A scorecard for the Brooklyn team of the 1890 Players League.
The book: “The Great Baseball Revolt: The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League” The author: Robert B. Ross The vital statistics: Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press, 288 pages, $29.95. Released April 1 Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com. And at the publisher’s website.
The pitch: A bio posted of John Montgomery Ward on the Society for American Baseball Research starts: “No essay-length biography could possibly do full justice to John Montgomery Ward. His life, both on and off the diamond, was entirely too eventful. His playing career was replete with notable achievements.”
One of them: Rallying some disgruntled members of the National League to form the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players and become the very first to challenge the reserve clause.
And then see it last only a year, unable to achieve what it really set out to do – break the monopoly of what was the top tier of pro baseball at the time.
This curious research project by Ross, a professor of global cultural studies in Pittsburgh, may not be the most engaging read but it’s an important one to understand how labor relations and player revolts aren’t just a product of the 1960s, ‘70s or, in the case of the wiped out 1994 World Series, something that feels like it happened just yesterday.
The National League had eight teams in 1890, including the champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms who eventually became the Dodgers. The new eight-team Players League that sprung up after Ward led the charge in bolting from the New York Giants also had a team in Brooklyn called the Ward’s Wonders – yes, after Ward, the former star pitcher who became a shortstop.
Did the league serve its purpose? Hardly.
The book: “Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials” The authors: Louis H. Schiff and Robert M. Jarvis The vital statistics: Carolina Academic Press; 1,040 pages, $120 (Released Dec. 30, 2015) Find it: At Amazon.com, at the publishers website
The pitch: Just when we think our brain is too nuanced to handle anything so esoteric and excessive, we have a new elephant-sized project in the room.
Easily the first book in our review series to exceed 1,000 pages and $100 (and a good four pounds to boot), it’s worth bringing it in and holding it up for several reasons.
(And not just its flashy cover.)
One, co-author Schiff thought he would challenge me to read this. Make that, the Honorable Schiff, a county court judge for the last 20 years in the 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida. He’s also an adjunct professor of law at the Mitchell/Hamline School of Law.
His partner in crime, Jarvis, is a law professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law.
I couldn’t argue with their plea.
But not to go all Tom Lawless here, there was no possible way to get through all this without a civil suit, directly at Schiff and Jarvis, for traumatic frontal lobe trauma. I hesitated even asking the publisher to send it for fear of the postal service worker having a hernia. Besides, the text was accessible on an online platform to peruse 110 principle readings, 619 notes and 26 photographs of all the key jurisprudence that has gone through the game. Continue reading →
The NBA schedule for the final night of the regular season. Note the prices of tickets for the Lakers-Jazz game.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: NBA: LAKERS vs. UTAH Details/TV: At Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN2, TWCSN
A fan holds a sign for Kobe Bryant during the Lakers’ last game of this season in Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a guest recently on the “Mason and Ireland” KSPN-AM (710) show, was asked if he would be in attendance for Kobe Bryant’s last game. Silver said he doubted it would happen since he had to be at an owners meeting in New York the next day. But, honestly, he added: “I can’t afford a ticket to it anyway.”
It’s what’s on the inside that counts here. Least expensive entry pass on the secondary market these days is in the $800 range. If you want a sniff of a court-side chair, it could go to $25,000. Or, you could just settle in and take all that Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game has to offer from a TV screen near you. Make it a mid-week party, like an MMA fight. Except don’t forget the violins.
The Jazz aren’t about to play Bryant out with some simple Sinatra tune. On the final night of the regular season, it is trying (for some reason) to secure the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs and a first-round meeting with Golden State. Utah has also defeated the Lakers somehow by an average of 29 points in three games this season, including a 48-point win last time out.
Yeah, the Jazz.
Before this happens, however, there’s one more in Oklahoma City on Monday (5 p.m., TWCSN).
ALSO THIS WEEK:
The Dodgers get around to their home opener against Arizona (Tuesday, 1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA) and then a weekend series against San Francisco that marks Jackie Robinson Day (Friday, 7 p.m.) … The 42nd Grand Prix of Long Beach IndyCar race (Sunday, 1:30 p.m., NBCSN) has Scott Dixon as its defending champion … The Kings begin the Stanley Cup playofffs, while the Clippers do as well for the NBA playoffs, and both have Staples Center home-court advantage … More at this link.
The book: “Hometown Heroes: The Single Franchise Baseball Stars of the 20th Century” The author: Clay Sigg The vital statistics: NewType Publishing, 380 pages, $59.95 (Will be released May 17) Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com
The pitch: Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese were the most obvious who did it with the Dodgers. But then, so did Mike Scioscia, Bill Russell, Junior Gilliam, Carl Furillo and Carl Erskine. Even Otto Miller and Nap Rucker.
In Angels’ franchise history, there was only two: Tim Salmon and Gary DiSarcina.
The Yankees had 27 of them — and all likely have a number retired, a plaque erected and a candy bar named after them.
Of the more than 18,000 who have put on a major-league uniform, just 177 by the author Sigg’s count have spent their entire career with just one team or franchise (a career that runs nine years or more).
Counts may differ depending on the variables – a Wikipedia.com list says there are 167 of them with 10 or more years through 2015. (Which would give the Angels’ one more: reliever Scot Shields, whose entire 10 year career was in the 21st Century).
The reliable Baseball-Reference.com is a tough one to create a filter that produces a list.
In 2010, the Elias Sports Bureau made note of 62 players who had 15 or more years with just one organization (with more than half in the Hall of Fame, and four others who eventually reached that criteria).
Then again, someone with the Society for American Baseball Research did a list of trying to find those who spent the longest time with one team. It didn’t include Bill Russell’s 18 years with the Dodgers, which stands as the franchise record, two more than Pee Wee Reese, who missed a couple years in war duty).
Siggs, a Granite Bay, Calif., member of SABR, took this project on as well the self-published book that came with it. Continue reading →
The Dodgers had their own celebrity fans. Charlie O. Finley had Rock Hudson.
The book: “Finley Ball: How Two Baseball Outsiders Turned the Oakland A’s into a Dynasty and Changed the Game Forever” The author: Nancy Finley The vital statistics: Regnery History, 354 pages, $27.99 Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website.
The pitch: The publisher of this book prides itself on its titles that relate to the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, American politics and overseas espionage. Regnery History “brings new light to old subjects and introduces stories that deserve attention, but may have been ignored or even covered up in the past … to celebrate unsung heroes, bust myths, and bring out the story behind the conventional wisdom.”
So, sure, this one about Charles O. Finley fits here just fine.
Finley was often at war with the baseball establishment. He never felt the media really understood what he was doing. He was definitely against conventional wisdom.
So through the voice of his cousin’s daughter – Nancy, who used to refer to him as “Uncle Charlie, where there in the middle of most of his baseball life comes this version of Finley that, despite the title, may not have changed the game forever, but certainly had its colorful impact.
Nancy Finley’s father, Carl, was a high school principal in Dallas who was often summoned for advice by his cousin, Charles, who lived in Chicago and sold medical insurance.
Before they both figured things out, Charlie bought the Philadelphia Athletics, moved them to Kansas City (at a time when they could have moved to L.A. in the late ’50s), then pushed them through to Oakland before winning three World Series from 1972-74, the last one against the Dodgers. Continue reading →