Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bleachers by Grisham, Koufax: a lefty's legacy by Leavy, and Ten Rings by Berra

Just wanted to recommend some  books for one who enjoys reading about sports.  Bleachers by John Grisham is a fun read about high school football that I thought captured the essence of a typical "Lombardi" type coach.  I won't be surprised if it becomes a movie...It is practically a fantasy about a player who courageously opposes and stands up to his coach.

Koufax- A lefty's legacy by Jane Leavy is a book that has a great inning by inning description of Koufax's perfect game against the cubs in '63.  Koufax himself comes off with good human qualities and is clearly a modest individual.  She calls him a "mensch".  
          I did not like this biography because it was mostly hero worship and made Koufax more than he is.  Although he was for 5 years the best pitcher ever and did not play on Yom Kippur which rightly and forever enshrined him in the hearts of American Jewry, there was no religious conviction in his decision.  He said he refrained from playing 'out of respect'. I suspect that possibly the result of his upbringing in Borough Park Brooklyn, a Jewish cultural heritage was just difficult to break. He made no significant contributions to the Jewish community, and resented his status as a Jewish hero for years.  The book reveals that he married out of the faith twice, and wanted to be remembered as an athlete without the Jewish adjective.  

NY Yankee great, Yogi Berra wrote a memoir about his ten championship seasons called Ten Rings.  It was a fun read about the late forties and the decade of the 50's;  an era of great baseball talent.  Berra comes off affable, very modest, self effacing and very funny. The book brings out Berra's wit, his talent for negotiating a contract and his personal sensitivity in handling different pitchers and different situations. I forgot that he was such a great ballplayer!

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