Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Books and Replays

I was about 75 percent through reading “The Colonel and Hug,” the Steve Steinberg and Lyle Spatz book about Jacob Ruppert, Miller Huggins and the birth of the Yankee dynasties, when I did what I usually do when reading a baseball book.

As I learned about the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in December 1919, the Yanks' first World Series teams and players like Lou Gehrig, Joe Dugan, Bob Shawkey and Waite Hoyt, I caught myself thinking about doing an APBA baseball replay from the late 1920s. I went to the game company's website, looked at the rosters for the 1927 season and checked, a great baseball website, for more information about that year. I scanned the standings and league leaders and I inspected the box scores for various teams.

It's a common occurrence. Whatever era I am reading about at the time generally sparks an interest in doing that season's replay. That's one of the draws of the game we play. Immersing oneself into a replay season enhances the reading. It's almost a three-dimensional approach. We read about Babe Ruth, say, in Robert Creamer's biography of the Babe, but we can also replicate his career at the plate by rolling the dice and playing the game.

It happens a lot.

I want to roll the 1969 season whenever I read Jim Bouton's classic “Ball Four.” I itch to replay something in the 1930s when I delve into Creamer's bio on Joe DiMaggio and the 1980s become the interest when I read Keith Hernandez's “If At First.”

I bought the 1919 APBA baseball season immediately after reading Al Stump's questionable biography of Ty Cobb. On the inverse, I bought Tom Kelley's book 'Season of Dreams,” about the 1991 Minnesota Twins' drive to the World Series after I got the 1991 APBA baseball season to play. And I found a battered paperback of Vida Blue's biography in a used bookstore specifically to read while I did a replay of the 1972 season.

I've done a few book reviews here before and offered various suggested readings for various era replays. I think it goes hand-in-hand. Those of us who spend months, years, doing replays, also read a lot. Sports history and biographies are probably some of the replayers' staple material.

While I finished “The Colonel and Hug,” which was a well-researched book (the details of the death of Huggins was rather short, though: “Huggins got sick. He died. New chapter.”), I thought about getting that 1927 season. I have another baseball book on deck to read next, though. “Big Data Baseball,” by Travis Sawchik, a “Moneyball” look at the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates' first winning season in 20 years, may motivate me to grab that season's replay from APBA.

First, though, I need to finish the 1950 replay. Then it's on to 1991 and Tom Kelley's book.

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