I read George Vescey’s Stan Musial: An American Life over the course of several flights last month, and was just wrapping it up when Stan the Man himself passed away. Vescey covers Musial’s career in great depth but also gives plenty of space to his pre- and post-playing life. Musial is beloved in St. Louis but has largely been ignored over time, at least in comparison to the other star players of his era that played in New York. After this book you’ll have a much greater appreciation for Stan the player and Stan the Man.
The late ’40s and early ’50s were undeniably a fascinating time in the history of baseball. The players, the managers, the characters…add in the detailed insights of legendary writer Roger Kahn and you almost feel like you are sitting at Ebbets Field. If you want to get a thorough feel for the game and its place in America after WWII, I recommend both The Boys of Summer (which chronicles Kahn’s time as the beat writer for the Brooklyn Dodgers) and The Era: 1947-1957 (in which Kahn meanders from storyline to storyline about a magical decade of baseball in New York).
My posts were too infrequent in 2012 – got busy with relocating after finishing graduate school. Finally updated site from road trip in April – there are new pages for the minor league parks in Des Moines, Omaha, and Springfield and additional photos on the Miller Park and Kauffman Stadium pages.
For 2013, aiming for a southern California road trip that will include San Diego, L.A., and Anaheim. Also looking to get stops in at San Francisco and Miami during the first half of the baseball season. Maybe get to a few more minor league parks later in the season.
With baseballs in the air in Arizona and Florida, it’s time to look at the schedule and figure out where Yards of Summer will make it this spring. An April road trip will include a return trip to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as well as first trips to three minor league parks – Hammons Field (Springfield, MO); Werner Park (Omaha, NE); and Principal Park (Des Moines, IA).
I’m also planning a few quick trips to other parks in the region, including Fox Cities Stadium (Appleton, WI), Veterans Memorial Stadium (Cedar Rapids, IA), and Coveleski Stadium (South Bend, IN).
Finally, a potential road trip in May could lead to games in Philly, Baltimore, and D.C.
Forever Blue by Michael D’Antonio offers a detailed look, and balanced approach to, the tale of the Brooklyn Dodgers and owner Walter O’Malley. More than just a biography of O’Malley, the book looks at the role of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and all the characters involved with the organization during the 1940s and 1950s. From Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in the Majors to general manager Branch Rickey’s exploits, D’Antonio brings the legends of baseball past to life. A good read in itself, Forever Blue leaves you wanting to learn more about one of baseball’s most storied eras.
Given my likes of baseball and reading, I’ll occasionally recommend a baseball-related book. My first has to be Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure by Craig Robinson. Robinson describes himself as a European who stumbled upon baseball while in the U.S. on business and then fell in love with the game (and going to the ballpark). Part of the book is Robinson’s eloquent description of his journey into baseball fandom, but the majority is “baseball meets Edward Tufte” – it is filled with fascinating and often incredibly detailed graphics about anything and everything baseball. My favorite graph? “Road Jerseys: The Powder Blue Era” in which Robinson shows how the popularity of powder blue jerseys exploded in the 1970s.