post

100 Things Rangers Fans Should Know

I was sent a few copies of the book “100 Things Rangers Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die”, and was asked to review them.  Unfortunately, they sat on my desk, and got buried under some piles of miscellaneous crap, and I forgot about them.  Well, today I’m rectifying that, as I wanted to write a quick review of the book.   This book is not so much a fictional (or even non-fictional) narrative.  It’s a collection of Rangers “moments” from all parts of the franchise’s history.

At first, that might not seem like a fun “book”, but it’s quite a blast to read down the list.  Obviously, the more recent events will be fresh in fans’ minds, but as you delve into the book, you’ll find many items in the lists that make you go either “Oh yeah!” or “I remember that!”.   This book is a tour guide down the history that is the Texas Rangers franchise.  It’s also a book that you can savor for awhile, you don’t need to blow through all 100 at once, or even in 2-3 settings.  You can read one, digest it, and then get a totally different flavor when you come back for the next bite.

There’s quite a diverse list of items in the book.  Here’s a few of the subjects the book talks about:

  • Salute Tom Vandergriff Whenever Possible
  • Sit Down A-Rod, closing Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS
  • Johnny Oates: No player will wear number 26 again
  • The 1974 season: First Signs of a Pulse
  • George W. Bush: Leading the Rangers, Texas, & the USA
  • The first Rangers All Star: Toby Harrah
  • The Bobby Valentine Years
  • The 2004 Fighting Showalters
  • Eddie Chiles: A Mad & Memorable Majority Owner
  • The Claw & Antler Craze of 2010
  • The ’94 Rangers finish first, 10 games under .500
  • The Chan Ho Park debacle

That’s just a sample, as you can see, there’s items from every era of Texas Rangers baseball.  There’s many more, the 10 cent beer night event, Jose Canseco pitching and a ball bonking off his head for a home run, several broadcasters, and subscribing to Jamey Newberg’s newsletter.  The book definitely runs the gamut of Rangers history.

By default, some of the early ones touch on the Senators years, but there’s no direct Senators entry.  That’s OK, though – I’d say the overwhelming majority of Rangers fans can’t name anyone who was a Senators only player anyway.

There’s a few other entries besides the “official” 100 in the title of the book.  There’s a few side notes, smaller entries that aren’t numbered that are scattered through the book too, so there’s more than just one hundred.

I really enjoyed wading through this blast down memory lane with the Texas Rangers.  I didn’t see a Rangers game until 1993, and wasn’t really a fan until 1995, so a lot of the earlier memories are things I’m always looking for someone’s personal recollections of, as I didn’t live through them.  This book touches on several of those, and I really enjoyed it for that.  It’s not like a chronological listing of Rangers “events”, this is more personable than that.  That’s a flavor I really enjoyed.

I suggest buying a copy of the book if you’re a Rangers fan – I enjoyed the read.  You can do this by clicking on the cover art above.

Finally, I’m giving away two copies of the book through the generosity of the publisher.  The first two Rangers fans responding to this review and email me will win.  Just one condition.  You have to be in the USA.  I’m not going to ship outside of the USA.  UPDATE: THESE HAVE ALL BEEN CLAIMED.

Here is the formal press release about the book:

[Read more…]

post

Zim: A Baseball Life

by Don Zimmer

Synopsis: For more than half a century, Don Zimmer, baseball’s beloved gerbil, has been the Zelig of the national pastime, the character in the corner of so many interesting pictures. He may have been only–as he likes to remind us throughout Zim: A Baseball Life–a .235 hitter, but he was a .235 hitter who played with Jackie Robinson on the only Brooklyn team to win a World Series. A year later, he was there, on the bench, when Don Larsen threw his perfect game. More than just an original Met, Zim was the first player ever photographed in a Mets uniform. As the Red Sox third-base coach in 1975, it was Zim who waved Carlton Fisk home in the bottom of the 12th to end the greatest World Series game ever played. Three years later, it was Zim, now the Sox manager, who watched in despair as Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent sealed one of the greatest late-season collapses in the annals of the game when Dent’s pennant-winning homer settled into the net atop the Green Monster. Of course, it was Zim who led the Cubs, of all teams, to a rare postseason appearance, and, approaching 70 at the turn of the millennium, it was Zim who added four championship rings to his collection as Joe Torre’s bench coach in the Bronx. [Read more…]

post

Minor Players, Major Dreams

by Brett H. Mandel

Summary:  Former high school ballplayer Brett Mandel yearned to experience a year in the minor leagues, so he convinced the Ogden (Utah) Raptors, about to embark on their maiden season, to let him chronicle that season from the perspective of a uniformed player. They agreed. The resulting saga describes the long bus rides, the bad food, the frustrations, and hopes that are all a part of baseball dreaming with affectionate good humor. The book’s true life, though, steps up in the poignancy with which Mandel draws his teammates, young men destined for the most part to fall short of their great desire. As a player, Mandel went 0 for 5 on the year, proving that the pen, long deemed mightier than the sword, can be mightier than the bat, as well.

Joe’s Remarks: What a wonderful book!  I picked this one up, and it stayed in my stack of books to read for about 6 months.  That was a mistake – I should have read it first.  This is a great book if you’re a fan of baseball, particularly if you’re a fan of minor league baseball.  This tells the story of Brett’s year with the Ogden Raptors in 1994 from the start to the end of the season.  Brett’s writing style is very easy to read.  I tend to do most of my reading before going to bed at night, which usually means I can take several sessions to actually finish a book, as I did with this one.  Most books suffer from when you pick them up again, it’s not that easy to jump right in where you left off.  This one does not have that.  For me, it lent itself great to reading it in chunks.  Brett was on the Raptors for a whole year, and this book is his recollection of the travels, details, and behind the scenes things most people will never hear about.  Check this out – this book has nothing to do with the Texas Rangers, but it’s a great GREAT baseball book!

As an added bonus, I met the author in 1999 when Lynn & I went to Baltimore to see the Rangers play there.  Brett and some friends were coming back from Cooperstown for the HOF induction ceremony, and were in Baltimore to see the Orioles play.  He himself told me about the book, and we had a few moments talking about the Phillies, as we’re both from there.  I wish I would have already read the book at this point, but Brett was a great guy to meet in person, too!

Update Feb 2012: I haven’t read this book in many years, but the memories of it are strong, and the fact that we ran into the author randomly was also pretty fun.  I still have the book, need to check it out again.  As I said above, very enjoyable, even if it has nothing to do with the Rangers.