I also love reading and learning about baseball.I’ve only read about four books on baseball, but the best by far is the long ball, by tom adelman.
When I was a kid, I would play wiffleball or any ball with my brothers and friends. We had our own wiffleball league, and I was always the homerun champ. I’m not sure why, but nobody hit the ball – I know it was just wiffleball – better than I did. I was a pretty good pitcher too. All this was from about 1972 to 1979 as i went from 5th to 11th grade. During those years, I lived in my parent’s basement where there was always that cool but moist summer smell. Even today, when I’m in my own basement, that smell is still there, and it immediately launches me back to the 70’s when I listened to many, many Yankee games on 770 WABC radio in new york. The yankee radio team back then was technically perfect Frank Messer, the emotional Bill White, and the character of Phil Rizzuto. If there is anything that could add to the nostalgia of that time, it’s this book.
Even though I love the Yankees and the red sox made it to the world series that year, it doesn’t take anything away from the fun of that great season. Adelman did a heck of a lot of research to trace the many steps – both on and off the field – that resulted in Cincinnati’s big red machine facing off against a boston club that I must admit I was rooting for, but only because carl Yastrzemski was to the red sox what ray bourque was to the bruins: a well-respected player who deserved a championship trophy. Although bourque moved out of town and eventually hoisted a cup, yaz would never have his day.
Adelman begins well before the season and covers trades and draft picks by the reds and red sox that were the building blocks of the series that year, but the book covers the whole league and not just those teams. Although I know a lot of baseball (not as much as my brother Michael), this book was a great education of the front office doings and back room deals that spawned free agency and other events that made 1975 such a landmark year for the sport. Being just a kid at the time, I was never fully aware of just what brought catfish hunter from the world champion Oakland A’s to the rebuilding Yankees.
in 1988 i passed pete rose in an atlanta hotel lobby and told him that i hoped he rotted in jail. i hate pete rose, mainly because of what he did to ray fosse in that all-star game collision, but I enjoyed reading about why sparky Anderson moved rose from the outfield to third base and opened up a roster spot for a little-known power hitter in george foster. i also learned that rose and fosse were friends before and after that game, and they even had dinner together the night before. I never liked carlton fisk, but it was great to learn the freak situation that allowed the left field television camera to catch his dramatic body language that convinced his fly ball to clear the green monster and force a game seven. i never liked – but always feared – jim rice when he came to bat against my yankees. however, it saddened me when i learned why rice’s bat was kept on the bench most of the 75 season. although curt flood is usually credited with starting free agency, adelman presents a variation on that popular misbelief.If you like baseball even a little bit, the long ball will help you love baseball.
Pros: i loved the chronological approach to the entire season.
Cons: it’s a dumb picture for the cover. why not fisk waving his homerum to drift fair?
The Bottom Line: even if you only like baseball a little bit, you’ll still enjoy this book because it includes the games off the field as well as on.