March 3, 2014 by Reader's Connection
I know it may not look like it, but SPRING is at hand! Baseball teams have reported to Arizona and Florida, so Spring Training is underway, at least. And after the winter we’ve had, I’ll take any sign of Spring the universe will throw my way. But, to be honest, this is my favorite sign of Spring. The new season is full of possibilities. There are no wins and, most importantly, there are NO LOSSES. Cactus or Grapefruit refers to which league a team is in for Spring Training. Cactus league is in Arizona, and Grapefruit is in Florida. You can see the history of the leagues (and the stadiums) in the Spring Training Handbook or, for the most up to date information, Spring Training Online.
There are shelves and shelves of baseball books covering everything from the official rules to your favorite teams, players and games. But, the truly beautiful books belong to the stadiums.
America’s Classic Ballparks : A Collection of Images and Memorabilia
This one starts with the (not at all) famous William Cammeyer, who turned his Brooklyn ice rink into a summertime baseball field, and covers a variety of famous parks, ending with the closing of Yankee Stadium in 2008. There are plenty of pictures, trivia, and even some reproductions of programs and tickets from some special games. My favorite factoid from this book (besides the introduction of Mr. Cammeyer) is the fact that the first home run hit in Wrigley field….was by a Cincinnati Reds player Johnny Beall on April 22, 1916. The Cubs would win their first game there on April 26, 1916. Don’t blame the goat.
Fenway Park at 100 (Also known as 100 Years of Fenway Park)
2012 was the 100th anniversary of Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. This book covers the history of the park, of course, but focuses a lot on the modern day history. There are pictures of every aspect of the park, with a variety of famous faces (check out a young looking Ben Affleck on pg. 64) and the park under a variety of conditions (check out the stadium seats covered in ice and snow on pg. 65) If you’re a fan of the Red Sox, or of Boston, this is the book for you.
Pick a ballpark, any ballpark! This book covers the gamut, including our own hometown Victory Field. This is a great book if you’re interested in parks big and small, past and present. In fact, I learned some Indianapolis history from this book. There is a picture of the 1888 Indianapolis Hoosiers (pg. 38) and the index mentions numerous parks where baseball was played around the city. Athletic/Tinker Park (Seventh Street and Tennessee Avenue), Bruce Park (23rd and College Avenue) and many more. Unexpected local history in a book of ballparks old and new.
If you have a thing for pinstripes, New York Yankees Then & Now will give you the pictorial history of the Bronx Bombers. Dozens (Hundreds? Thousands?) of books have been written about the Yankees, but with chapters on Historic coaches, Celebrity fans, wives and girlfriends, female fans and, of course Yankee Stadium, you’ll get a great snapshot of what makes the team so famous. Trivia: the book speculates a lot about why the team, officially, adopted the name ‘Yankees’ in 1913. Was it because the crowd used to see ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’? Because ‘Highlanders’ or ‘New York Americans’ weren’t popular with sportswriters? Because the term ‘Yankees’ was already unofficially used to describe the team in the press and popular with the fans? Whatever the reason, the name was officially changed and the rest is history.
It’s only as complete as it’s copyright date, of course, but if you’re looking for a book that details the history of the parks you know and love, this is that book. Beautiful color pictures of the historic stadiums still hosting baseball (Wrigley Field, Fenway Park) to historic parks that were famously upgraded (Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field, or Tiger Stadium to Comerica Park) to brand new facilities. It gives a little history of each club, and interesting changes either in wardrobe, cap style, and famous games. It has a little bit of everything for the general baseball fan.
I appreciate Spring for the end of snow. I love it for the beginning of baseball!
–Selector Robin Bradford