Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Class is in session: Marty Appel to teach NYU course on Yankees

When 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die came out last year, I had the hopes than in addition to being read just for the sake of reading, it might be incorporated into colleges and high school classes about literature, sports, humanities, etc. I still do and maybe someone out there reading this will think to pass it along to teacher friends and/or others who can make that decision.

With Ira Berkow, center, and Marty Appel at the Yogi Berra Museum.

John Sexton, the outgoing president of New York University (and coauthor of Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, teaches courses on the national pastime. I would have loved to attend one, but they always seemed to be held on days when the newspaper was going to press.

Marty Appel, veteran PR guy for the NY Yankees and many Jewish sports causes, literally wrote the book on the Bronx Bombers. His Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss was the first definitive history of the team in almost 70 years.

Appel will be teaching this one on days when I can go, so maybe I’ll see you there. (By the way, you don’t have to be an NYU student to sign up.)


Appel NYU class

Class is in session: Marty Appel to teach NYU course on Yankees

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest column: Baseball apps for the avid supporter

Keeping inundated with all the breaking news in baseball can be hard going sometimes, especially if you source information from multiple websites. That’s why for efficiency purposes many fans are now relying on custom-built apps to get their daily fix of baseball gossip, results, or just simply general news.

Sifting through a multitude of downloadable baseball apps however is no fun for even the most devoted of fans and is extremely time consuming. That’s why in this post we thought we’d mix it up a little bit from the regular posts regarding books and look at how the world of publishing is evolving through the advent of apps that are ported straight to your mobile devices.

With the publishing industry evolving so rapidly and now relying on digital services to gain revenues instead of hardcover sales, most saw digital eBooks as the first new trend to eclipse the physical product. For a time eBooks were outselling their physical counterpart, with Amazon reputedly selling 306 digital items per second during the spike in sales.

However, as powerful as the publishing trade will always be it has been somewhat blown out the water by the efficiency in which apps bring content to the consumer. Ported directly to mobile platforms, apps have revolutionized the way we receive content. Gaming Realms, the company behind online portal Spin Genie stated that the “mobile Internet is one of the most powerful trends on the Internet landscape.” Just referencing the amount of downloads so far in such a short window is testament to the power of apps. In 2013 alone, Apple made $10 billion from app sales alone.

The potency of apps has never been more powerful and as generations grow up with them readily available, they will become even more prevalent in modern day society. However, for now, and certainly in this post, we will concentrate on the baseball apps we think you should have at the ready to keep abreast of all the breaking news.


theScore is a free app that enables you to customize your own news feed for your favorite team. Set up push notifications to alert you of breaking news and keep track of the starting lineups and latest results.

ESPN Sports Center

This list wouldn’t be complete without ESPN Sports Center. Why? Mainly due to its comprehensive coverage of all the four major sports in America, and if a story is going to break first, it’s usually via ESPN. The app also has some useful social integration features.

CBS Sports Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy baseball has blown up over the last five years with millions of Americans playing it annually. There was even an event in Las Vegas this year at the Cosmopolitan that has a prize pool of $3 million. The prize pool isn’t quite that extravagant, however you will be able to play in leagues against your friends, check live scores, accept trades, and all the usual fantasy related activities. It’s free to download and has a very easily navigable interface. at Bat

Another free app, MLB’s official app helps the user buy tickets, read the latest MLB news, follow their favorite teams and customize their settings. For premium subscribers, it has a host of other audio and visual features on offer such as live streams and exclusive interviews with the players.


* This article was contributed by Thomas Jenkins. Thomas, a self-confessed sports fanatic and a follower of mobile apps. He spends his free time browsing sport-related apps and sharing them with his buddies.

Guest column: Baseball apps for the avid supporter

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back (for the moment)

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place,…”

Haven’t forgotten my peeps. Just been crazy busy with my new book.

Kind of interesting, having had the experience with 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die with it’s bipolarness (high ups when the book was doing well and the interviews were frequent) and lows (zero royalties based, which does not mean the book has stopped selling), what this new project will bring. It’s a different publisher with a different philosophy, but the subject matter — the Maccabiah Games, aka “The Jewish Olympics” — has a niche audience. Just thing for bar and bat mitzvah and Chanukah presents! Perhaps there will be even more opportunities for author events. After all we are the people of the book.

It’s certainly been a challenge. Quite surprised in the lack of “official” record-keeping. One of the interesting aspects of the Maccabiah Games is that it changes so frequently with regard to events. It all depends if there are enough participating athletes. Sometimes there are, sometimes not. So in one “Maccabiyad” you might have Team Handball, but not in the next, then have it again in the one after that.

Another curious encounter is the lack of what I would consider cogent and organized record-keeping. There’s a lot of raw data in the form of spreadsheets, which I’ve been trying to decipher, but if there’s an “official” list of winners, I have yet to encounter it.

While the creative process is fun — you “meet” all kinds of interesting people in the interview process –  I’m looking forward to handing in the manuscript, tinkering with the editing, and leaning back with a tall frosty beverage.

Of course, all this means I haven’t read a baseball book in a long time. There are some interesting things coming down the pike. I’ll be writing about them soon.

Back (for the moment)

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Adult" baseball reading

When I make my regular Amazon searches, I get annoyed at having to wade through a lot of superfluous material. If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they have a mechanism that will allow me to filter out books targeted towards juvenile readers? That would significantly reduce the time I have to waste looking for pertinent material.

Of course, some would say that’s exactly why you can’t filter; Amazon wants you on the site as long as possible.

A while back I was looking up what new baseball titles are coming down the pike (378 on Derek Jeter) I found an awful lot of what in some circles could be classified as “romance novels” while some others are probably just plain erotica (you say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to.)

Herewith a small sampling. Mind you, I’m not looking for books like this; this is what organically pops up during routine searches. I have no idea as to their literary value nor am I even curious. (And just a blanket statement: I haven’t attached the links so you can’t “look inside.”)

Shari Silberglitt48271493

"Adult" baseball reading

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Judging a book by its cover: The Natural

Last month, I heard a  fascinating episode of The Leonard Lopate Show about what we “see” when we read. The guest was Peter Mendelsund, whose primary occupation is that of a book cover designer. You can listen to the segment here:

August was a busy month for Mendelsund. Not only did he publish the aforementioned What We See When We Read, bur also Cover, about the creative process and all the thinking that goes into coming up with the most appropriate book art.

Bernard Malamud’s classic novel of fall and redemption has been around since 1952. Over the decades, it has been wrapped by a number of wildly varying covers. I wonder how the discussions went for some of those designs?

I tried put these covers in guestimated order of publishing (except for the Robert Redford movie tie-in). If anyone has specific information abut the various editions, please let me know.


Just a few observations:

  • Some of the covers are downright dull, leaving me to wonder what the book might be about (in particular the “pinstriped” version with the script font). But the Dell paperback is just the kind of pulp design we’ve come to love from that era, full of sexual tension in a PG-13 manner.

  • I know I’ve seen that drawing of the runner sliding into home plate before, but can’t recall the details.

  • The Yankee on the left of the cover is Ron Blomberg but who are the other two? I’m wondering if that’s Bernie Allen on the right.

  • The book on the left of the middle row strikes me as coming from the late-60s, early-70s, with a kind of psychedelic/horror flavor.

  • The book on the right of the next-to-last row was published in England; the one on the left of the bottom row, Australia.

Judging a book by its cover: The Natural

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy anniversary, Moe Berg does the time go? The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse will celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Bergthe definitive biography of one of game’s true characters –with a program featuring author Nicholas Dawidoff on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.

Dawidoff’s other boosk include, Baseball: A Literary Anthology and The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love and Madness in an American Family. He also published Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football, so the Bergino conversation will include the differences between writing about baseball and football.

Dawidoff, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Fly Swatter, is a contributor to The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone.

Seating is limited so RSVP is strongly suggested. Contact 212-226-7150 or

Happy anniversary, Moe Berg

Friday, August 22, 2014

Baseball best-sellers, Aug. 22

Note: Just like Chuck Lorre’s “vanity cards” at the end of The Big Bang Theory, you should read these list stories to their conclusion; the end is always changing, even though the theme is basically the same, finishing up with a self-promotional message.

On with the show…

Here are the top ten baseball books as per, as of this posting.

Caveat 1: Print editions only (at least for now); because I’m old school.

Caveat 2: Since the rankings are updated every hour, these lists might not longer be 100 percent accurate by the time you read them. But it’ll be close enough for government work.

Caveat 3: Sometimes they’ll try to pull one over on you and include a book within a category that doesn’t belong. I’m using my discretion to eliminate such titles from my list. For example, for some reason a recent listing included Tarnished Heels: How Unethical Actions and Deliberate Deceit at the University of North Carolina Ended the “The Carolina Way”, which, far as I can tell, is not at all about baseball, at least not in the main. For the sake of brevity, I will be omitting the subtitles, which have become ridiculously long in in some cases in recent years, also at my discretion.

  1. Moneyball, byMichael Lewis

  2. The Natural, by Bernard Malamud

  3. The Closer, by Mariano Rivera with Wayne Coffey. ( review)

  4. The Science of Hitting, by Ted Williams

  5. The Mental Game of Baseball, by H.A. Dorfman

  6. Heads-Up Baseball: Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time, by Ken Ravizza and Tom Hanson

  7. Where Nobody Knows Your Name, by John Feinstein ( review and Bookshelf Conversation)

  8. A Nice Little Place on the North Side, by George F. Will

  9. The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told, by Jeff Silverman

  10. Coaching Youth Baseball the Ripken Way, by Cal Ripken Jr.

Does the Little League frenzy have anything to do with the fact that four of the top ten books have to do with how to play the game, physically and mentally? (Betcha there’s a book on Mo’ne Davis is in the works.)

Although there’s no baseball book, per se, on the NY Times‘ best-seller list, it’s worth mentioning that Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter  (#25)  includes several essays regarding his love for the national pastime in general and the Washington Nationals in particular.

Not on this list? 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. Ya’ll are gonna do something about that, right? Only 10 copies left on Amazon*, so don’t delay ;) Just sayin’.

And if you have read it, thanks, hope you enjoyed it, and please consider writing a review for the Amazon page. Doesn’t have to be long (or even complimentary, if you didn’t like it), but anything would be appreciated.

* recently received a new shipment.

Baseball best-sellers, Aug. 22