The Mets have never had a Harry Potter, but they did have Harry Parker.
Parker displayed no magical abilities during his three-year stint with the team. Arriving in a deal with the Cardinals for Art Shamsky in 1973, he went 14-19 with 11 saves and a 3.77 ERA before we sold him back to Azkerban, err, the Cardinals in 1975.
But I spent the weekend immersed in the world of the teen-age wizard, finishing the book before accidentally stumbling on any spoilers in the media, be they articles or co-workers. We saw the movie on Saturday, too. You can read more about my adventures in obtaining the book at my work blog, Head of the Class
My wife is often amazed that I just don’t read fiction. I figure I’ve read 9 works of fiction in the last decade, seven of which are the Potter books. Ironically, I read one of the other two — “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon — earlier this month after a discussion about autism at work.
I’m not sure why I stick to non-fiction. Maybe it’s a reporter thing, because we like to stick to the facts. Maybe it’s because truth is sometimes even stranger than stuff anyone can make up. More likely it’s because I stick to my two main areas of interest — presidents and the Mets.
I haven’t read all the Mets books, but certainly a bunch of them. Here are some notables:
Best example of an author without a clue: “Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team” by Peter Golenbock.
Golenbock’s MO is that he finds a couple old players, lets the tape recorder run and calls it an “oral history.” And indeed, some of the anecdotes in this book are interesting and amusing.
But I nearly tossed the tome when he got to 1967 and referred to someone called “Thomas George Seaver.” I have no idea who the hell that could be, because everyone knows that the only guy in Cooperstown with a Mets cap on his plaque is George Thomas Seaver, better known to all as Tom.
When kids ask me about my job, I tell them about the importance of getting things right. Because if one thing is incorrect, it makes people wonder what else in a story is inaccurate.
And frankly, if Golenbock can’t even get the name of the team’s all-time hero and best player right, well, it makes me take everything else with a grain of salt. After seeing this, I was looking for other screw-ups — and there were others — the rest of the way through.
Plus, there’s the subtitle. “New York’s Most Beloved Baseball Team” is a shameless attempt to lure us in by a guy who had previously published two fawning oral histories about the Dodgers and Yankees. I'm sure he got Derek Jeter's name right.
The writing here is nothing special — unless you count the parts that were added by hand. A Christmas gift from my folks in 1986, this book has accompanied me to nearly two decades of spring trainings, major and minor league stadiums and baseball card shows.
Whenever I meet a Met past or present, I ask him to sign the book. I think I’m up to about 200 signatures, from Hall of Famers Tom Seaver, Warren Spahn, Gary Carter and Richie Ashburn to short-timers Brent Mayne and Eric Cammack, from phenoms like Gregg Jefferies to flops like Marvelous Marv they’re all a part of our Mets history and in the book.
Jorge Sosa was the most recent signer, obtained at Comerica Park last month.
Personal glory aside, this is still a good book packed with photos from 1962 through 1986.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this tome — my first Mets history book! I knew every photo caption by heart. "McGraw arrives, McGraw delivers."
Koppett is a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame's Writers Wing and the book was written after the 1969 championship. I had the updated version that came out in 1974 after the World Series. And here’s where things get strange. The Mets team colors, as we know, are blue and orange. Don’t get me started on the addition of black. The team that beat them in the World Series was the Oakland Athletics, who wore green and yellow.
The cover of this book? That would be green and yellow.
Did this not strike anyone at the Macmillan Publishing Company back in 1974 as even a little odd? Had Yankee fans infiltrated?
This is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Not sure about the book, but the cover is a classic old-school baseball photo of Gil — bow heads reverently — kneeling as if in the on-deck circle, with batting helmets posed neatly on either side.
It’s exactly the kind of old-school photo I used to hang on the bedroom wall. And speaking of old school, when was the last time you saw a player kneeling in the on-deck circle. I guess the idea was to not block the view of the paying customers. Now guys just stand there swinging.
Book most likely never read by its alleged author: “Nails,” by Lenny Dykstra.
Look, we all love Lenny. And he’s a successful businessman so he certainly isn’t a dummy.
But I just don’t see him being the kind of guy willing to seriously sit down and put pen to paper.
Izenberg, then a columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, gets points just for pissing off Yankee fans who no doubt erupt at the very idea that their pinstriped blowhards didn’t appear in something billed “the greatest game ever played.”
The book is a quick read and a fine look at Game 6 of the NLCS between the Mets and the Astros. Sure, he looks at the game in great detail, but also the personalities on both sides.
The game was on Oct. 15, 1986, and I was at the University of Missouri. I remember being glued to the TV, frustrated that I had to head off to class during the game. I rushed back to our apartment hoping to catch the score – this was before we could follow along on the Internet – and was amazed -- and thrilled -- that the game was still on.
The sixth game of that World Series gets a lot of the attention, but Izenberg wasn’t too far off. This was a game for the ages.
Book for Mets-haters by a Mets-hater: “The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse of the New York Mets” by Bob Klapisch
This is like me writing a book about Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Roger Clemens and everyone else whose middle initial has been replaced with an F.
Klapisch is known to despise all things Met and you can no-doubt hear him cackling with glee as he types every word about Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman and the other participants of what might be our darkest hour.
Then again, I have to assume that you can hear the Klap cackle, because I have never held this book in my hands, much less read it.
I'm not one of those book-burners, but this might be an exception. Heck, had Ray Bradbury not penned "Farenheit 451" prior to 1993, he would have had characters saying things like, "People, we can't go burning books. OK, you can burn that crap frm Klapisch. But nothing else!"
There you go! I'd love to hear what Mets books you've liked over years.