Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas (because, let’s face it, this post is too late for Hannukah), this is the time of year when you’re probably giving somebody somewhere a present. It’s not too late to be somebody’s favorite uncle (or aunt) or the most awesome Secret Santa in your office with this quick guide to some new (or newer) books featuring the Cleveland Indians or Cleveland baseball. Amazon links are included, but don’t forget you can buy books from Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or your local independent bookstore.
The Making of Major League (2015) by Jonathan Knight
Who doesn’t love Major League? It encompasses so much of what we love about baseball–an underdog team that makes good, superstitious players, crazy players, bloated egos, and a lot of laughs. Knight has taken interviews with writer/director David Ward, cast members, and just about anyone who helped make the film a reality and crafted it into a funny, informative, and supremely readable book. One of the things I love about it are the extra photos, pages from the original script, and storyboard illustrations scattered throughout the book. Knight shows his chops as both an interviewer and a writer. He lets Ward, the actors, and crew tell the story–their stories–and deftly links them together to form a narrative that’s incredibly compelling considering we know how the film turned out and the cult status it’s attained. This is a sure-fire win for the baseball or movie fan in your life.
Of Tribes and Tribulations: The Early Decades of the Cleveland Indians (2015) by James Odenkirk
Odenkirk meticulously covers the first six decades of the Indians’ existence from the end of the 19th century through the dismantling of the 1954 World Series club. Dr. Odenkirk is first and foremost a historian–he’s a professor emeritus at Arizona State University–but he’s also a fan of the game. The result is an well-researched history that, while not quite as light-hearted as The Making of Major League, is quite readable. It should have a place on the bookshelf of every serious fan.
Pitching to the Pennant: The 1954 Cleveland Indians (2014) Joseph Wancho (Editor), Rick Huhn (Editor), Leonard Levin (Editor), Bill Nowlin (Editor), Steve Johnson (Editor)
This book came about through the efforts of the Cleveland chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Every member of the 1954 Cleveland Indians team is profiled, from the Hall of Famers like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, and Larry Doby down to the bench players. In addition, there are profiles of manager Al Lopez, the coaching staff and broadcasters, a season timeline, and a first-hand account of Game One of the 1954 World Series. Chances are you know someone who was around for the ’54 World Series–it’s a nice way to relive a 111-43 season. Conversely, this is a great way to dissuade younger fans of the illusion that the 1995 Indians were the only good Cleveland baseball team in history.
League Park: Historic Home of Cleveland Baseball (2013) by Ken Krsolovic and Bryan Fritz
League Park is best known as being the home for Cleveland baseball from its opening in 1891 to 1946, however, it wasn’t just the Indians who played there. League Park also hosted Cleveland’s Negro League teams as well as the National Football League, college football, and boxing. Great gift for Indians fans or students of Cleveland history.
Integrating Cleveland Baseball: Media Activism, the Integration of the Indians, and the Demise of the Negro League Buckeyes (2010) by Stephanie Liscio
Yes, it came out a couple of years ago, but this was written by IPL’s Stephanie Liscio and it’s an insightful, thorough look at a lesser-known aspect of Cleveland’s baseball history. Cleveland had a succession of bad Negro League teams until the Cleveland Buckeyes came along in 1942 and promptly won the Negro League World Series in 1945 (and lost the Negro League World Series in 1947). The Indians integrated in 1946–the first American League team to do so. Liscio examines the effect of integration on the Buckeyes and how the Call & Post, Cleveland’s African-American weekly newspaper, wrote about both teams.
Throw Like a Woman (2015) by Susan Petrone
Brenda Haversham is a single mom living in Cleveland. She’s underemployed, broke, and angry, and the anger fuels a major league fastball. When someone takes video of her at the Test-Your-Speed game at a Tribe game, it goes viral. Soon she has an agent, a tryout with the Indians, and is on her way to becoming the first woman in the major leagues. Looking for a new baseball novel? Here it is.
Whatever you celebrate and however you celebrate, everyone at Its Pronounced Lajaway hopes you have a joyful holiday and a peaceful 2016.