Spring Training Preparation

player bagsBaseball is back! I look forward to this time of year with great anticipation. We are two weeks or so from the start of Baseball season. I am having a hard time not counting down to opening day. Pitchers and Catchers – counted down, Spring Training – counted down, Opening day – trying not to count down, but for those of you counting… there’s 17 days.

This year, I decided to hold my own Spring Training to get ready for the season. Over the last year or so, I’ve acquired several books on the topic of baseball. I pulled them out in December – after winter meetings, and reacquainted myself with the sport after taking two months off.

For the fun of it, I thought I’d share with you my personal spring training preparation reading list.

The Yogi Book – For people who really like Yogi-isms, this book is really cool. Its some of Yogi Berra’s best quotes, and the background of what led to the comment.The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn. I really enjoyed this book. The book starts with Roger Kahn’s first assignment as beat writer with the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is a great historical work…and its a good story! I’ve actually read this book twice. Once for the baseball history and once for the player history.

Carl Erskine’s Tales from the Dodger Dugout Extra Innings, by (you guessed it), Carl Erskine. These are stories that Carl Erskine remembers from his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers (the Boys of Summer). This is a cool little book with neat stories about Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Jackie Robinson. This book gives you a glimpse into the world of 1940 through 1950s baseball from the player’s perspective.

Jinxed: Baseball Superstitions from around the Major Leagues, edited by Ken Leiker. Okay, I knew baseball players were superstitious, but I never realized how obsessively superstitious they were until I read some of these stories.

Harvard Boys, by John Wolff and Rick Wolff. I’ve just started reading this one. This book is about life in the minor leagues. Both father and son were drafted out of Harvard prior to graduation. John (the Wolff son) is the third generation to make it to professional ballplayer status. He chronicals his days starting from minor league camp through the rest of his career. So far, my initial thoughts are the life of the minor league ballplayer is pretty boring. I’m having a little bit of difficulty staying interested. I like the diary format from John, but the color commentary from dad is a little distracting.

Mets by the Numbers: A complete team history of the Amazin’ Mets by Uniform Number, by Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman. This is a cool book. Mets by the Numbers looks at the history of the New York Mets by examing who wore what uniform number and why. There are more than 800 players who have played for the Mets since the beginning of the franchise in 1962. There is insightful history, humorous stories and its all from a fan’s perspective. I’m really enjoying this book.

Mathatically Alive. This is a documentary about being a fan, examined from the perspective of New York Mets fans. This is not a book, but I thought it warranted mentioning here in my Spring Training Preparation article. The directors, Joseph Coburn and Katherine Foronjy, take a look at why sports are such a big part of American culture. This documentary takes us through the rise and fall of emotions of NY Mets fans through the 2006 playoffs. The documentary explores the investment of emotions, time and money for loyal fans. I really enjoyed this documentary. I loved the way the interviews were candid and honest. I hated seeing the broken hearted fans. After seeing Mathematically Alive, there is no doubt in my mind that true Sports Fans are unique individuals who can sustain a great deal of stress. This is a celebration documentary for every hardcore fan of any sport. Mathematically Alive does an amazin’ job of capturing both the joy and the pain of being a fan.

Well, that does it. After all this preparation, I think I’m ready for the season to begin!

Edited to add:

MET FAN By Dana Brand – For some of you that aren’t children of the 60s and 70s, there is some good insight out there about the “early years” of being a met fan. I’m reading Met Fan by Dana Brand right now and the parts about how bad the 60s and some of the 70s really were, gives me an interesting perspective that I don’t have firsthand. (This particular book is essentially essays written from a fan’s perspective). Sure there were a few good years, but overall, they was no reason to be a fan. Other than HOPE. There was nothing more than the Mets were the home team – YOUR TEAM – YOUR GUYS. There was nothing to do but cheer them and support them, no matter how bad they were. There didn’t appear to be a sense of “we have to win” by the fans, but more of a “I hope we can just stay out of last place”.  This book was extremely insightful for me.  I enjoyed it immensely and I appreciate the effort it took to write something like this!

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