May 18 2013

“The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych” with Doug Wilson

For those who remember him, Mark Fidrych is still that player who brings a smile to your face, the irresistibly likable pitcher whose sudden rise brightened the season of 1976 and reminded us of the pure joy of the game.

Lanky, mop-topped, and nicknamed for his resemblance to Big Bird on Sesame Street, Fidrych exploded onto the national stage during the Bicentennial summer as a rookie with the Detroit Tigers.  He won over fans nationwide with his wildly endearing antics such as talking to the ball -- and throwing back the ones that “had hits in them;” getting down on his knees to “manicure” the mound of any cleat marks; and shaking hands with just about everyone from teammates to groundskeepers to cops during and after games. Female fans tried to obtain locks of his hair from his barber and even named babies after him.

But The Bird was no mere sideshow. The non-roster invitee to spring training that year quickly emerged as one of the best pitchers in the game. Meanwhile, his boyish enthusiasm, his famously modest lifestyle, and his refusal to sign with an agent during the days of labor disputes and free agency made him a fan favorite.  A rare player who transcended pop culture, Fidrych was named starting pitcher in the All-Star Game as a rookie (the first of his two All-Star nods) and became the first athlete to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Baseball researcher Doug Wilson delivers the first biography of this once-in-a-lifetime player. Through extensive interviews and meticulous research, the author recounts Fidrych’s meteoric rise from Northborough, Massachusetts to the big leagues, his heartbreaking fall after injuries, his comeback attempts with the Tigers and in the Red Sox system, and one unforgettable night when The Bird pitched a swan song for the Pawtucket Red Sox against future star Dave Righetti in a game that remains part of local folklore. Finally, Wilson captures Fidrych’s post-baseball life and his roles in the community, tragically culminating with his death in a freak accident at the age of 54.

Listen in -- as we celebrate The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych...

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May 10 2013

“501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die” with Ron Kaplan

You're not getting any younger.  Listen up.

"I don't know whether Ron Kaplan took any performance-enhancing drugs, but he has accomplished something amazing.  His book is the ultimate guide to baseball literature.  If you love baseball or books or any combination thereof, you should pick this up now." -A. J. Jacobs, editor-at-large at Esquire magazine and author of four New York Times bestsellers

From a bewildering array of baseball books, Ron Kaplan has chosen 501 of the best, making it easier for fans to find just the books to suit them -- or to know what they're missing.  From biography, history, fiction, and instruction to books about ballparks, business, and rules, anyone who loves to read about baseball will find in this book a companionable guide, far more fun than a reference work has any right to be.

In addition to working as a sports and features editor for a weekly New Jersey publication, Ron Kaplan is a freelance writer, specializing in book reviews.  A long-time member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he serves as editor for the Bibliography Committee Newsletter.  Ron writes about baseball books and other media regularly at RonKaplansBaseballBookshelf.com.

Since the pages on a calendar continue to turn for us all, listen in to the lively Clubhouse discussion about 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die...

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May 2 2013

“Core Four” with author Phil Pepe

Derek Jeter.  Mariano Rivera.  Jorge Posada.  Andy Pettitte.

Tracing the careers of four instrumental players who turned around the New York Yankees, Core Four shares behind-the-scenes stories from their early days together in the minors through the 2012 season, and follows them on their majestic ride to the top of the baseball world.  At a time when the Yankees were in free fall, having failed to win a World Series in 17 years and had not played in one in 14 years -- the Bronx Bombers’ longest drought since before the days of Babe Ruth -- along came four young players whose powerful impact returned the franchise to its former glory.

Phil Pepe is the author of more than 50 books on sports, including Few and Chosen Yankees: Defining Yankee Greatness Across the Eras, The Yankees: An Authorized History of the New York Yankees, as well as a biography of Yogi Berra, and collaborations with New York Yankee legends Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and Whitey Ford.  He is a former Yankees beat writer for the New York Daily News and a past president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The legendary Phil Pepe filled the Clubhouse with fascinating stories about the Core Four, Yankees history, and a touching memory about Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey.  Listen and enjoy...

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