I hope that this is something that can become a regular series at IPL – a look at new (or relatively new) baseball books of interest to Indians fans. They will be either conversations with the authors, or reviews of the books (or in some cases, both). Due to personal schedule constraints, I’d like to start with some of the author discussions and review the books at a later date (like when I actually have time to read them).
First up in this series is Jacobs Field: History and Tradition at the Jake by Vince McKee
It’s hard to believe that Jacobs (Progressive) Field will enjoy its twentieth anniversary this year. During that time the Indians have created incredible memories in the park at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario – playoff seasons and the fact that winning baseball returned to Cleveland for the first time in nearly 40 years. It’s also had its share of more disappointing moments – rebuilding seasons and years where the team was well out of contention by the end of summer.
McKee’s new book looks at all of the major Jacobs Field highlights to date; in fact the book ends with the Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Rays last October. He starts with the ballpark’s inaugural season in the first chapter, with a look at how John Hart created the team that would call Jacobs Field home in 1994. McKee then progresses chronologically to the memorable 1995 season.
One of the things that McKee thinks will make the book unique (aside from the scope that takes the book from 1994 through the end of 2013) is the insider’s look into the team throughout the past two decades. McKee conducted a number of candid interviews with both players and management – Mike Hargrove, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, and Charlie Nagy, to name a few. In fact, the level of detail actually opened up a door to the clubhouse, particularly with some of the 1990s teams. Readers learn about some of the disagreements Kenny Lofton had with management, and how Carlos Baerga tries to teach his son to learn from his mistakes. And also how Charlie Nagy still thinks about Edgar Renteria’s game/series-winning hit in game seven of the 1997 World Series even today.
The Jacobs Field book, published by The History Press, is McKee’s third book. His first book, Hero, was published through a publishing group McKee formed, V Peter Press. It’s a true account of a rag-tag group of ballplayers that McKee took to states as an 18-year-old coach. McKee’s second book, also published through his independent group, is Cleveland’s Finest – a look at some of the greatest moments in Cleveland sports. As someone who wrote a book, one of my least favorite questions is “So what are you working on now?” Isn’t the book I just finished good enough for you people? But of course I asked McKee this question…probably because I’m kind of a jerk. He actually is already working on a new project though, a history of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If you’re interested in the book, or perhaps would like a chance to chat with the author, McKee will be appearing at several events around Cleveland to coincide with Opening Day. On April 4 he’ll be at the Baseball Heritage Museum in the Euclid Arcade from 1:30 until about 4 p.m. On April 10 he’ll be at the Books a Million in Fairview at the Westgate Shopping Center from 6-8 p.m. On Friday, April 11 he’ll be at Visible Voice Books in Tremont from 7-9 p.m. and on April 12 at the Barnes and Noble in Crocker Park from 2-4 p.m. You can also find him on Twitter: @VinceTheAuthor