In my role as editor of Sports Collectors Digest, I edit and design a feature every year where noted baseball author Dan Schlossberg looks at the top 50 baseball books of the year, offering a brief synopsis and in many cases a glimpse at a particular book’s cover.
I am hopeful (confident, really) that it’s a helpful feature for readers in providing a one-stop spot (OK, maybe two spots, since it will likely go in two issues) to check out a comprehensive listing of books that should pique their interest. The feature is slated to open in the Jan. 9 issue, and probably conclude the following week, though sometimes things get bumped by space considerations.
If you had to come up with a theme for the 2008 book season, it would presumably center around Yankee Stadium, which wound up with three of Dan’s top 6 books, and another half-dozen at least falling within the remaining 34 spots. And if that’s not enough prinstripe pudding for you, there are several more in the honorable mention listings, which numbers maybe another 75 tomes or so.
(Schlossberg, the author of nearly three dozen baseball books, declined to include his own 2008 effort in the listing, so we'll display it here – Baseball Bits: The Best Stories, Facts and Trivia from the Dugout to the Outfield.)
And while the various tributes to the final season of the great stadium dominate, there are lots of other smaller themes, like steroids and other forms of malfeasance, Cubs and Phillies travails and triumphs, and a goodly number of Red Sox books, including several either written or edited by occasional SCD contributor and Bosox historian Bill Nowlin.
Not surprisingly, the Cardboard Games: A Century of Baseball Cards, 1869-1969 book published by Mastro Auctions turns up, which was a neat addition to the considerable hobby reference library that has been produced by the auction behemoth.
As for the Yankee Stadium tomes, it produces a bit of anxiety for me, since we will be publishing our own book this spring, Legendary Yankee Stadium: Memories & Memorabilia From the House That Ruth Built. Several of the books on Schlossberg's list had been sent to me last year for review, and I purposely avoided looking at them at all, given the task that was at hand.
I’m not really as insecure about it as I sound. Our book should have its own niche with liberal use of much of the great artwork that has graced SCD’s pages over the years, along with photos of much of the spectacular memorabilia. Plus, the stories about Yankee greats have a hobby focus that I don’t think is replicated in other books.
I just wish I could have told some of those Mickey Mantle stories that Barry Halper told me over the years. Can’t have a book with an R rating, I guess.