Baseball: Books about Chicago baseball good summer reading

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

One of the cool things about being a sports writer is every so often I get newly-published sports-related books sent to me. The publishing company requests that I read them and then do a review. It’s very flattering that these multi-million-dollar publishing companies have included me on their mailing list, but what is even more amazing is they actually seem interested in my opinion.

During the past two weeks, I have received three new books. Let me begin by saying I have yet to read a single page in any of them. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s I really just haven’t had the time. I do plan on reading them, though.

The first one I’m going to read is ERNIE BANKS: Mr. Cub and the Summer of ’69, by Phil Rogers. This biography takes a look at the most beloved baseball player to ever wear the Cubs uniform. Rogers retells many of the most memorable stories of Ernie Banks’ major league career.

Highlights include his experience picking cotton in north Texas as a youth. His thoughts on the 1964 trade that sent Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals. He discusses how people like Buck O’Neill, Leo Durocher and Phil Wrigley touched his life. As the subtitle indicates, Rogers and Banks relate the incredible highs and difficult lows of the 1969 season.

When I finish that one, I’m moving on to another book about Chicago baseball: Said in Stone: Your Game, My Way, by former Cubs and White Sox pitcher Steve Stone.

According to the accompanying press notes, Stone breaks down each baseball position and how to play it correctly. He shares his opinion about the importance of managing and the front office’s role in creating a successful team. He reflects on his pitching career with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Orioles.

Stone also takes a look at his days as a baseball broadcaster. He spent 20 seasons in the Cubs television booth, most of it in his famous pairing with Hall of Famer Harry Carey. Since 2009, Stone has been the color commentator for the White Sox.

The most recent book I received is Total White Sox: The Definitve Encyclopedia of the Chicago White Sox, by Richard C. Lindberg/Foreword by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. This monstrous single-volume encyclopedia delves into the rich history of the White Sox. It’s full of statistics, data, photographs and stories that chronicle the franchise from the early 1900s to the winning 1960s to the forgettable ’70s and the return to glory in 2005.

With the addition of this book to my library, I now feel comfortable inviting any question anyone could come up with about the White Sox. I’m pretty sure if I look hard enough, the answer is on one of the pages of that book.

I hope I’ll have some relaxing afternoons this summer to dive into my new reading material. Wouldn’t that be nice? The job of a sports writer is never done.

From the April 27-May 3, 2011 issue

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