The Seventh Year Stretch

By Paul Hagen /

seventhyearstretchTiming is everything in sports. It can also be crucial in writing about sports.

When Greg Prato conceived “The Seventh Year Stretch: New York Mets 1977-83,” his latest oral history of a Big Apple franchise, the team was in the doldrums, suffering from both losing records on the field and an image of a team in the country’s largest market unwilling to spend what it took to compete.

As it was coming out, the Mets were coming on strong in the second half, creating drama with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes and the drama surrounding how many innings Matt Harvey would pitch, that culminated in a surprise trip to the World Series.

What’s interesting is that the author chose to feature another unsuccessful period in team history, a time frame during which the Mets had nothing but losing records. One reason is that it also was a time during which several moves were made that led to the 1984-90 epoch during which the club finished first or second every season and won the 1986 World Series.

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Baseball Maverick

By Will Leitch /

baseballmaverickBack in April, I reviewed Steve Kettmann’s biography of Sandy Alderson, “Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets,” for The Wall Street Journal. The book was well-researched and well-written, but also struck me as strangely worshipful of Alderson — in a way that even Alderson would resist — occasionally dismissive of modern analytic baseball thinking and, more than anything else, a little presumptuous of just how great a job Alderson had done with the Mets. The first sentence of the review: “There is a chance the New York Mets will not be terrible this season.” The presumption was clear: Why write a book about this team?

So! Here we are, with Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field Tuesday night, with the Mets two games away from their first World Series in 15 years. So perhaps it was in fact worthwhile to write a book about this team and this general manager after all. Kettmann, graciously (considering how I panned his tome), agreed to answer some of my questions about this year’s team and Alderson’s legacy.

Click here to read the full Q&A

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Position to Win

By Paul Hagen /

As the title implies, the memoir by veteran broadcaster Dewayne Staats is more than an autobiographical collection of baseball memories and career highlights. It is positive and uplifting, even when he discusses topics that are anything but.

positiontowin“Position to Win: A Look at Baseball and Life From the Best Seat in the House” chronicles everything from his Midwestern upbringing, to his nearly two decades of calling the action for the Rays, to everything in-between. And while there’s plenty to tell — he worked with Hall of Fame announcers Gene Elston and Harry Caray and for George Steinbrenner, after all — this formula is common enough in memoirs.

What sets this work apart is the unifying theme throughout. Staats relates the concept of positivity to his own career, to baseball and to the world at large.

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The Little General

By Paul Hagen /

littlegeneralMention Gene Mauch to most fans, and one-dimensional portraits will likely emerge. A stern, cold, old-school manager. The manager who misused his rotation down the stretch in 1964 as the Phillies squandered a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 to play. Or the guy who managed the most years in the big leagues, 26, without taking his team to the World Series.

In “The Little General: A Baseball Life,” Mel Proctor introduces the more well-rounded human being who is widely considered to have possessed one of the best baseball minds of his era.

Proctor, who has done play-by-play for the Rangers, Orioles, Nationals and Padres, got to know Mauch in 2002 while working for a small television station in Palm Springs, Calif. Proctor reached out to the former skipper during the World Series — won in seven games by the Angels — to see if he’d be interested in working as a studio commentator before and after each game.

Proctor wouldn’t have been surprised, he wrote, to find a “bitter, old man.” Instead, Mauch was a delight.

Click here to read the full article

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Yasiel Puig and George Genovese

Originally posted on Dodger Blue World:

I am reading the book about George Genovese titled  “A Scout’s Report.   My 70 Years in Baseball”. It is written with Dan Taylor.  I had a chance to hear Mr. Genovese at a SABR event a few years back, then a couple a few weeks ago I went to his talk/book signing event at South Pasadena.  It was an honor to hear him and his author. Mark Langill presented him. In attendance were Fred Claire who was a member of the Dodgers’ front office for 30 years And John Young who played for the Tigers in 1971 and founded RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). These two men along with some other people in the audience were there to pay tribute to Mr. Genovese based on what they had to say when they put their hand up. They did not ask a question, they praised Mr. Genovese.

I am…

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When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the “Horace Clarke Era” Blogs Usher:

Former All-Star pitcher Fritz Peterson has penned a book providing an inside look at his time with the Yankees.

Originally posted on

When the Yankees Were On The Fritz: Revisiting the This book is a players inside look at the Horace Clarke Era, a low point in Yankee history when the New York Yankees couldn’t win a pennant despite having one of the best right handed/and left handed pitching combinations in the game of baseball, Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson. It begins with the day Fritz Peterson entered the Yankee clubhouse in the spring of 1966 and goes through the day he, and 3 teammates were traded to the Cleveland Indians. Some of the characters Fritz met were amazing, from Mickey Mantle down to a minor leaguer named Luke Lamboley. You will learn that the Yankees were a real family during those days, unlike todays business entities who take their own limo’s to the airports for road games.

Fritz Peterson will sign and personalize your  book.


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Shamless plug for my new baseball novel Blogs Usher:

One of our own wrote an e-book centered around the story of Charlie Faust and the New York Giants. Terry Nelson of Balls and Strikes talks about a work he calls “not just baseball fiction, but a satirical look at fame and celebrity.”

Originally posted on Balls and Strikes:

In July of 1911, Charlie Faust walked onto Robison Field in St. Louis before a game where the New York Giants were warming up. He told John McGraw, New York manager, about a fortune teller in Kansas who said Charlie would pitch the Giants to the pennant. He did join the Giants, but not in St. Louis, and not exactly in a normal way.

English: Former NY Giants pitcher Charlie Faust. English: Former NY Giants pitcher Charlie Faust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To this day, nobody knows if Faust was a bit crazy, slow in the head, or exactly what. He was the target of many pranks by his team mates, but speaking of him in later years, they all spoke highly of Charlie.

My E-book takes an insider look at the events surrounding Charlie and the Giants. The narrator is Chet Koski, a fictional rookie on the team, who is not doing well on the field, or…

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In Pursuit of Pennants


By Paul Hagen /

There’s not much in baseball these days that isn’t measured, computed, analyzed, collated, compared, studied, crunched and entered into a database. But as analysis has reached an increasingly granular level, one element missing is a big-picture view of why some teams win and some don’t.

Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt have addressed that in “In Pursuit of Pennants.” It is both scholarly — featuring charts, graphs and references to WAR — and eminently readable.

While there is obviously no single foolproof blueprint that guarantees winning the World Series every year, the authors have identified the areas in which successful teams have tended to excel over the last 100-plus years.

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The Game Must Go On

By Paul Hagen /

thegamemustgoonMajor League games these days often include tributes to the military, a fitting way of thanking our service men and women for their sacrifices.

Neither should we forget that, during World War II, many star players did more than figuratively tip their caps to the troops. Some of the biggest names of that era gave up significant portions of their careers to serve their country.

In “The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray and the Great Days of Baseball on the Homefront in WW II,” author John Klima uses broad, omniscient brush strokes to look at the players who departed, the impact on the game they left behind and how it was all interconnected to the ferocious fighting overseas.

Read the full article

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Cal Ripken, Jr. to throw out first pitch, sign his new book on March 5 at Ed Smith Stadium


outathomeThe Orioles today announced that Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will visit Ed Smith Stadium on Thursday, March 5 for the Orioles’ 7:05 p.m. game against the Toronto Blue Jays, where he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign copies of his new children’s book, Out At Home, on the lower concourse beginning at 8:00 p.m.

The visit is part of a national book tour for Out At Home, the fifth installment in the New York Times best-selling “Cal Ripken, Jr.’s All-Stars” series. Ripken will autograph the first 300 books, which will be available for purchase at the game for $16.99. Due to time constraints, Ripken will be unable to sign additional items.

Tickets for the Orioles-Blue Jays game are available and can be purchased at the Ed Smith Stadium Box Office, via, or by phone at 877-222-2802.


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