Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Reading is Fundamental – Baseball Edition

With the end of the All-Star break, the Tribe is ready to embark on the second-half of what could feel like a never-ending season. With that in mind, it’s time for some more book recommendations.

There are plenty of great (or very good) sports books out there for Cleveland fans, specifically, and sports fans in general. These baseball books are worth checking out; most should be familiar to Cleveland fans, some may not be. Some may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time*:

  • Endless Summers: The Fall and Rise of the Cleveland Indians by Jack Torry. This book “takes the reader into the executive suites, lakeshore apartments and political backrooms where the men with money and clout made the decisions that transformed the Indians from World Series contenders in 1954 to pathetic losers for four decades.”
  • Our Tribe by Terry Pluto. “By reliving the stories of Lou Sockalexis, Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Rocky Colavito, Bill Veeck, Lou Boudreau, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and countless others, Terry Pluto relives the stories of his childhood and of his father’s childhood when the Indians were the only thing that mattered.”
  • The Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a Thirty-Year Slump by Terry Pluto. “With the sharp-edged wit and keen eye for detail that have made him Cleveland’s favorite sportswriter, Terry Pluto looks at the strange goings-on of the thirty-plus years following the Indians trade of Rocky Colavito. Pluto draws insightful portraits of the men who’ve made the Indians what they were, for better or worse.”
  • Now I Can Die in Peace by Bill Simmons. OK, I know, it’s about the Red Sox but stick with me here. In his columns, with additional footnotes, Simmons captures the joy of finally seeing his favorite baseball team win a World Series. It’s an easy read and a primer for Cleveland fans on what it will be like when one of our teams finally wins.
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton. Tame by today’s standards, but this book, one of the first baseball books I ever read, helped “shatter the myth of baseball players as heroes when it was published in 1970. Besides changing the public image of athletes, this book played a role in the economic revolution in professional sports. In 1975, it was accepted as legal evidence against the owners at the arbitration hearing which led to free agency in baseball. It also stands as a time capsule of life in the ’60s.”
  • Dealing: The Cleveland Indians’ New Ballgame by Terry Pluto. “Go behind closed doors in the Cleveland Indians front office as Pluto analyzes the team’s controversial moves to scrap a roster of popular stars and rebuild a new kind of contender following the 2000 season. Faced with an aging team, a mounting payroll and a shrinking budget, owners Larry and Paul Dolan and general manager Mark Shapiro worked to rebuild the team, closing out the 2005 season just one game shy of a playoff birth.” That was only five years ago; it feels like 50.
  • Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss. “The Roberto Clemente that Maraniss evokes was an idiosyncratic character who, unlike so many modern athletes, insisted that his responsibilities extended beyond the baseball field. In his final years, his motto was that if you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth.” This is an example of the new wave of sports biographies that take an honest look at athletes; not hatchet jobs, but just stories that show the true person, in both their triumphs and failures.

If you do decide to check one of these out, you won’t be disappointed. And remember to shop at your local bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area and are in the Hudson area, it’s worth a stop at The Learned Owl.

*Summaries are all taken from the individual book jackets.

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