Sunday, September 6, 2009

Browsing my library

I take a lot of pride in my collection of baseball books. I've tried to develop a solid research library and feel like I have done so. I've got a lot of breadth (my biggest holes are umpires and women in baseball) and a lot of depth (minor leagues, Negro Leagues and Deadball Era are pretty strong). But since I keep it as a research library, I don't necessarily read everything and thus do not share it.

I decided that I'm going to try and feature a book from my collection. Maybe every week, we'll have to see. Part of this comes as a result of a research collection development course I just took as part of my degree. I learned a lot about developing a collection and determining the strength of a collection. Because we were to keep our assignments manageable, I did not do my assignments on baseball (because the literature is too vast and the cataloging of baseball books is so inane as to make identifying subgroups difficult). Nonetheless, for my final assignment, I wrote about my library and took a look at some of my favorite books. Granted, baseball is not a "scholarly" field to a lot of libraries and so they don't develop vast baseball collections but for a huge number of the books in my library, you'd find only 4-5 libraries in the world possessing these books (the Hall of Fame Library of course being one of them, although they didn't have some of the books I do). I just thought that was cool and would make sharing what I have sort of interesting.

But I can't just pick a book. I have to do it randomly. Sort of. I randomly selected five books from my database and then chose the one of the five I feel like featuring.

For the first one we'll look at Gene Fehler's poetry collection, Center Field Grasses. I actually have tried to develop a decent collection of baseball poetry. Fehler's book is one of them. Doodle even used this book for a 3rd grade assignment last year when he needed to bring in a poem for class.

Fehler writes some good stuff. Some of it is original but in some of it he likes to take well-known poems and convert them to baseball. For example, here is a modified version of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (one of my favorite poems) entitled Grabbing an Illegal Bat at Yankee Stadium.

Whose bat this is I think I know.
It's caked with pine tar high and low.
The Goose is shivering with fear
To think how far the ball might go.

I'll wait until defeat is near
And then I'll suddenly appear
To make those foolish umpires take
Away the win K.C. earned here.

So what if George Brett's heart will break?
The pennant race is still at stake.
And though my tactics might seem cheap,
I'm out to win, make no mistake.

The pine tar's lovely, dark and deep
Enough to make the Royals weep.
This victory is ours to keep,
This victory is ours to keep.

That, of course, was EXACTLY what was going through Billy Martin's head during the infamous Pine Tar Game.

Fun book of baseball poetry in the old style cloth hardbound books with no dust jacket McFarland's used to put out. How I miss them. It pains me to see them charge $45 for a softcover book now. C'mon McFarland, go retro!

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