SBD/March 11, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Bookshelf: New Book Explores DiMaggio's 56-Game Hit Streak

SI Senior Editor KOSTYA KENNEDY has written "56: JOE DIMAGGIO AND THE LAST MAGIC NUMBER IN SPORTS," and excerpts from the book appear in this week's SI. USA TODAY's Reid Cherner noted the book asks "whether DiMaggio would have been DiMaggio without the streak." Kennedy: "I don't think he would be the American icon and have the legacy he has today. ... 1941 is a year that has some resonance to it even if you are not a scholar of history" (USA TODAY, 3/9). In S.F., Al Saracevic wrote "the era, the ballplayer and the record are all laid out beautifully." Kennedy "reveals fascinating details of the notoriously private DiMaggio's San Francisco life, especially his first marriage, to actress DOROTHY ARNOLD." Kennedy also "delves into DiMiaggio's complicated relationships with his father and brothers" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/6).

SHEDDING A RAY OF LIGHT: In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin noted JONAH KERI has written "THE EXTRA 2%," a book about the Rays. The Rays "didn't grant Keri much inside access, just 15 minutes or so with their key execs, and as a result he didn't get much inside information in trying to explain, as the subtitle says, 'How Wall Street strategies took a major-league baseball team from worst to first.'" Instead, the book "tells a broader story of the evolution of the Rays franchise and little about the proprietary ways they became successful." Keri was "forced to turn to secondary and tertiary sources in amassing 175 interviews." He noted that several of the book's best passages "don't have to do with the stunning 2008 success but instead the past," including former Owner VINCE NAIMOLI's "reign of error and mistakes" by former GM CHUCK LAMAR's regime (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/6).

LESSONS FROM BASEBALL: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Terry Eastland noted Slam Magazine Exec Editor LANG WHITAKER, a Braves fan, "has written "IN THE TIME OF BOBBY COX." In the book, Whitaker focuses on the "life lessons that he says he 'learned from Bobby and the Atlanta Braves.'" Eastland wrote there is "risk in bringing your own meager life-story into a chronicle that focuses on one of the greatest recent teams in professional sports," but Whitaker "succeeds in being interesting enough." Eastland: "He writes engagingly about his life during those years -- about school, his relationships with his parents and grandparents, career choices, marriage, and starting a family. And weaving together his own stories and those of the Braves, he identifies the lessons learned" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/7).

BOOKSHELF: ESPN.com's Jenny Zimmerman noted Baseball HOFer CAL RIPKEN JR. and Baltimore Sun columnist KEVIN COWHERD have written the "young-adult novel 'HOTHEAD,'" the "first of a three-part series about a baseball team full of kids who learn to deal with life issues as well as on-the-field situations." The book "features main character CONNOR SULLIVAN, whom Ripken says is loosely based on him" (ESPN.com, 3/9)....The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Tim Marchman notes ROB RUCK in his book "RACEBALL" explores the "twinned history of black and Latino baseball." The book "reminds us of the long, independent history of baseball in Latin America and of how it was intertwined with North America's Negro Leagues." Ruck "traces the decline of black participation in baseball to the way in which Major League Baseball handled integration" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/11)....TIME magazine's Eric Banks notes "AT THE FIGHTS," edited by GEORGE KIMBALL and JOHN SCHULIAN, "gathers the most stylish dispatches from the past century, with literary heavyweights (NORMAN MAILER, JAMES BALDWIN) sharing space with past champs like W.C. HEINZ and JIMMY CANNON." Banks: "For a nimble sample of prizefight prose, DON KING couldn't have put together a better card" (TIME, 3/14 issue).
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