Day 12: 30 baseball books in April, 2014 — Sometimes, it’s like talking to a wall with Puig

9781600789281

  • The book: “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Los Angeles Dodgers Dugout, Locker Room and Press Box”
  • The author: Houston Mitchell, forward by Ross Porter
  • Vital stats: Triumph Books (paperback), 192 pages, $14.95
  • Find it: From the publisher’s website, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at Amazon.com.
  • The pitch: Don’t be dazzled or confused by the cover shot of Yasiel Puig, who really hasn’t made much history with the 50-year-plus existence of the franchise in L.A. but has become its most sell-able commodity — in this case, hoping to catch the eye of a potential book buyer. For the record, the only thing about Puig inside here is the last item of the second-to-last chapter, and there really isn’t all that much talked about.
    The publisher has used this “If These Walls Could Talk” marketing technique to put out a series of quick-read history books covering other MLB, NFL and college football programs. You might think that since this Dodgers version comes so close to the same publisher’s release of “100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Jon Weisman, there might be a bit of re-purposing the same material. After all, you really can’t do an L.A. Dodger history/fact book without a lot of cross referencing, and Mitchell, an assistant sports editor at the Los Angeles Times, makes note of Weisman’s book as one of his sources.
    But we’ve found enough fresh material to allow them to co-exist.

    A handcolored image of the black-and-white photograph taken by xxxxx in 1972.

    A handcolored image of the black-and-white photograph taken by Jim Roark on April 25, 1976 available on Ebay.com.

    There’s a little more room here to stretch out an event and frame it in a way that keeps it worth a revisit. Take the account of the Rick Monday saving-the-flag moment in Chapter 3, for example. Not only does Monday tell his version, but there’s also one from a fan named Ozzie Barrero — who happens to be included in the background of that famous photograph taken by the Herald-Examiner’s James Roark.
    “When Monday began his full-speed sprint to save the flag, I had this bizarre feeling of being half a stride ahead of him and knowing that he was about to complete an incredible brave and unselfish act,” says Barrero. “From my vantage point, I felt I was watching a surreal, one-act play from backstage.”
    mlnLRknLsmLlQ8KCxs3QJTgThere’s another bold play in calling the Sept. 11, 1983 contest between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves “the greatest game in Dodger Stadium history.” Those without much context might not even know so much about that whole R.J. Reynolds squeeze bunt, but there again is the perspective of Barrero: “Many of the fans looked up toward the press box where Vin Scully, in the excitement of the moment, was on his feet as well and he had this look of glee on his face that I’ll never forget. I never realized how important it was to him when the Dodgers did well. Scully was giving the thumbs-up sign to everyone and even clenched and pumped his fist a few times as he smiled and connected with the fans.”
    Mitchell says in the intro that he wanted to tell these particular stories again “through the eyes of a Dodger fan” — himself, mostly. “Hopefully, the choices were wise ones.”
    All the right moments are hit upon. Any fan will attest to that.

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