Sports Book Reviews

Sports Book Reviews
Outfielder Lenny Dykstra of the Philadelphia Phillies stands on the field during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. (Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images)

“Nailed” by Christopher Frankie (Running Press, $25.00, 288 pages) is as its sub-title notes is all about “the improbable rise and spectacular fall of Lenny Dykstra.” If you are interested in the subject matter—kiss and tell –this is the book for you. The author, who needed a better editor, rambles through page after page of information no would really cares about showing the unlikable former Met, former financier, former con artist in all kinds of duplicitous moments like employing Craigslist job ads to get women to come to him. The former 13th round draft pick had his high moments – All-Star, a hero in the World Series, ownership of an $18-millon mansion, a widely quoted financial savant. This book is not one of them.

Ron Kaplan’s “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die” (University of Nebraska Press, paper, $24.95, 420 pages) is pricey for a paperback; nevertheless, the long time reviewer has outdone himself with this terrific research job. All types of baseball books are represented among the 501 favored by the author. Full disclosure–your faithful scribe is well represented with three of his books Remembering Fenway Park, Remembering Yankee Stadium, and New York City Baseball. Bravo Ron – can’t wait for the next volume on football.

“Bird at the Buzzer” by Jeff Goldberg (University of Nebraska Press, paper, 285 pages) is a through account of one of the legendary games in women’s basketball–UConn-Notre Dame, March 6, 2001.

“How to Make Every Putt” by Dr. Joseph Parent (Gotham, 176 pages) is a slim volume filled with practical and theoretical tips on putting by a guy who knows the score.

From Simon and Schuster comes “Long Shot” by Mike Piazza with Lonnie Wheeler ($27.00, 384 pages). It is standard sports hero fare, a rags to riches story with a lot of “I did this” and “I did that” along the. This tome should especially appeal to fans of the Mets.

“Who’s On Worst” by Filip Bondy (Doubleday, paper) is a likeable volume by the NY Daily News sports columnist. The work is a cavalcade of shouts and screams about some of the worst performers in the history of the national pastime.

“I Never Had It Made” – Jackie Robinson’s autobiography re-issued by Ecco Press (paper, 279 pages, $14.99) in time as collateral reading for the flick “42” is a moving and still relevant take on the man who broke baseball’s color line. The new edition has a classic look and feel to it.

"Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame" (Simon and Schuster, $35.00, 224 pages) features 200 full color images of bats, balls, player’s uniforms, and historic documents. It is a trivia fan's delight showcasing such items as Jackie Robinson's day-by-day sheet from his rookie season, the "Green Light Letter" from FDR that urged that baseball go on as usual during the second world war, spikes worn by "Shoeless Joe" and in full disclosure buttressing your reviewer’s claim in his "Shoeless Joe ad Ragtime Baseball" that Joseph Jefferson Jackson wore shoes - expensive ones and baseball spiked ones, too.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

"The Baseball Instagrams of Brad Mangin" (Cameron & Company, $18.95, 160 pages) is a delightfully designed book that features photographs through the lens of an iPhone in the square format of Instagram. The especially tiny sized tome has very little in the way of words but packs a wallop with a marvelous variety of baseball photos. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

From author Lucas Mann and Pantheon publishers comes “Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere” (336 pages, $26.95). This is a beautifully created and lyrical look at a year in the life of minor-league baseball team and the factory town in Iowa. The story of the 2010 Clinton LumberKings belongs on your sportsbookshelf. It will remain on mine. NOTABLE

A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 41 sports books including the classics: “New York City Baseball 1947-1957,” “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,” “Remembering Yankee Stadium” and “Remembering Fenway Park,” his book on the first Super Bowl will be published fall 2014.