record-16 Super Bowl games for CBS and Fox stamped his career after 10 years playing in the NFL, died Tuesday near Dallas.

He was 82 and suffered cardiac arrest while in the hospital recovering from a broken hip.

“Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years,” said John Madden, teamed with Summerall for 21 seasons starting in 1981.

“We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man. He always had a joke. Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be.”

At the first NFL-AFL Championship game played at the Coliseum on Jan. 15, 1967 — before it was called a Super Bowl — Summerall did the first half in the broadcast booth with Ray Scott, then went to the sidelines for the second half, switching roles with Frank Gifford, who teamed with Jack Whitaker.

Summerall was a colorman in five Super Bowls and on play-by-play for 11 of them, the last three with Fox. Continue reading

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Mike Piazza’s swan song becomes a night at the ballet

Mike Piazza is fitted for his costume by Maria Morales for his role in “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” at the Miami City Ballet, as costume designer Haydee Morales, looks on at left, today in Miami Beach, Fla. Piazza will play a gangster in the ballet on May 3. Piazza says his turn with the troupe is his gift to his 6-year-old daughter, a student at Miami City Ballet School. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By Jennifer Kay
Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH, Florida — Mike Piazza knows that some people think it’s funny for a baseball player to take up ballet, but the former catcher hopes to turn whoever is jeering him now into dance fans when he takes the stage with Miami City Ballet next month.

“You gotta sometimes have the courage to go out there and do something like this, and I think the overall effect will be positive,” Piazza said Tuesday after his costume fitting for the role of a gangster in “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.”

Piazza will walk on stage and say a few lines in the company’s May 3 production of the ballet George Balanchine choreographed as part of the 1930s musical “On Your Toes.” Continue reading

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Who can hang longest in Lancaster to be Mr. 3,000,000?

If you decided to hang out at the Hanger on Thursday — that would be the home base for the Lancaster Jet-Hawks, your Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros — you might be plucked from the crowed to have your arm tested.

To commemorate the 3,000,000th fan to attend a game at the facility since its inaugural season in 1996, the team said it will pick a fan that night against the Bakersfield Blaze to not just throw out the ceremonial first pitch, but also receive $300 to spend at the stadium, a ticket upgrade to the Club Section for that fan and his group, a suite to an upcoming game to accommodate a party of 25, a team-signed bat and ball, a half-inning on the radio with JetHawks broadcaster Jason Schwartz, a half-inning as the guest public address announcer, a replica 2012 Cal League championship ring and a personalized commemorative plaque honoring the milestone.

According to team accountants, the JetHawks are within 1,000 fans of reaching 3 million. Pray for a nice, calm, windless day.

Gates open at 6 p.m. Thursday for the 7 p.m. game. The traditional Thursday night promotion of $2 beers, $2 hot dogs, $2 nachos and $2 soda. For tickets go to the JetHawks’ official site.

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