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Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legendby Gerald C. Wood
Synopses & Reviews
WINNER OF THE 2014 SEYMOUR MEDAL sponsored by the Society for American Baseball Research; Finalist for 2014 SABR Larry Ritter Award
Though his pitching career lasted only a few seasons, Howard Ellsworth and#8220;Smoky Joeand#8221; Wood was one of the most dominating figures in baseball historyand#8212;a man many consider the best baseball player who is not in the Hall of Fame. About his fastball, Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson once said: and#8220;Listen, mister, no man alive can throw harder than Smoky Joe Wood.and#8221;and#160;
Smoky Joe Wood chronicles the singular life befitting such a baseball legend. Wood got his start impersonating a female on the National Bloomer Girls team. A natural athlete, he pitched for the Boston Red Sox at eighteen, won twenty-one games and threw a no-hitter at twenty-one, and had a 34-5 record plus three wins in the 1912 World Series, for a 1.91 ERA, when he was just twenty-two. Then in 1913 Wood suffered devastating injuries to his right hand and shoulder that forced him to pitch in pain for two more years. After sitting out the 1916 season, he came back as a converted outfielder and played another five years for the Cleveland Indians before retiring to coach the Yale University baseball team.
With details culled from interviews and family archives, this biography, the first of this rugged player of the Deadball Era, brings to life one of the genuine characters of baseball history.
Berra, Rizzuto, Lasorda, Torre, Conigliaro, Santo, Piazza. Casual baseball fansand#8212;in fact, even many nonfansand#8212;know these names, not as Italian Americans, but as some of the most colorful figures in Major League Baseball. Ever since future Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri became a key part of the Yankeesand#8217; Murderersand#8217; Row lineup of 1926, Italian Americans have been among the most prominent and intriguing players in the game. The first comprehensive study of the topic, Beyond DiMaggio is also a social history of baseball, tracing the evolution of American perceptions toward those of Italian descent as it chronicles the baseball exploits that influenced those perceptions.
Lawrence Baldassaro tells the stories of Italian Americansand#8217; contributions to the game, from Joe DiMaggio, who transcended his ethnic identity to become an American icon, to A. Bartlett Giamatti, who served as commissioner of baseball, to Mike Piazza, considered the greatest hitting catcher ever. Baldassaro conducted more than fifty interviews with players, coaches, managers, and executivesand#8212;some with careers dating back to the thirtiesand#8212;in order to put all these figures and their stories into the historical context of baseball, Italian Americans, and, finally, the culture of American sports.
From the sandlots of San Francisco to the power centers of baseball, this book tells the story of Joe Cronin, one of twentieth-century baseballand#8217;s major players, both on the field and off.
For most of his playing career, Cronin (1906and#8211;84) was the best shortstop in baseball. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956, he was a manager by the age of twenty-six and a general manager at forty-one. He was the youngest player-manager ever to play in the World Series, and he managed the Red Sox longer than any other man in history. As president of the American League, he oversaw two expansions, four franchise shifts, and the revolutionary and controversial introduction of the designated-hitter rule, which he wrote himself.
This book follows Cronin from his humble beginnings to his position as one of the most powerful figures in baseball. Mark Armour explores Croninand#8217;s time as a player as well as his role in some of the gameand#8217;s fiercest controversies, from the creation of the All-Star Game to the issue of integration. Bringing to life one of baseballand#8217;s definitive characters, this book supplies a crucial and fascinating chapter in the history of Americaand#8217;s pastime.
About the Author
Gerald C. Wood is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Carson-Newman University and coeditor of Northsiders: Essays on the History and Culture of the Chicago Cubs.
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