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The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View
The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View
by Doug Glanville
Edition: Hardcover
85 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected pleasure, December 25, 2015
Sometimes a book comes out of nowhere and demands attention.

"The Game From Where I Stand" is that book, 2010 baseball version. I can't say I've ever read a book quite like it.

It's written by Doug Glanville, who you might know as a respectable outfielder for several teams, mostly the Phillies, in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Glanville was a regular at times, a spot starter at others.

What you might not know, if you didn't live in a city in which he played, is that he's a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Heck, he graduated from the engineering school there. For history's sake, it should be noted that he's the first African American to come out of the Ivy League and play major league baseball. Come to think of it, there aren't many of any particular hue to play in the majors after time in the Ivies, so that makes Glanville pretty special.

What the former outfielder does here is describe what it's like to be a major league baseball player. This isn't a basic recounting of big hits and great victories, since he didn't have many of those. Glanville simply tells about the life in ways that you haven't even considered. It takes a sharp mind to do that for an entire book, but he's done it.

Let's see, there's...

* What do you do if a veteran comes to your team in a trade and wants his old uniform number -- your uniform number -- back? You give it to him, perhaps expecting some "compensation" in return.

* What does a player do in the hours before a game? You'd be surprised just how busy he is, between interviews, video work, workouts, etc.

* What happens when a ballplayer gets called up to the majors? Or gets traded? Chaos, to a certain degree.

* What are players thinking when a fight breaks out? Mostly, don't get hurt.

* Where is the greatest chance for team unity to come unhinged? Perhaps in the family room of ballparks, where relatives of the players mix before, during and after the game.

* Are status symbols important in the majors? Oh yeah -- women and cars, in particular.

Glanville raises all sorts of issues in the 250 pages here, matters that for the most part never come up in conversation. What's more, he does it in a thoughtful, clear, well-written manner.

Glanville is doing some broadcasting and writing now that he's retired. Yes he's good at it. This is a smart man with a good-sized future in the business.

"The Game From Where I Stand" will be a page-turner for almost anyone who follows major league baseball. Buy it now, thank me later.

High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time
High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time
by Tim Wendel
Edition: Hardcover
46 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent effort, December 24, 2015
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Sometimes it's easy to wonder how a particular approach has never been covered in a book before.

Tim Wendel must have wondered that at some point.

Baseball fans have always tinkered with the question, "Who is the hardest thrower in baseball history?" It's irresistible, because there's no answer. We only started using speed guns on pitchers in the 1970's leaving almost a century of pitchers who went untimed.

Who are the candidates? How do you tell the difference between fact and fiction? And why hasn't anyone written a book about this before?

Wendel no doubt considered the last question in that paragraph before moving on to the other two. His quest is in "High Heat," and it's a fine treatment of an interesting subject.

Wendel makes one interesting decision right off the bat. It would have been pretty easy to pick out a dozen candidates for the title of "fastest of all time," do short biographies and pick a winner. But the author doesn't go that way. A hint comes in the subtitle: "The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time."

This really is a journey. Wendel takes along as he explores the subject in various parts of America. So we get to sit with Bob Feller as he talks about the time his fastball took part in a race against a motorcycle in an effort to judge the speed of the pitch. Or, we get to listen to Nolan Ryan talk about the subject. There's even a trip to a New York City cemetery to honor the first of the great fireballers.

The most interesting story centers on Steve Dalkowski, a Connecticut legend in high school who could throw the ball incredibly hard but rarely seemed to know where it was going. Ever seen a no-hitter with 21 strikeouts and 12 walks? That was a typical day at the office.

Dalkowski signed with the Orioles but never got out of the minors in the late 1950's and early 1960's, eventually turned to alcohol and dropped off the face of the earth for a while. There's a semi-happy ending there, as Dalkowski has recovered his faculties somewhat and it still well remembered in his home state.

Also mixed in are other parts of the story. Wendel visited Dr. James Andrews' clinic in Alabama to get his pitching delivery by some experts -- it apparently wasn't very pretty. He also talked with the matter of a batter's fear of facing a 100 mph fast ball. That brings up the tragic story of Tony Conigliaro, the Boston slugger whose career was never the same after he was hit in the head in 1967.

Tim has done a very thorough job of exploring the subject, and comes up with own answer to the question on the fastest ever. You are entitled to disagree. I'm confident that most people will find this a thorough yet easy read through a fun subject. "High Heat" would be a good addition to a baseball fan's library.

Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles
by Michael D'Antonio
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.32
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4.0 out of 5 stars Up the gap, December 23, 2015
It's a little difficult to believe that there has never been a good-sized biography written on the late Walter O'Malley, the now legendary owner of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. By any standard, this is an important figure in baseball history.

Michael D'Antonio fills the gap with "Forever Blue," a well-done accounting of O'Malley's life.

The story mostly centers on baseball, wisely enough, after getting the usual childhood stories out of the way in relatively brisk fashion. O'Malley worked his way from doing a some legal work for the Dodgers to a part-ownership stake, to full control of the franchise. In order to do that, you need a good amount of smarts -- smarts that are good in the board room as well as the streets. O'Malley certainly had that.

The centerpiece of the book is the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles in 1957, a transaction that some old-timers still can't forgive and forget about. It wasn't the first move by a professional franchise or even by a baseball team in the 20th century -- the latter distinction belongs to the Milwaukee Braves -- but it certainly was the most telling about the socioeconomic changes that were rippling through society at that time.

The Dodgers were playing in Ebbets Field at the time, adequate for the era in which it was built (1913). Brooklyn, had it been a city of its own instead of part of New York, would have been one of the largest municipalities in the country then. The stadium was surrounded by buildings, a cozy little park that was in someways quirky. Fenway Park in Boston was built around the same time, if that gets the point across.

But Brooklyn wouldn't be the same after World War II, as residents started fleeing toward the suburbs. If they wanted to see the Dodgers play, they'd have to drive in -- and parking at Ebbets Field was a major problem. Despite a team that always competed at the highest level, attendance suffered. The team was still making money, but the arrows were pointing in the wrong direction.

The book shows O'Malley to be something of a visionary on how the changes in the neighborhood would affect his business. D'Antonio had access to O'Malley's letters, and the Dodgers' owner spent years exploring options to place a new park somewhere in Brooklyn. The story has been told elsewhere -- Michael Shapiro did a particularly good job on it in "The Last Good Season" -- and New York City magnate Robert Moses again comes off as one of the heavies in the story that ended when the Dodgers packed up for Los Angeles.

Once arriving on the West Coast, though, O'Malley put together a model franchise for the era. He privately built Dodger Stadium, a spectacular success by any definition and one that still thrives today.

O'Malley hardly comes across here as the cliched sportsman/owner, someone who didn't mind losing money as he treated a baseball team like something of a hobby. But in D'Antonio's view, he was a very, very good businessman who usually took the long term view with the Dodgers.

There's plenty of romance associated with the old Dodgers (funny how no one seems to lament the loss of the Giants from New York, even if they moved at the same time), so their story is rather familiar. D'Antonio does a particularly good job, then, of reviewing the post-move era, when O'Malley's work wasn't quite done.

"Forever Blue" is the story of a complicated man who saw the future coming and acted accordingly. It's well worth a read, particularly for those who have a strong interest in the always fascinating subject.

Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson
Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson
by Rus Bradburd
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.22
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bend in the road, December 23, 2015
Sometimes a book can take a right turn to an entirely different direction, without the driver, er, author even putting on the turn signal.

Such is the case with "Forty Minutes of Hell," by Rus Bradburd, which has a big surprise for its readers part of the way through.

The book is a biography of Nolan Richardson, a name which will be very familiar to college basketball fans. Richardson is best known for his tenure as the head coach at Arkansas, where he had a good-sized run of success including a national championship in 1994.

Richardson looked to be set for life at Arkansas, until some bizarre circumstances led to his departure. What's more, Richardson never landed another coaching position -- a bit strange considering his track record. This makes him prime material for a biography.

Through the first part of the book, Bradburd covers the basics of Richardson's life in a simple, professional manner. The future coach grew up in El Paso, played at what was then known as Texas Western (now Texas El Paso or UTEP), and moved into coaching. After an apprenticeship, Richardson gained some fame for his work at Tulsa, where he won an NIT title as he revived the program there.

Then Richardson moves up the ladder to Arkansas, and the tenor of the book changes drastically. The focus on the book shifts from Richardson's life as a basketball coach to the experiences of this proud, fiery African-American as the head coach at a university in the Old South.

There were problems along the way, and Bradburd points the finger mostly at athletic director and former football coach Frank Broyles. Arkansas's record when it came to diversity, whether it be in the athletic department or in the administration and faculty, wasn't too good, and Richardson represented something of an attempt to start to change that -- even if the idea wasn't well-received by certain members of the school.

Broyles comes off as the biggest villain here. He was the coach of one of the last all-white college football teams in the country, and anecdotes indicate that, at best, he was a bit slow to embrace the new realities of the post-civil rights era. Indeed, the narrative spends a great deal of time following Broyles and Arkansas in the Sixties, which while interesting does slow the story down.

While the racial climate during Richardson's tenure is explored -- and it's certainly a big part of his story -- basketball is almost overlooked. "Forty Minutes of Hell" refers to Richardson's style of uptempo, pressing play for his teams. You'd think teams that went to the Final Four would be worthy of more than a few paragraphs each, but they aren't forthcoming.

The book moves more and more to Richardson's side as it goes along. By story's end he is "the most important African-American coach in history," which might be a stretch (I'd lean to John Thompson of Georgetown). Still, there is plenty of good research done here, enough to convince a reader that Richardson and Arkansas weren't going to live happily ever after. And suing his former university for damages was not a good way for Richardson to make himself attractive to future employers down the road.

It's easy to wonder if "Forty Minutes of Hell" would have worked even better if it had concentrated a little more on the Arkansas years, since that obviously was the portion that generated the most emotion out of Bradburd. But this is done well enough so that even those without Arkansas connections will be interested in finding out why Richardson's career never had a second act.

Been There, Done That
Been There, Done That
by Steve Ludzik
Edition: Paperback
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3.0 out of 5 stars A fourth-liner's story, December 23, 2015
This review is from: Been There, Done That (Paperback)
You never know what you might find when looking for sports books ... even when you are in a foreign country.

That deserves an explanation.

While attending a large used-book sale in Niagara Falls, Ont., a while back, I came across a book written by former NHL player and coach Steve Ludzik. I had never heard that he had written a book, but I'm interested any time a Sabre writes a book - even if his stay was a brief one. Besides, Ludzik's roots in Niagara Falls run deep. This copy was only a Canadian dollar, and it came personally autographed. So, Andrew, whoever you are, you should be happy that the book found a good home the second time around.

As for "Been There Done That," it's certainly a comprehensive look back at Ludzik's career. It checks in at almost 350 pages, and hockey is on every one of them. He promises that it's the most honest hockey book ever written, and the stories he tells here do come across as authentic. It's not the story of a star, at least in the sport's highest level.

Ludzik grew up in Ontario and played junior hockey there. He had the good sense to become pals with Steve Larmer, who went on to become one of the best goal-scorers of his era. Ludzik spent three years with the Niagara Falls Flyers, racking up 50 goals and 142 points in his last season - 1980-81. He played for one of the legendary coaches in junior history in Bert Templeton, who had some, um, unusual methods. Let's say he wouldn't like today's era where he couldn't be in total control.

Ludzik was drafted in the second round by Chicago, and discovered someone waiting for him there - Denis Savard. Hockey fans know what that means - Ludzik's days as a big scorer were over. He wouldn't play on top lines or the power play with Savard, a future Hall of Famer around. Ludzik adapted, becoming a pest - working hard, staying on the edge of playing dirty. Sometimes he might have been over that line. But even general manager Bob Pulford said you knew what you'd get out of him, and you got it every night. Ludzik became well known, as these things go, for trying to slow Wayne Gretzky. No, he didn't have too much luck at it either.

Ludzik did pick up another interesting coach in Orval Tessier. The two started together in the minors and moved up to the Blackhawks together. Tessier had his quirks too, but did some things right in leading the Hawks to the division title in his first year. He was gone by the middle of year three, and never got another chance. It's a tough business.

Ludzik lasted for most of the 1980s with Chicago, and then was traded to Buffalo - where he became a spare part, stashed in the minors until needed because of injuries. But Ludzik was pretty battered by that time, and was out of hockey after a year in Europe. From there it was on to coaching, working his way up the ladder until he got to Tampa Bay with the Lightning. Ludzik didn't have much talent there, but he and executive Rick Dudley did do some good foundation work on a team that eventually won a Stanley Cup.

That's the bio - good to know when considering a read on someone like this. But how well is it done? The easiest answer is that it gets better as it goes along.

Early portions of the book are devoted to pranks and practical jokes to go with fighters and fights. You can always count on the tough guys for odd behavior, especially at the young levels of play. Tastes differ about how such stories go over, so be warned. There's an explicit language label on the back cover, and it's fair to say it is needed. No need for the younger kiddies to learn some new words.

Once we arrive in the NHL, though, things pick up. Some of the names become more familiar, and there are still a few laughs. As for his coaching days, Ludzik was never blessed with too much talent on his rosters. The problems of trying to coach some mediocre players come out pretty nicely here.

Two other points to make - this looks to be self-published. It probably could have been put together a little better. Hyphens seem to have disappeared from the text at times, and the story is a bit disorganized. At least factual errors are kept to a minimum - Dennis, and not Denis, Potvin popped up. It happens.

And, Ludzik revealed two years after publication that he has had Parkinson's Disease since 2000 or so, and is suing the league for medical problems resulting from concussion issues. Sounds like he might have a better, fuller story to tell now.

The 2010 version, though, is what we have, and "Been There, Done That" serves a nice reminder of some good times for Ludzik and his friends. The book is now out of print, so look for it at a used book sale near you.

The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect's Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life
The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect's Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life
by Dirk Hayhurst
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.20
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Down on the farm, December 20, 2015
The most interesting point about "The Bullpen Gospels" is its perspective. Chances are good that there hasn't ever been a baseball book written from this point of view.

Author Dirk Hayhurst, as of 2006-2007, is a minor league pitcher. And not a particularly good one. Hayhurst has been bouncing around the San Diego Padres' system for a few years at this point in his career. He's been in Triple-A for about an hour and a half, but mostly he has bounced from High A ball to Double-A and back. Hayhurst has been around long enough to know that it doesn't take long to go from prospect to suspect in the game of baseball, and front-office types don't wait long to fall in love with the Next Young Thing.

There have been a few minor league books over the years, and it's difficult to make the story too compelling. Hayhurst is a good enough writer to get over that hurdle. That's because in part he's so honest with himself and the reader. At this point he has plenty of doubt whether he'll ever make it, whether he's wasting his time playing a game instead of getting on with the rest of his life.

He's also honest about the rest of his life, which has some of the most gripping details in the book. His father back in Ohio has disabilities, while his brother is an alcoholic. That forces his to flee in the offseasons to his odd grandmother's house, where he sleeps on a mattress in the basement. Yup, a glamorous life.

It turns out to be a relatively dramatic year in Hayhurst's professional career. He is unexpectedly assigned to A ball again, not a good sign after a few years in the minors. But he comes to terms with his situation and fights his way up to Double-A again, pitching relatively well most of the time. Hayhurst learns to be put some demons behind him along the way, preparing himself for better times ahead.

It's easy to root for him along the way, in part because he comes across as thoughtful and a good person. (A couple of anecdotes in particular, which I won't spoil, illustrate that fact nicely.) The fact that the stories were three years old at the time the book was released, surprisingly, don't even get the way, because the issues are pretty timeless. Still, this is an interesting book rather than an excellent one for a couple of reasons.

One, this does read like a series of diary entries without a great deal of flow. Yes, the season is certainly passing along, but the book's episodic nature really make it tough to connect some of the dots.

Two, there's are good-sized stretches of the book that recount some of the conversations that take place among team members as the season goes by. Now, these are young 20-somethings with lots of spare time, so you can imagine that they don't exactly sit around and discuss whether Thomas Jefferson's concept of the yeoman farmer is relevant in today's post-industrial society. Sex and baseball dominate, usually in profane terms. It may be a sign of my old age, but I didn't find those portions particularly funny or interesting -- while not doubting the authenticity for a moment. Your reaction may differ.

"The Bullpen Gospels," then, offers lots of insight in the mind of a minor-league pitcher. You'll root for him, and be pleasantly surprised by the happy ending -- in a couple of ways -- at the end of the book. (And if you like ballplayer humor, give this another star.)

Baseball Prospectus 2010
Baseball Prospectus 2010
by Baseball Prospectus
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.95
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding series, December 20, 2015
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Not much has changed in Prospectus Land. The smart guys that put this together every year still do an incredibly comprehensive job of surveying the baseball landscape. They've studied the game from all sorts of angles, and have strong opinions on just about all of it.

The format remained more or less the same in 15 years. Each team receives about 20 pages, giving the book the look of a medium-sized city's phone book. Two or three pages is devoted to a overview of the particular team's fortunes. Since all sorts of uncredited writers do the work here, some previews are better than others. But the reader does get an idea about what went right or wrong in 2009, and what's ahead in 2010. For example, the Mariners made a strong commitment to defense in 2009 and made a huge jump forward, while the Orioles are finally showing signs of life due to a rebirth in their farm system.

Then it's on to the player descriptions. Every player of consequence has his stats (including some ones you might not know) from the past reviewed, followed by projections for 2010, and a paragraph on his past, present and future. The writing is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and at times breathtakingly honest. But where else will you read that a particular player might peak as a backup infielder if he's lucky, or that it may be time for him to start thinking about a new line of work?

As usual, there are plenty of numbers here, as the reader jumps into the land of VORP, WARP, BABIP and EqAVG. While they are explained in the front of the book, it's a little tough to follow the description unless you are very familiar with the authors' work (they have a Web site,, as well). They even have some new ones this time around. But it doesn't really get in the way most of the time -- it's easy to skip over the parts that you don't understand. Me, I tend to glance at VORP. Anything in double digits is good, negative numbers are a sign of a ticket to Palookaville, and Albert Pujols had a rating of 92.6 last year -- so the stat is getting something right.

Some fantasy players pick up this book for the projections, but it's not really written with those fans in line. It's more of a reference book for following the season. I go through the book by reading the team descriptions and player charts of those who spent some time in the majors last year. Then it goes back on the shelf, ready to be pulled out for a televised game or when a trade involving my favorite teams is completed.

Bill James used to have the field to himself when it came to intelligent preseason analysis with his Abstracts of the 1980's. It took a while, but the Baseball Prospectus has come along and taken that direction in many new directions. If you are a serious fan of baseball, you should be reading "Baseball Prospectus." Heck, you probably have been for years.

Kiss 'Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of Failed, Forgotten, and Departed Teams
Kiss 'Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of Failed, Forgotten, and Departed Teams
by Dennis Purdy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.79
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too many facts, not enough fun, December 19, 2015
"Kiss 'Em Goodbye" is billed on the back cover as a "fascinating, hilarious, page-turning celebration" of defunct teams.

In actuality, it's not too fascinating. It's not the least bit funny. But it is page-turning, because I couldn't wait to get through it and move to the next book.

Author Dennis Purdy has put together a rather strange collection of mini-histories of teams that aren't with us any more. That should be a rich source of fun reading, because strange things happen to sports teams -- particularly the ones who disappear. But it falls quite short.

A few things go wrong here. There are more than 80 teams represented here, spread over 360 pages. That's a lot of teams if you aren't writing an encyclopedia, and this doesn't qualify. A little editing to get the number of pages under 300 would have been helpful.

The selection of teams is also a little strange. A great many of the teams come from 19th century baseball. The stories start to read the same way after a while at least in the broad reasons for their demise. They run out of money, lose a bunch of games, and fold.

The early days of the National Football League are well represented here as well, and it's a similar story to the baseball teams. The chapter on the Tonawanda Kardex, a team that lasted one game in the NFL, may have been fun because of the odd circumstances. Otherwise, it just became tough for the small towns to go up against the big cities. So it was farewell, Portsmouth Spartans and Providence Steam Roller.

Minor league baseball teams in the Los Angeles area and in San Francisco are covered for some reason -- think you can guess why they went out of business in 1957? Teams such as the New York Giants baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, old Washington Senators, and Los Angeles Rams are reviewed, even though their stories are pretty well known.

If it sounds like this concentrates on baseball and football, you're right, even though the unmentioned teams from the World Football League and United States Football League have some great stories associated with their failures. Then there's basketball and hockey. You probably could write a book on all of the exploits of the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis; then-play-by-play man Bob Costas probably could write a few chapters himself on describing the play of Marvin Barnes and Fly Williams. At least Purdy does hit a World Team Tennis and a women's softball team, although he does get the name of the San Francisco Bay Bombers of roller derby fame wrong (what would Joanie Weston say to that?).

No matter what is being written about here, it comes off very dry. As an example, there are all sorts of stories about the 1969 Seattle Pilots, and most of them come because Jim Bouton wrote a book about his time there called "Ball Four." A generation came to associate team and book; you'd think it would warrant a mention. Or how about the Kansas City A's under Charlie O. Finley? This is an owner who built a temporary right field fence in his stadium to copy the dimensions of Yankee Stadium, only to have the idea outlawed by the league.

For those looking for a short history of the Cincinnati Porkers of the American Association (1891) and other such teams, "Kiss 'Em Goodbye" will serve that purpose. The research seems more than adequate. It's just too bad that the whole project wasn't done with a bit more flair.

Doc: The Rise and Rise of Julius Erving
Doc: The Rise and Rise of Julius Erving
by Vincent M. Mallozzi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.43
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2.0 out of 5 stars Accentuate the positive, December 18, 2015
To sum this up in one word -- gush.

Vincent Mallozzi's biography of Julius Erving, "Doc," is a rather stunningly uninsightful look at someone who should have been a fascinating subject for a biography.

And it takes less than a chapter to find out the reason why. Mallozzi, a reporter for the New York Times, grew up idolizing the fabulous Dr. J, and jumped into this project with enthusiasm. But he didn't carry any objectivity with him, and after a while the hero worship just wears the reader down.

Erving probably has turned into something of an underrated superstar in some basketball history circles. He came out of Long Island to play for the Univesity of Massachusetts, where he blossomed into a college standout. But, UMass wasn't exactly a place to get noticed in those days, even though it became obvious pretty quickly that Erving could play on any court in the world and hold his own.

After his junior year, Erving jumped to the professional ranks, which was unusual at that time. He signed with the ABA's Virginia Squires, which wasn't exactly "America's Team" back then either. He then went on to the New York Nets where he led the team to a couple of championships.

Erving's time in the ABA is the key to his story. When he was at his best in that part of his career, when he did soar with the birds, few were watching. The league didn't have a national television contract, and highlights were shown anywhere in those pre-ESPN days. So he became something of a legend, one that many had discussed but few had seen on a national level. Was he the last superstar to meet that description? Maybe.

Erving's mere presence certainly helped drive the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, but Erving got into a contract dispute and was traded to Philadelphia. There he didn't quite sore as high as often, but was still mighty good -- good enough to lead the Sixers to one NBA title and two other appearances in the Finals. Mallozzi even rips into a Sports Illustrated writer (only called "Taylor" in a typo) for daring to suggest that Erving's game in the NBA didn't match his ABA play -- even though others in the book make essentially the same point.

You think this book would be filled with descriptions of memorable games and great plays in big situations, but it really isn't. Whole seasons go by in just a few paragraphs. The 1977 Final against Portland was practically an opera -- the overly talented Sixers, with plenty of stars but only one ball, vs. the Blazers, with Bill Walton and a brilliant supporting cast that was underrated by most. It gets less than four pages in the book. The author also makes a few factual obvious errors along the way in the text.

What, then, fills up the pages if basketball doesn't do it? Tributes to the Doctor. Long, glowing tributes from friends, coaches, opponents and teammates, dating back to his school days. By any standard, all of them seem to be deserved. Erving was a winner who wasn't selfish, carried himself with class on the court, and was great with fans. Dunking didn't begin with Michael Jordan, oh young fans.

Erving's basketball career ends on page 187, and the book goes on to page 278. What could fill it? A few more tributes, as you'd expect, and some details of Erving's life since retirement from basketball. To be fair, Mallozzi does cover the details of Erving's illegitimate children. Well, no one thought Tiger Woods invented bad behavior by athletes.

In the end, Mallozzi writes that "this entire book is basically a giant Valentine from one of his biggest fans." He later adds, "My only hope is that he enjoys this book as much as I enjoyed writing it."

Maybe the next book will be written for its readers, instead of the Good Doctor. "Doc" doesn't measure up.

Amaze Your Friends: A Paranormal  (or Not?) Mini-Mystery
Amaze Your Friends: A Paranormal (or Not?) Mini-Mystery
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars To the point, August 18, 2015
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Close to 50 years went by in my head while reading "Amaze Your Friends." I was suddenly back in elementary school, spending my hard-earned dollars (I think about five) for a very small camera advertised in a comic book or some similar publication. As I recall, I took some pictures, the drug story attendant shook his head when asked if anything came out, and the tiny (and it was tiny) headed for the drawer, and then the trash.

That type of product takes a bow in "Amaze Your Friends," a short story that goes in some unexpected directions. A law enforcement official never knows where a lead might take him, but this time is indeed a little spooky.

This really is a short story, as in it takes no time at all to zip through. But Solimini always has known how to put a sentence together, and she's obviously having a bit of fun here. The e-book format is great for it, even if I can't leave it on my bookcase to amaze my friends.

Short stories are the fast food of books, and this effort was pretty tasty.

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