The Real Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Baseball Season

Ron KaplanContributor IJanuary 25, 2011

It’s still winter, so why aren’t we hearing snow-themed songs anymore? “Winter Wonderland” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” among others, are not “holiday” songs, per se, so they’d still be valid.

Just sayin’.

I thought I saw my first “annual” at the bookstore last week, but it was a fantasy publication, so it doesn’t really count. And as much as I enjoy the Athlons, the Street & Smiths (now Sporting News), and the other magazines, they seem somewhat out of touch with today’s online materials.

Still, I enjoy the tactile sensation of flipping actual pages, rather than just clicking a mouse.

Anyway, I'm doing my annual preseason research for the new baseball titles, and a lot of interesting things are coming down the pike.

A brief overview:



New titles considered the 70th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak; the 50th anniversaries of the 1961 Reds and the “launching” of the New York Mets; and the 30th anniversary of pro baseball’s longest game.



Jimmy Breslin writes about Branch Rickey; Maury Allen published one on Dixie Walker last year, so do we need another one so soon? Also, old favorites, current stars, and “flavor of the month” on Albert Pujols, Lenny Dykstra, Ernie Banks, Joe DiMaggio, Shane Victorino, Jim Leyritz, Stan Musial, Hank Greenberg, Bobby Cox, and two about Derek Jeter, plus memoirs by Juan Marichal (plus another on his 16-inning showdown with Warren Spahn), Tim Wakefield, Bill White, and Shawn Green.


The Eclectic

The usual ton of stuff from McFarland and University of Nebraska Press, including the death of Ray Chapman, the lone season of the Israel Baseball League, baseball during the Great Depression, the role of Jews in Black Baseball, and—one of my favorite topics—the accuracy of memory in sports.

There are too many for me to go into detail about each one, but here are the ones I’m especially looking forward to:

  • Flip, Flop, Flyball: An Infographics Baseball Adventure, by Craig Robinson. I really enjoy the British graphic designer’s site and his unique and fun approach to the oddball properties of the game.
  • Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella, by Roy Lanctot. For someone who won three MVP awards, there haven’t been too many books about the Dodger favorite.
  • Branch Rickey, by Jimmy Breslin. The author of Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game, the story of the New York Mets’ early days, returns to baseball with his inimitable style.
  • The New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History, by Matthew Silverman, and Mets Journal: Year by Year and Day by Day with the New York Mets Since 1962, by John Snyder.
  • Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats: How Baseball Outlasted the Great Depression, by David George Surdam.
  • Brit at the Ballpark: An Englishman’s Baseball Tour of All Fifty States, by Peter Taylor.
  • Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, by Rabbi Rebecca Alpert.
  • The Baseball Film in Postwar America, by Ron Briley. This topic combines my two favorite hobbies.
  • The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH, by Shawn Green. Green played on both coasts and in Canada, so he’s got a large fan base who will take notice of this one.
  • Baseball and Memory: Wins, Losses, and Remembrances of Things Past, by Lee Congden.

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