Joe Black poses for a photo in his Phoenix home office in April 4, 2002, just a month before he died. (AP Photo/Arizona Republic, Jack Kurtz)
The book: “Joe Black: More Than a Dodger” The author: Martha Jo Black and Chuck Schoffner The vital statistics: Academy Chicago Publishers, 376 pages, $27.95 Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnesandnoble.com, at Powells.com
The pitch: At a time when racial integration in baseball was still fresh, you’re not going to forget a name like Joe Black.
His major-league baseball career lasted a modest six seasons, with 30 career wins as a pitcher. But the reality is that it was just one outstanding year that marked his arrival as a player.
A year after the Dodgers purchased him and Jim Gilliam from the Baltimore Negro American League in 1951, Black made the Dodgers’ roster and, as a 28-year-old, won the National League Rookie of the Year after posting a 15-4 record with a 2.15 ERA and 15 saves. Almost all of his 56 games were in relief, as he had a league-best 41 games finished. But because of injuries that October, he was put in a starting role and became the first black pitcher to win a World Series contest – Don Newcombe and Satchel Paige had tried earlier and didn’t do it. Black went the distance in winning Game 1. He lost Game 4 only because the Yankees’ Allie Reynolds threw a four-hit shutout. In Game 7 back at Ebbetts Field, Black was even with Reynolds at 2-2 through five innings but gave up a home run to Mickey Mantle in the sixth, and eventually was tagged with the loss in a 4-2 decision.
Considered to be the Dodgers’ “next Newcombe,” but one who credited much of his success based on how Roy Campanella called the game from behind the plate, Black pitched in the 1953 World Series for the Dodgers as well, and was on the roster for the start of the 1955 season but he only lasted until June when they traded him to Cincinnati. He missed Brooklyn’s only World Series victory celebration.
A torn muscle in his right shoulder started his injury decline and ended his last comeback try in 1957 with the Washington Senators. It meant that Black needed a life after baseball. He found one as a father and businessman. To put his life story into some context, his youngest daughter, Martha Jo, decided she would be the one to provide it, with the encouragement of Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and a forward written by former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.
Black, an executive with Greyhound and living in Phoenix, and five-year-old Martha Jo were at a turning point in both their lives in 1972, put in the middle of a bitter divorce case. Martha Jo told the judge she wanted to live with her father “because my dad played with me all the time. He talked to me. He joked around with me. It didn’t have anything to do with what he could buy me. He just spent so much time with me … So when the judge asked me who I wanted to live with, the answer was easy.” Continue reading →
The pitch: I look around this home office space and wonder: How did I end up with all this stuff?
It can’t be worth more in the open market than it is to my own psyche.
Now, I’m comfortably sure of that assessment.
Until this point, I had only curious checks of eBay.com to see what the dollar value might be on some of the things I’ve collected over the years but was considering parting with because of space, lack of fondness, or the desire to maybe “trade up” – getting rid of a few things so I’d have the means to buy something I “really needed” instead.
I’ve had enough discussions with Sports Museum of Los Angeles curator Gary Cypres to know I’m no where near his league as a buyer/collector/investor/historian.
(BTW, the Museum is expected to reopen this month … details to come).
To date, I hadn’t really thought about the benefits of having something like this baseball memorabilia guide until I came across it in a Google search.
The Pickers brand specializes in all kinds of needs for the “hobbyist,” from signs, bottles and other antiques. The “pocket” guide implies you can carry it around with you at some flea market and refer to is when you need some price range. But it really doesn’t work that way.
It’s far more general than specific to our needs, but Figler, who lives in Poway and set up his own “museum” while hosting radio shows about sports collectables, does give everyone a reality check in the opening chapters here. Continue reading →
INDYCAR SERIES: 41st GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH Details/TV: Start at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, Sunday at 1:30 p.m., NBCSN: Remember how chippy things got a year ago? James Hinchcliffe was upset with his own Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Will Power tried to apologize to Simon Pagenaud, but he wouldn’t have any part of it. Scott Dixon infuriated Justin Wilson. And there was Mike Conway, who started 17th in the 23-car field and overcame an early broken wing to win the whole thing for the second time in four years. The Brit chased Dixon over the final few laps, then got the lead when Dixon stopped for fuel two laps to go. Conway then held off Power to win by 0.9005 seconds. “Second would have been good,” said Conway, “but this is awesome.” Hunter-Reay, who started on the pole and led for 51 laps, triggered a seven-car accident just 24 laps from the finish (see video above), one that Conway, a road- and street-course specialist, managed to avoid. Hunter-Reay was trying to pull around a slower Josef Newgarden on Turn 4 when the two collided. Hinchcliffe then ran into Newgarden. “At the end of the day, patience is a virtue and someone wasn’t very virtuous day, it was a rookie move,” said Hinchcliffe, who suffered a sprained left thumb. Said Hunter-Reay: “A lot of people say it’s my fault. I made the decision at that split second when he had some wheel spin to go for it, that’s the type of driver I am. I go for it.” Dixon took over at that point until he ran out of gas. He also made contact with Wilson, who accused Dixon of being “deliberate and blatant.” Pagenaud was furious with Power for making contact with him, saying: “I think we had a car to win and he pretty much ruined our race. We were friends until now. We won’t be going on vacation together, I guess.” Back in Long Beach for the third stop of this IndyCar Series season with five weeks to go for the Indianapolis 500, let’s see how many friendships are actually renewed.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
The Clippers have two more games — Monday vs. Denver at Staples Center (7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) and Tuesday at Phoenix (7:30 p.m., TNT) — to determine whether they can actually take the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference before the playoffs begin on Saturday … The Lakers finish off trying to avoid a 60-loss season with a home-and-home against Sacramento (Monday on the road, 7 p.m., and Wednesday at home, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … The Dodgers have Seattle in town for the annual Jackie Robinson Day/MLB Civil Rights Game on Wednesday (7 p.m., SportsNet L.A.) … The U.S. national men’s team faces Mexico at the Alamodome in San Antonio (Wednesday, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1) … And even if the Kings are disinterested in defending their Stanley Cup title, the Ducks go into the NHL playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed and start against Winnipeg on Thursday (Honda Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket). More at this link.
The knuckleball grip of Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Ciotti. The 1913 photo by famed photographer Charles Conlon on a glass plate negative was published in The Sporting News.
The book: “Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch” The author: Lew Freedman The vital statistics: Sports Publishing/Skyhorse, 310 pages, $24.99 Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnesandnoble.com, at Powells.com
The pitch: Two knuckleball-related stories that are fresh in our knuckleheads:
One: A Bob Uecker quote: “The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and pick it up.”
Two: In 2013, former major league infielder and LSU quarterback Josh Booty beat out a group that included his brother, former USC quarterback John David Booty, as well as Doug Flutie, and won an MLB Network reality show called “The Next Knuckler.” With it came a spring training invite to the Arizona Diamondbacks spring camp. The elder Booty didn’t pan out.
While neither that Ueck quote nor the updated yarn is even broached in this book by Freedman, a former Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer, inquiring minds may want to know: Why not?
Meaning, if what little we know already about the story of the pitch can be found in somewhat greater detail on Wikipedia, we’re kind of wondering what else we’re supposed to learn by this, which simply reads like an elongated newspaper story. Continue reading →
In 2008, author Benjamin Wiker put a book together called “10 Books That Screwed Up The World,” a list that, if updated, would not have included any of the 10 baseball books that we found so far in 2015 to be placed among his choices of Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Darwin’s “Descent of Man,” Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” or Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.”
Although Bouton’s “Ball Four” may have covered all those topics in 1970.
With 10 books down, the final 20 spots for the baseball book review series of 2015 is becoming more difficult to decide on what to include and what to cut.
Looks like a survival of the fittest situation.
For those late to the literary party: Day 1: “Tommy Lasorda: My Way” by Colin Gunderson Day 2: “Out At Home: The True Story of Glenn Burke, Baseball’s First Openly Gay Player” by Glenn Burke with Erik Sherman Day 3: “Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder” by Steven K. Wagner Day 4: “The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cusine” by Bennett Jacobstein Day 5: “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out: Second Edition” by Josh Pahigian Day 6: “100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball” by the staff of “Who’s Who in Baseball” and Douglas B. Lyons Day 7: “The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life” by Mike Matheny, with Jerry B. Jenkins Day 8: “Bats, Balls, and Hollywood Stars: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Baseball” by Joe Siegman Day 9: “A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball” by Jennifer Ring Day 10: “The Hidden Game of Baseball: A New Edition of the Baseball Classic that Ignited the Sabermetric Revolution” by John Thorn and Pete Palmer
What we have planned to hit on for the next 20 days includes:
== “Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch” by Lew Freedman
== “Picker’s Pocket Guide – Baseball Memorabilia: How to Pick Antiques Like a Pro” by Jeff Figler
== “Joe Black: More Than a Dodger” by Martha Jo Black and Chuck Schoffner
== “Gil Hodges: A Hall of Fame Life” by Mort Zachter
== “I Am Jackie Robinson,” from the series “Ordinary People Change the World” by Brad Meltzer
== “The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII” by John Klima
== ” In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball” by Mark L. Armour and Dan Levitt
== “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles” by Ed and Christopher Lucas
== “A History of Baseball in 100 Objects” by Josh Leventhal
== “Throw Like A Woman,” by Susan Petrone
== “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” by Bill Pennington
== “Marvin Miller, Baseball Revolutionary” by Robert F. Burk
== “The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes” by Gary Cieradkowski