It’s holiday time, and the days of searching for the perfect gift for that special person is upon us.
There are millions of choices, but for any baseball fan, a great new book produced by the National Baseball Hall of Fame makes a perfect choice: “Baseball Memories & Dreams; Reflections on the National Pastime from the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
For the past couple of decades, the Hall of Fame has been issuing a bimonthly magazine titled Memories & Dreams that has been featuring some of the most fascinating stories regarding the history of the game, its members and other illustrious characters, and all aspects of baseball, from memorabilia to memorable moments.
And now the Hall has produced a compilation of some of its most memorable features, a “greatest hits” if you will, featuring some of the most legendary baseball scribes of their time, and even recollections by the Hall of Famers themselves.
The hardcover book (332 pages, $29.95), with dozens of color and black & white photos to supplement their stories, includes over 60 articles that are quick and easy reads, but guaranteed to invoke special memories from baseball’s past.
Some of the baseball scribes and historians featured include: Peter Gammons, Claire Smith, Tim Kurkjian, Wayne Coffey, Paul Dickson, John Grisham, George Vecsey, Tyler Kepner, Dan Shaughnessy, Hal Bodley, Terence Moore, Danny Torres, and David Moriah.
Hall of Famers who contribute their remembrances include: Johnny Bench, Joe Torre, Trevor Hoffman, Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio, Wade Boggs, and Ichiro Suzuki. Ozzie Smith authors the foreward.
Unique baseball subjects include the story behind the legendary “Casey at the Bat” poem, Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First” routine, how the creation of television contributed to baseball’s popularity, the highly sought Honus Wagner baseball card from 1909, how baseball survived the Civil War, when FDR green-lighted baseball being played throughout World War II, and how Johnny Evers of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” fame served his country during WWI teaching soldiers how to toss grenades headed to the front lines in France. And of course, he also taught French soldiers how to play baseball. (Guess those lessons didn’t stick, Johnny. They’re still playing basketball and soccer over there, but not much baseball.)
Legends of the game featured include: Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Derek Jeter, Alan Trammell, Pedro Martinez, Christy Mathewson, Satchel Paige, Ted Williams, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Martin Dihigo, Roy Campanella, Cal, Ripken, Jr., and Ken Griffey, Jr.
Special moments and eras with focus features include: the women’s league AAGPBL, the Negro Leagues, the only woman with a plaque on the wall in Cooperstown – Effa Manley, the Miracle Mets of 1969, the day the Pirates fielded the first all-Black lineup, the 16-inning showdown pitching duel between Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal in 1963, and broadcasting lessons from a lifetime in the booth by Ford Frick Award winner Bob Wolff.
As is now obvious, there’s a lot to absorb here, a great book for any baseball fan. If there’s one minor complaint, it would have been nice to supplement the articles with more photos and illustrations, as the Hall obviously has access to millions of images, but other than that, this book is an all-time must have.
Enjoy it. Have a great holiday and a safe and healthy 2023, everyone.