Posnanski’s Why We Love Baseball Book Tells History Of Grand Old Game
Sport's fans of any age can't go wrong reading Joe Posnanki's latest title - Why We Love Baseball : A History In 50 Moments.
When my copy of Why We Love Baseball arrived, instantly, I had a smile growing from ear to ear. I knew what I was in for, once I cracked open the the book.
Memories. A plethora of baseball memories began rushing through my aging brain to years past, in some cases, decades were being eclipsed of happy memories of reading box scores in the morning edition of The New York Daily News, and when attending Mets and Yankees games at their perspective home stadiums in the 1960s and 1970s.
Why We Love Baseball is the elixir that allows me to be younger again, and remember the simpler, and fun times of listening to Tom Seaver pitching for the Mets, with Lindsey Nelson calling the game on radio, or watching TV as the great Henry Aaron overtakes Babe Ruth's all-time home run record of 714 on a nationally televised game. Posnanski's review of the greatest moments in MLB history makes me want to search for a transistor radio (kids, ask your parents), and hope, while listening late at night, I could still pull in a game from Pittsburgh on KDKA radio.
Among Posnanski's choices as the best of the best in MLB history, he reviews the excitement and significance of Cal Ripken Jr. The surpassing of hall of famer Lou Gehrig's once thought of unbeatable consecutive games played record of 2,130. 56 years after Gehrig retired, Ripken, playing at home in Baltimore, on a September fall night in 1995 became baseball's "Iron Man".
So many other familiar, historical names from the game's past come alive in Why We Love Baseball. Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, and Dennis Eckersley pop out immediately.
Joe Posnanski with Negro League Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick
I found myself wanting to read at a slower pace, when turning all 360 pages of Why We Love Baseball. Each of Posnanski's selections allowed me to drift off to that moment, in that ballpark, in that season, and make a wonderful mental movie of the happening.
What a treat it is to travel back to May 1959, when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Braves are playing each other. Pirates' pitcher Harvey Haddix hurled a 12-inning perfect-game loss. It's the details Posnanski digs out that remind me what is so special about the game.
Another ballplayer Posnanski doesn't let his readers forget, and maybe introduces for the first time to some, is one of my all-time favorites - Phil Niekro. The knuckleball story told on pages 17-22 is one I hadn't heard before. April 2010, Plant City, Florida, and teenage Little Leaguer named Chelsea Baker along with the hall of fame pitcher, the story is so well set up for all to absorb.
You want a story about the great lefty Sandy Koufax, and the perfect game he tossed in 1965 for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Posnanski doesn't forget this great day in baseball.
Another of the 50 Moments I truly enjoy is what Posnanski labels the sound of home runs. Loud home runs, to be exact. I learned a new term - splash hits. This happens when a batter slugs a ball out of Oracle Park in San Francisco, and the ball splashes down into McCovey Cove in the San Francisco Bay. Nearly 100 home runs have reached McCovey Cove. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the first (and second) splash hit out of the ballpark, and into the Bay, was launched by MLB's All-Time Home Run King Barry Bonds. Again, Posnanski's details make this a memorable moment to share with other fans.
Having the good fortune of living in the Cooperstown area for more than four decades, dating back to the mid-1970s, I have come across so many great players. Many hall of famers, too. Players who took bat to ball from the 1920s to the current crop of inductees, I can really relate and appreciate the work that Posnanski put into Why We Love Baseball. I think back to chasing Charlie Gehringer, Burliegh Grimes, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, Johnny Mize, and Jim Hunter to sign balls and cards for me - and being successful in all attempts.
Why We Love Baseball is the next best thing to being in "The Home of Baseball" - Cooperstown, New York. They both preserve my happiest memories of the game of baseball that I so dearly love.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.