SCD readers will no doubt recognize the name Stephen Wong as the author of the iconic Smithsonian Baseball, arguably the finest book ever produced about the sports memorabilia hobby. That marvelous book – including the stunning photography of Susan Einstein, whose images graced the first book as well – has now been adapted for youngsters (ages 6-11, $16.99) in Baseball Treasures.
That’s about as nifty a double play as anything ever engineered by Tinker, Evers and Chance.
“If there were an MVP award for baseball memorabilia collecting, Stephen Wong would be a lock to win.” That’s about as good as it gets for a blub – even more impressive when the blurber is Sports Illustrated.
To quote the press release: “Baseball Treasures brings a dazzling array of the game’s most cherished memorabilia from the world’s best collections, plus indispensable advice from the experts on building a baseball collection. Detailed histories of bats, balls, cards, gloves, jerseys, and trophies combined with over 100 photo illustrations will inspire young fans of America’s game to start their own collection.”
Here’s a sampling of what’s in the book:
• Original copy of the first written rules of modern baseball
• A scorecard from the inaugural World Series in 1903
• A bat used by Babe Ruth to hit home runs in the 1926 and 1927 season
• A baseball autographed by each member of the 1927 New York Yankees
• The actual ball caught by Yogi Berra for the last out in Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series
• Game-worn jerseys of Lou Gehrig (1927); Ty Cobb (1928); Babe Ruth (1932 World Series); Dizzy Dean (1934) and Jackie Robinson (1948)
Wong, a lifelong collector of rare and historically significant artifacts, spent two and a half years researching this book, in addition to the years he spent working on Smithsonian Baseball. His research took him to the homes of many of the most famous collectors in the hobby, providing a dramatic glimpse at remarkable accumulations that have lived in hobby lore and legend for decades.
A graduate of Stanford Law School, Wong is currently an executive director at Goldman Sachs. He was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now lives in Hong Kong.
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George “Shotgun” Shuba is one of a handful of surviving members of the seminal 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team that brought a World Series crown to the borough barely in time for Walter O’Malley to spirit the ball club out to the West Coast two years later.
Shuba has published his autobiography, My Memories as a Brooklyn Dodger, with an “as told to” writing credit for Greg Gulas. The cover of the book features a collage of Shuba with his HOF teammates Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella, plus the famous photo of Shuba shaking Robinson’s hand after Robinson had clubbed his first home run as a professional on April 18, 1946, at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J. Shuba and Robinson were teammates on the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ affiliate, playing the top minor-league club of the Dodgers’ hated rivals, the New York Giants.
Shuba’s son, Mike, has done much over the last several years in promoting his dad’s link to baseball history, including marketing that historic image, “A Handshake for the Century,” on the official George Shuba website, www.georgeshuba.com.
The book, which includes detailed accounts of that moment and many others, is offered on his website, along with Shuba’s recollections of many of his teammates from those Dodgers teams and observations about everybody from Chuck Connors and Charlie “The Brow” DiGiovanni (the Bums’ famous batboy) to Charlie Dressen and Casey Stengel.
The book also features a foreword by Roger Kahn, author of the seminal The Boys of Summer, arguably the most revered sportswriter of his generation.
In my column in SCD, I made a sarcastic reference to cyberspace in the headline, a petulant gesture that stems from an oddly errant sentence in Shuba’s Wikipedia entry. It states: “(Shuba) won the National League’s Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 1948 and the league’s MVP in 1949.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s the cyber equivalent of muffing a ground ball and then firing the throw to first wildly into the mezzanine. Shuba, obviously, did not win either award; the entry would seemingly be for the man he is linked to in baseball history: Robinson. Except that Robinson was the Rookie of the Year in 1947 instead of 1948. He was the National League’s MVP in 1949.
And just to be clear, the error doesn’t go to Shuba, but rather to whomever bungled that entry.