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Tuesday
Jun132017

Book Review: White Sox (and other baseball worth mentioning) for Women

White Sox (and other baseball worth mentioning) for Women. JoAnn Fastoff. Perfect Paperback, 2017, glossy trade paperback, 109 pages.

Reviewed by Dennis Hetzel.

“Baseball is an example in its purest form of nine individuals making a team effort,” JoAnn Fastoff writes in the opening pages of White Sox (and other baseball worth mentioning) for Women. Her love of America’s game shines through, and you can be any gender to enjoy it. 

To some extent, the organization and premise of the book—helping female fans learn more about baseball in general and the White Sox in particular—do not do justice to the richness of the content.

For example, Fastoff goes beyond the White Sox to introduce readers to female and Negro League ball players with fascinating stories to tell. She has used her passion for the White Sox and America’s game to bring some important and interesting players in the nation’s social history to life.

Effa Louise Manley was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. She co-owned the Negro League Newark Eagles. Raised by a black stepfather and white mother, she also was active in the civil rights movement and a social activist. We also meet the first woman to play professionally in a man’s league. Tonie “Tomboy” Stone played second base for the Negro League Indianapolis Clowns. She had to deal with insults as both a woman and an African-American.

For Sox fans, the book is a treasure trove. The author doesn’t just write about the stars either, introducing players who would make great trivia questions, such as Dwayne Wise. As Fastoff writes, Wise “entered the White Sox game in the top of the ninth inning against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and saved Mark Buehrle’s perfect game by leaping over the wall to make a spectacular catch.”

Among the greats, consider Ted Lyons, who pitched all 21 seasons of his career with the White Sox, from the 1920s through the 1940s. Any baseball fan loves trivia like the following tidbit: “Manager Jimmy Dykes realized Lyons was a crowd pleaser and started using him only on Sundays, hence the moniker ‘Sunday Teddy’.” In his last full season, Lyons had 2.10 earned run average and completed each of his 20 starts, something unimaginable in baseball today.

Fastoff even takes a brief tour of White Sox logos over the year, noting the Sox have changed their logo 18 times, reminding us just how ugly the disco-era Sox logo and uniforms were. It would have been fun to see all 18 logos instead of just three.

Fastoff also looks back on broadcasters who shouldn’t be forgotten, including Harry Caray. Those who weren’t in Chicago when Caray was broadcasting Sox games missed hearing him at his most outrageous. As Fastoff writes, “He quickly became popular with the South Side faithful, even though he wasn’t always so popular with the players.”

Somewhat surprising was only a single, passing reference to Bill Veeck, surely the most colorful and interesting team owner in baseball history. Still, baseball is about the players, and Sox fans will read about everyone from Shoeless Joe Jackson to Luis Aparicio to “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas and many more.

The book has some scattered editing and organization issues. The opening chapters function as a “baseball for dummies” primer on the rules of the game aimed at a female audience. This material is so basic that any reader with a deeper understanding of the game will skip those sections and perhaps dismiss the book entirely. A table of contents detailing specific chapters would help readers understand that there is a lot more to the book than that.

The book also lacks photo credits and attribution of information. The author may have taken many of the photos herself, but others obviously are from other sources. Direct quotes and historical references also are unattributed. An appendix listing credits and sources would provide acknowledgment where it’s due. It also would help readers and researchers who want to delve deeper into the lives of the many interesting people who populate the pages of this entertaining book.

 

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