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"Son, I think you know where you can stick that Kindle."

Maybe I'm a bit of a Luddite, but I prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. If you're a fan of the original Star Trek, think Samuel T. Cogley, Attorney at Law. If you don't get that reference, perhaps you were one of those people who frittered away their adolescence going out on dates, playing sports, or what-not.

Anyway, we all have some time to kill until April, and apparently there's only so many re-runs of Prime 9 I can watch before I start climbing the walls. Here's some books that might help to fill the void:

First of all, if you haven't read Generation A's Fans by AN's very own Don Marquez, you should start there. It's a wonderful read, much like Don's contributions to AN. I spent my early childhood in San Leandro, so this book really took on an emotional resonance for me. We're about the same age, but I went to a different elementary school (Grover Cleveland, bulldozed long ago), so we probably never met. That's just as well, because I was a wretched little shit as a kid.

7: The Mickey Mantle Novel by Peter Golenbock

Speaking of kids, here's one they shouldn't read until they're a bit older. I'm no prude, but damn, this book is filthy. Go on Amazon and read some of the reviews; Golenbock really pissed a couple of people off. I loved it. It is touching and profane in roughly equal measure. Spoiler Alert: Mickey got laid an awful lot... who knew?


Strike Zone by Jim Bouton and Eliot Asinof

Jim Bouton is, of course, a former Major League Pitcher and author of Ball Four, also a great piece of work. Asinof wrote Eight Men Out, which is way better than the movie it later spawned. (we'll re-visit the Black Sox scandal a little bit further down the page) Bouton and Asinof trade off first-person chapters: Asinof is a crusty old umpire working his last game, and Bouton's character is essentially Jim Bouton with a different name. This one is a bit tense, with a great story that does not betray its ending. Probably out of print, but worth tracking down.

In the TIME TRAVEL and ALTERNATE HISTORY realm, might I suggest:

If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock

Great piece of time travel lit here. It mostly takes place during the Cincinnati Red Stockings legendary 1869 season. Our protagonist is a newspaper reporter who, recently separated from his wife, has developed a bit of a drinking problem. Will an extended journey into the 19th Century put things into perspective and heal his heart? The baseball passages are extremely well-informed, which made this all the more of a joy to read. There is a sequel, Two In The Field, which quite frankly could have used more baseball. It's worth checking out if you found yourself emotionally invested in Sam's story.

The End Of Baseball by Peter Schilling

Perhaps the best baseball novel I've ever read. Granted, I'm a sucker for the Alternate History. This will appeal to fans of that genre, anybody with a passion for the history of the game, and A's fans in general. Aside from that, I'm gonna dummy up on this one; read this once you finish Don's book. Five stars.

Also worth tracking down: A short story by Bruce McAllister entitled "Southpaw", featuring Fidel Castro and Special Guest Star Desi Arnaz. It appeared in an AH anthology called Roads Not Taken. A quick read, but a good one.

A COUPLE 'BOUT THE BLACK SOX:

Hoopla by Harry Stein

Told from the perspective of Buck Weaver, this novel gives you a feel for just how dysfunctional this team must have been. It's a fictional account, granted, but it really has an authentic ring to it. Probably as close as you would want to get to what must have been a horribly toxic clubhouse environment. I think this is out of print, which is a shame. I loaned my copy to a friend years ago and have since lost track of it.

Blue Ruin by Brendan Boyd

Boyd was one of two people responsible for The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book, so there was no way I was gonna pass this up. If you're a history nerd (like me), this book can be frustrating, as it feels as though Boyd is taking a certain amount of artistic license where facts are concerned. I can't cite specific examples off the top of my head, but you'll see what I mean if you read it. The story is told from the perspective of Sport Sullivan, one of the gamblers who helped to facilitate the fix. I get the impression that Boyd is using Sullivan as a blank canvas to tell the story, and I can't vouch for the accuracy of biographical details. Ah, who cares? It's a good book, absolutely worth reading.

The world is full of great books I haven't read, and many of them are about baseball. I would enjoy hearing suggestions from my fellow ANers, as I am perpetually running low on things to read. I'm slowly wading through a book my roommate lent me by Graham Hancock called Fingerprints of the Gods. It's pretty interesting, but there's no baseball! Once I conquer that tome, I'm gonna need something else. Help a brother out.

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