30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 30: To Infinite Cards and beyond for the radical Cieradkowski

7_LEAGUE OF OUTSIDER BASEBALL-9_zpswp5xkyr9The book: “The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes”
The author: Gary Cieradkowski
The illustrator: Gary Cieradkowski
The vital statistics: Touchstone/Simon & Shuster, 233 pages, $25
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

USE 81EDul0d+tLThe pitch: There’s nothing quite like seeing a creation by Gary Cierad-
kowski (pro-
nounced Sir-Ad-
KOW-Ski).
For those of us who have known his distinctive art work on the Infinite Card set blog since 2010, a detour from his amazing graphic arts company once located in Long Beach, and then maybe saw his  magazine called “21: Illustrated Journal of Outsider Baseball,” the arrival of this book is Opening Day all over again.
We have, in fact, saved it as the best for last in this annual series.
USE2 810+oKf1zQLCredit MLB historian John Thorn for nailing it as far as what Cierad-
kowski’s art most resembles – he says it reminds him of the “poster kings of yore – Edward Penfield, J.C. Leyendecker, Fred G. Cooper.”
Can you picture that? Google it instead.
The story behind how Cieradkowski even set out to design these cards, shaped like the old vertical tobacco  inserts that frame this mental journey even more profoundly, and now having these stories attached to them, can be traced back to the 1970s. Growing up a Mets fan, he got into frequent baseball history discussions with his late father, a Brooklyn Dodgers die-hard devotee. They took a page from historian Scott Simkus and became immersed in those who were on the fringe – Negro Leaguers, town team players, players stuck in the low minors, those overseas who became legends.
And even the guys who couldn’t handle the pressure.
Those who have been part of his blogging resume over the years have finally gotten on the same page. Or, at least within the same covers. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 29: By George, now the literary world’s most famous Scout since “To Kill A Mockingbird”

The eyes have it: George Genovese was honored as the first lifetime recipient of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation award, which is named after him.

The eyes have it: George Genovese was honored as the first lifetime recipient of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation award, which is named after him.

The book: “A Scout’s Report: My 70 Years in Baseball”
The author: George Genovese, with Dan Taylor
The vital statistics: MacFarland books, 244 pages, $29.95
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

71G1BDMiyVLThe pitch: Many of the players who George Genovese mentored, coached, developed and eventually signed after they were drafted during his career as one of the most prolific baseball scouts in the game’s history, you may already know.
Most of the bigger names were during Genovese’s 31-year-run with the San Francisco Giants, as guardian of the Southern California territory that essentially meant he had to do some convincing to them and their parents that the Dodgers’ hated rivals wanted them more.
It wasn’t even dumb luck when Genovese lost out to a local kid who wanted to stay home. The famous story about the pre-draft 1964 time when everyone was after L.A. Fremont High star Willie Crawford, and then Dodgers scout Tommy Lasorda (who took the time to write this book’s forward) eventually got him after giving a 15-minute eulogy at the funeral of Crawford’s grandfather, which endeared himself to the family. Genovese’s runner-up prize was recommending that his organization take a kid from Riverside Poly High named Bobby Bonds.

George Genovese, right, watching Dave Kingman sign with the Giants out of USC in 1970.

George Genovese, right, watching Dave Kingman sign with the Giants out of USC in 1970.

From there, it was as if Genovese was picking fruit off the Dodgers’ trees — George Foster (Leuzinger in Lawndale), Gary Matthews (San Fernando), Garry Maddox (San Pedro), Chili Davis (L.A. Dorsey), Jack Clark (Gladstone in Covina), Dave Kingman (USC), Matt Williams (Carson City, Nev./UNLV), Randy Moffett (Long Beach), Royce Clayton (St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey), Jim Barr (Lynwood) …
All Genovese signees, and most all of them, Dodgers tormentors.
As the Dodgers and Giants finish a three-game series tonight, we must tip our cap, again, in tribute to how much the North Hollywood-based scout has contributed to both franchises. He remains, at age 93, a Dodgers’ part-time scout who, to date, has been responsible for inking  about 250 players, with nearly 40 of them making the big leagues with some levels of success.
But the ones he couldn’t convince his bosses to believe were the real deal? That’s where this autobiography takes its most sinister turn.
After all, at this point, what does he have to lose?
When the Giants’ new ownership in the late ’80s stopped listening to him, and the Dodgers picked him up in 1995 to help train scouts and consult on trades, Genovese right off the bat doesn’t dance around that fact that it continues to nag at him that he didn’t have the juice to convince Dodgers’ scouting director Logan White to step up eight years ago and believe that this outfielder from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High named Mike Stanton had the tools and was worth locking up. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 28: Surely, you can see the point Ed Lucas is making here

Ed Lucas, left, with Derek Jeter, a photo to accompany a story Lucas did on the retiring Yankees star for the Jersey Journal (http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/07/lucas_6.html)

Ed Lucas, left, with Derek Jeter, a photo to accompany a story Lucas did on the retiring Yankees star (and the publisher of his book) for The Jersey Journal.

The book: “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles”
The author: By Ed Lucas, with his son, Christopher Lucas
The vital statistics: Simon & Shuster/Jeter Publishing, 288 pages, $26.
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnesandnoble.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

81KQ48O1BlLThe pitch: Don Mattingly saw Ed Lucas check his watch, and the Yankees first baseman couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Eddie, how the heck can you tell time with a wrist watch?” Mattingly yelled over to Lucas, who had been in the Yankees locker room doing an interview with Dave Winfield.
“It probably doesn’t even work,” Mattingly continued. “”C’mon, you probably just wear it for show.”
Lucas took the watch off and handed it to Mattingly. But Mattingly couldn’t figure it out.
“He could see the Braille on the inside of the glass,” Lucas writes on page 219 of his autobiography, “but didn’t realize there was a secret button to push to flip the glass up. He spent the next three minutes feeling the face on the watch again and again as several players looked on with curiosity.
Lucas.Mattingly“Finally, he gave up. Mattingly handed the watch back to me and said, ‘Eddie, I don’t know how you do it, pal. You can feel those bumps through the glass and I can’t. That’s amazing.’
“‘Well, Don,’ I replied with a grin, ‘some guys can hit curve balls, some can’t. Some guys can feel Braille through glass, come can’t. We’ve both got our talents.’”
As Lucas left the room with his escort, he turned to Mattingly and called out his name.
“As soon as I had his attention, I held my wrist up, pushed a button and revealed the secret of the watch (the trip that lifted the glass face open so that he could feel the watch’s bumps).
“Other players roared with laughter. I had to run out the door to avoid the barrage of towels the freshly pranked Mattingly good-naturedly tossed in my direction.”
Lucas’ story of not just surviving but actually making a mark as a sightless reporter working for newspapers and the Yankees’ YES Network has come to print in this book as he celebrated his 60th straight Opening Day at Yankee Stadium covering the team. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 27: By our flawed logic, we aren’t ready to read another Billy Martin book, even one as great as this

The book: “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius”
The author: Bill Pennington
The vital statistics: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 530 pages.
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

AAABILLY-MARTIN-coverThe pitch: It’s a flawed premise, expecting us to read and absorb more than 500 pages on the life and times of anybody — particularly someone who really we developed a low opinion for and didn’t think it wise to invest the time in that person now because there was thinking it could change our attitude about him amidst what appears to be another campaign to get him into the Hall of Fame.
But then we read the Marvin Miller book and felt that was time well invested.
We’re struggling with that logic now as we turn the page to Billy Martin.
Let’s get to know him. Again. Even if you haven’t read his previous two autobiographies, or the half dozen books done about him already. It’s time to be enlightened.
Pennington gets that, but he had a new take. It’s 25 years since Martin’s death. He still isn’t Hall material, apparently, and, after interviewing everyone still alive who could talk about him, maybe this will raise the shade again.
Except here, we have our guard up.
No matter how many rave reviews have come out about this heavyweight manager by the former Bergen Record reporter who covered the team, we waited until the very end of this month to even pick it up, putting up a fight against it as if it was a miscast marshmallow salesman.
We skipped around the pages. We tried going back to front. We wrestled even with the expanded press release that came with this copy.
Something doesn’t feel right about celebrating this man. Maybe it because of how we saw how he came across in the Glenn Burke autobiography. And how he reacted in the George Brett Pine Tar Game.
We’ve got no use for Billy Martin.
We picked up on two highlights from our hunt-and-peck attempt to find a serviceable entry point: Continue reading

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Play It Forward April 27-May 3 on your sports calendar: Kimmel vs. Bieber or Pacquiao vs. Mayweather?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
BOXING: MANNY PACQUIAO vs. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
Details/TV: At Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, Saturday at 6 p.m., pay-per-view TV ($99.95 HD):
The New York Post’s George Willis wrote this weekend: “Let’s hope Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao wage an epic battle May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Otherwise, the Fight of the Century could be remembered as the Fiasco of the Century. Right now, it’s headed for the latter, leaving boxing fans feeling gouged, and excluded.” cd_manny-pacquiaoHere’s real fiasco: Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel brought Manny Pacquaio onto his show last Wednesday and floated the idea of letting him part of his ring-walk entourage, insisting that he would sing Pacquiao’s recently-recorded song “Lalaban Ako Para Sa Pilipino” (I Will Fight For the Filipino) while inside the ropes waiting for Pacquaio to enter. And if Pacquaio needed more incentive, Kimmel also said he would fight current Mayweather hanger-on Justin Bieber. It was lovely gesture, made more so by watching Kimmel and Pacquiao actually sang “Lalaban Ako” together before a swooning audience. Maybe it was also done for a strategic, karmatic reason. Since Pacquaio made his U.S. national TV talk-show debut on Kimmel’s show back in 2009, he has appeared nine times. And every time he sang a song in an appearance before a fight, he has won, going back to his KO over defending WBO welterweight champ Miguel Cotto. You don’t think Vegas noticed that coincidence? Some sports books say they have seen more money bet on a Pacquaio (57-5-2, 38 KOs), the lone congressional representative of the Sarangani province, since his Kimmel appearance. Still, Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) continues to remain the controversial favorite, just two wins shy of matching Rocky Marciano’s undefeated record of 49-0. Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach insists that won’t happen. “I can assure you Mayweather’s party will end on May 2 and Marciano’s record will remain just that — the record. And Mayweather will forever be known as ‘Mr. 47 and 1.’” Sounds like the possible title of the next song that Pacquaio and Kimmel can go all duet on.

ALSO THIS WEEK:

There’s heightened anxiety for the Clippers playing Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference quarterfinal series against San Antonio on Tuesday at Staples Center …. Bob Baffert’s American Pharoah and Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund are at the top of the betting board for the 141st Kentucky Derby (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Channel 4) … The NFL Draft has moved to Chicago for its weekend cheer-leading festival, starting with the first round on Thursday (5 p.m., ESPN) …. The Ducks have a date with their former goalie Jonas Hiller and the Calgary Flames as the second round of the NHL playoffs begin … More to read at this link.

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