Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tales from the Dugout by Mike Shannon

Why I Read It: I'm a Krank from way back, and this was a gift from my friend Tom from Texas.

Summary: A collection of baseball anecdotes, a little heavy on the Cincinnati side, gathered in the 1990s.

My Thoughts: Mike Shannon wanted to do a book of baseball anecdotes, but he wanted to make sure that he gathered tales that had not been told before. Baseball is a wonderful thing in that sense. It has such ridiculous depth that it is possible to turn over new stones every year and find such stories.

And the author did well. It was only on page 89 that I realized I had heard one story before, as well read as I am on the history of the sport and its characters.

These books generally age well. Baseball will always be a game of balls and sticks and gloves, of 90 feet between the bases, of short right field porches and hot shots down the third base line. The bones will always be there. It's the personalities that come and go, that fill the uniforms and the positions and lineup cards and bullpens that will change. So, even though time-stamped - for instance, when Shannon mentions that Ken Singleton is "currently" the radio announcer for the Montreal Expos - these books can proudly go onto the baseball bookshelf, despite the fact they occasionally make us stick our heads in the air and look at the calendar to check what year we're actually in.

The stories are wonderful, arranged alphabetically by subject. The one thing the book is missing is a postscript, or some other way of wrapping up the collection. In a way, it ends with triumph, but only because of its alphabetical arrangement. In the last few words, Anthony Young is carried away on the shoulders of teammates after breaking his major league record losing streak.

There was plenty in this book that I had never read before. It's the kind of book that you like to put on a shelf, knowing you may never read it all the way through again, but makes you smile when you see the spine, as you're reminded of how much you loved the book, and how much you love the game.

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