Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bill "Spaceman" Lee and Jim Prime, Baseball Eccentrics

As those who know me know, we're a baseball-lovin' family here, we are. So it was completely in-character for my wife to get me the Spaceman's Baseball Eccentrics as a Father's Day gift. I read the whole thing in about one day!

Baseball is a sport that lends itself beautifully to storytelling, and here the wacky Lee doesn't disappoint! Focusing on the various "flakes" and eccentrics who have populated baseball over the decades, Lee provides generous helpings of old standards like Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Leo Durocher, and my personal fave: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych (I can still remember my father laughing at the TV when I was a kid back in 1976, watching Fidrych "talk" to the baseball!). But Lee also describes the eccentricities of more revered players (e.g., Satchel Paige, Barry Zito), players who delighted in practical jokes (Moe Drabowsky, Jay Johnstone), those who observed strange superstitions (like Kevin Rhomberg who, during his three years with the Cleveland Indians back in the early Eighties, superstitiously believed that every time he was touched by another human being, he had to touch that person back -- often with hilarious results!), and a wide variety of jokesters, irate managers (Earl Weaver, anyone?) and, of course, Bob Uecher! And while some of the stories may be familiar to you, Lee maintains a nice, conversational style that enhances the witty storytelling.

This was pure, mindless entertainment. If you or a friend/family enjoy baseball lore, this is a fun book!

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