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Jody Rosen’s Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle is not an “early conception to modern-day racing and e-bikes” type of history book. How could it be? For Rosen, the bicycle is “the realization of a wish as ancient as the dream of flight.”

The history here emerges from the edges of the byways that Rosen follows in pursuit of his next ride. In one chapter, he manages to humiliate himself in front of the dazzling trick cyclist Danny MacAskill while on a mountain bike ride in Scotland, which leads to a brief, engaging history of stunt bicycling. In another chapter, Rosen writes about going to Bhutan to participate in a one-day, 166.5-mile road race, reputed to be the most difficult bike race in the world. He does not finish and does not, as he had hoped, meet Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the country’s fourth “dragon king,” who abdicated the throne in part to pursue his interest in mountain biking.

What develops out of these entertaining chapters is a story of the bicycle as a great disrupter. It was pedaless in its earliest form, like an adult-size Strider. In the 1700s, it became the plaything of dandies such as foppish Prince George of England, who offended the earthbound populace just as some lycra-clad weekend bike warriors do today. Later bicycles were decried by cart drivers and horse riders for disrupting the flow of traffic—but by World War I, bicycles were replacing horse cavalry in some battles. National bicycle organizations led the movement to grade and pave the roads motorists now believe are for their exclusive use. During the pandemic, stationary bikes “merged the old-fashioned act of bicycling with that quintessential twenty-first-century experience: staring at a screen.”

Bicycles also gave women greater freedom. One amusing chapter quotes 1890s newspaper editorials about the immorality and—gasp—implicit sexuality of bike riding. Girls and young women could pedal on their own, by themselves, away from the surveilling gazes of parents and community. Worse, they left their dresses behind and wore pantaloons!

In a chapter about his own bicycling experiences, Rosen says he’s not a gear head. “To this day, I can barely patch an inner tube,” he writes. But he is crazy about bicycles—“If the pedals turn, I’ll ride it”—and that love shines through in these pages. In fact, it glows so brightly that even a confirmed nonrider may give in to the urge to make her next grocery run on an e-bike.

Jody Rosen’s love of bikes shines through in this amusing, unconventional history of the bicycle as a great cultural disrupter.
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Batter up There are several schools of baseball. One follows numbers, the statistics that drive the game and rivet baseball fans. Another dwells on nostalgia, a sense that things were better, purer in the “old days.” Then there are those like Robert Benson, who take an almost spiritual approach, honoring the game as a precious legacy to be passed from one generation to the next.

In The Game: One Man, Nine Innings: A Love Affair With Baseball, Benson combines several perspectives: those of a writer, a father and, of course, a baseball fan. One can imagine accompanying the author to his game of choice, a rather ordinary minor league affair between the Iowa Cubs and the Nashville Sounds, as he sits back during the course of nine innings to ruminate on myriad topics. With writing that is both spare and reverential, Benson compares the plays of a game with the joys and sorrows of day-to-day living. He notes that “baseball is a game of routine things.” In the minor league game he chronicles, “Of the fifty-one outs, only three or four of them came on great plays, or even above average plays.” The Game will be categorized as a sports book, but like baseball itself, it’s a metaphor for life. Sometimes you hit a home run; sometimes you make an error. As the game winds down, the author hopes his children will one day recall the important life lessons it offers: “I wish for them that they will remember that there will be days when the best that can be done is to move the runner . . . that even the best of us . . . strike out a fair amount.”

Batter up There are several schools of baseball. One follows numbers, the statistics that drive the game and rivet baseball fans. Another dwells on nostalgia, a sense that things were better, purer in the “old days.” Then there are those like Robert Benson, who take an almost spiritual approach, honoring the game as a precious […]
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ball legend’s daughter pitches father’s fundamental ideals to kids In baseball, the ideal number is nine. There are nine innings, nine players and 90 feet between bases. It should be no surprise that Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary baseball hero and American icon Jackie Robinson, chooses that special number to celebrate the values her father exemplified in his daily life in her new book, Jackie’s Nine.

Raised in suburban Connecticut, Robinson was only six years old when her father retired from baseball and just 12 when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Growing up, she never fully realized the importance of having a father who was known worldwide for breaking the color barrier in baseball. Instead, she saw him for what he was to her, a soft-spoken giant who practiced courage, determination, commitment, persistence, integrity, justice, teamwork, citizenship and excellence every day of his life. Robinson attributes her father’s success to these nine values and believes that by sharing these fundamental ideals with the young people of the world, she can help them overcome obstacles.

And share she does. Robinson, director of educational programming for Major League Baseball, has spent the last four years creating and managing MLB’s national character education initiative, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, a program designed to empower students with strategies to help them deal with the challenges they face, day in and day out. A former nurse-midwife and educator who has taught at such prestigious universities as Yale, Columbia and Georgetown, Robinson has created an entire curriculum that allows teachers to apply baseball concepts to the academics and social skills they teach. “It gives us a chance to show that learning can be fun and not torturous,” says Robinson. “If we can get them to enjoy what they’re doing, then they will want to learn.” But school curriculum building is not the only aspect of Breaking Barriers. Each year, Robinson heads up an essay contest. The winning students are not only honored during a Major League Baseball game (a once-in-a-lifetime event in itself!), but Robinson also brings the real-life baseball greats to their schools. From April to June, Robinson visits 22 schools throughout the nation, baseball stars in tow. Players such as Jose Cruz and Ken Griffey, Jr., are not on hand just to sign autographs, they are there to share their tales of triumph over adversity. Whether it’s facing down the league’s toughest pitcher, overcoming injuries and physical deformities, working together with their teammates or striving for excellence in their own game, each player highlights the values that Jackie Robinson, the hero himself, exemplified.

The program targets students 9-14 years old. “Kids are going from junior high where parents have a lot of control to high school where peers have the majority of control,” Robinson explains. She firmly believes that this is the age group where buying into fundamental values will make a positive, significant impact on a child’s future. In Jackie’s Nine, Robinson shows that even the mightiest, successful men and women in history have had to overcome obstacles. Each chapter highlights one of the nine values with stories about heroes, sheroes and icons like Michael Jordan, Christopher Reeve and Oprah Winfrey. A book packed with big names and classic photos, this is not a “celebrity book.” Robinson writes comfortably on the preteen/teen level, demonstrating that throughout a person’s challenges and adversities, it is the values they maintain that matters the most.

One of the most important values to Robinson herself is citizenship. “I use the term citizenship, instead of sportsmanship or respect,” she explains, “because I want them to understand that they are part of a larger world. It’s not just an idea of treating your mother and father with respect, but of understanding that you have some responsibility in the world.” Robinson understands this concept wholeheartedly. Her Breaking Barriers program has reached over one million children across the United States and Canada, and Jackie’s Nine will, no doubt, reach many more.

Heidi Henneman claims to be a Yankees fan these days, but her first love is still the Chicago Cubs, the team she grew up watching with her Grandma in Illinois.

ball legend’s daughter pitches father’s fundamental ideals to kids In baseball, the ideal number is nine. There are nine innings, nine players and 90 feet between bases. It should be no surprise that Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary baseball hero and American icon Jackie Robinson, chooses that special number to celebrate the values her father […]
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In 1938, a single, legendary figure stole the national spotlight from FDR, Hitler and Mussolini. The figure in question was not human. He was a thoroughbred racehorse named Seabiscuit. The short, bandy-legged horse who against all odds showed the speed, strength and heart necessary to succeed in the sport of kings, Seabiscuit attracted massive crowds to his races throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Laura Hillenbrand’s fascinating and well-researched book Seabiscuit: An American Legend tells the story of this underdog, giving an old legend new life.

While providing an authoritative account of the horse’s storied career, Hillenbrand focuses on the men and women who helped Seabiscuit become a champion. She writes about Red Pollard, dubbed "The Cougar," the jockey who repeatedly piloted Seabiscuit to victory, even riding races on a previously shattered leg. George Woolf, whose statue stands near Seabiscuit’s at the Santa Anita racetrack, and who rode the horse when Pollard’s injuries prevented him, also comes to life here. Woolf was a notoriously flamboyant figure around the racetrack, and Hillenbrand includes the most beguiling stories about his life.

As horses go, Seabiscuit was as idiosyncratic as they come, with an appetite and a predisposition for sleep that were as legendary as his unlikely short-legged build. Hillenbrand tells of him resting on his side in a train car and whinnying for food when his trainer put him on a diet. Yet even some of his early keepers could feel the promise in him; as Hillenbrand reports, one saw "something in Seabiscuit’s demeanor perhaps a conspicuous lack of sweating in his workouts, perhaps a gleam in the horse’s eye that hinted at devious intelligence."

The knowledge of horses Hillenbrand amassed as a writer for Equus magazine shows in her descriptions of Seabiscuit’s injuries and gaits. Her panoramic descriptions of the characters that surrounded the racehorse and her ability to bring a past era vividly to life make this narrative succeed. Describing Seabiscuit’s loss to Stagehand in a photo finish, Hillenbrand writes about how horse and owner handled the news: "Howard looked at Seabiscuit. The horse’s head was high and light played in his eyes. He didn’t know he had lost. Howard felt confidence swell in him again. " ‘We’ll try again,’ he said. ‘Next time we’ll win it.’ "

Eliza R.L. McGraw lives and writes in Cabin John, Maryland.

 

In 1938, a single, legendary figure stole the national spotlight from FDR, Hitler and Mussolini. The figure in question was not human. He was a thoroughbred racehorse named Seabiscuit. The short, bandy-legged horse who against all odds showed the speed, strength and heart necessary to succeed in the sport of kings, Seabiscuit attracted massive crowds […]
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For a fun look at the more recent past, there’s Phil Pepe’s Talkin’ Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s. Through interviews with more than 60 former players, managers, and others associated with the game, Pepe recounts the events of a decade which saw some of the most enormous changes in the history of the game, including the advent of free agency and the designated hitter, a new home run king, and George Steinbrenner.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

For a fun look at the more recent past, there’s Phil Pepe’s Talkin’ Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s. Through interviews with more than 60 former players, managers, and others associated with the game, Pepe recounts the events of a decade which saw some of the most enormous changes in the history […]
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Once you’re done dealing with the present, it’s time to take a look at the game’s glorious past. It has often been said that, more than any other sport, the history and tradition of baseball lends itself to the written word. And perhaps no one exemplifies those attributes more than Babe Ruth. Lawrence Ritter, author of the classic oral history The Glory of Their Times, and Mark Rucker, considered one of the games’ greatest pictorial archivists, have assembled The Babe: The Game That Ruth Built. Through prose and pictures, this handsome volume marks the 50th anniversary of the Babe’s passing. It’s a sentimental look at the man who some say saved baseball in the wake of the 1919 world series gambling scandal and the dark days of the Depression. The photographs some rare, others familiar offer a glimpse of the Babe not only as the most legendary figure in sports, but also as a father, husband and friend. Beloved by millions all over the world, the snapshots of Ruth in Japan, surrounded by adoring children, are evidence of this global homage.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

Once you’re done dealing with the present, it’s time to take a look at the game’s glorious past. It has often been said that, more than any other sport, the history and tradition of baseball lends itself to the written word. And perhaps no one exemplifies those attributes more than Babe Ruth. Lawrence Ritter, author […]
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At the other end of fandom, there’s Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans: Understanding and Interpreting the Game So You Can Watch it Like a Pro, (written with Danny Peary). McCarver, who appears on New York Mets and FOX telecasts, is another former star who has become one of the game’s foremost commentators and analysts. Where Dummies spends more time on the rudiments of the game, McCarver and Peary delve deeper into strategy and nuance. This is perhaps the best book I’ve ever encountered to understand how a pitcher decides what to throw; what goes through a hitter’s mind as he steps into the batter’s box with the game on the line; how an outfielder positions himself; or how a speedy runner uses his savvy to know when not to steal a base. Readers will be nodding their heads and saying “Ahhh. So that’s how (and why) they do that.” McCarver offers plenty of examples and anecdotes drawn from nearly 40 years of experience. Those who prefer watching the game from the comfort of their living rooms will find a new appreciation for television broadcasts as McCarver explains how the director puts the action together, what he looks for, and what is not seen on the screen.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

At the other end of fandom, there’s Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans: Understanding and Interpreting the Game So You Can Watch it Like a Pro, (written with Danny Peary). McCarver, who appears on New York Mets and FOX telecasts, is another former star who has become one of the game’s foremost […]
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Those who aren’t up on their game needn’t feel embarrassed. Baseball For Dummies can bring even the most horsehide-impaired up to speed. (But there’s plenty to entertain veteran fans as well.) Joe Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman, now an analyst for ESPN games, teams up with Richard Lally for this volume of everything you would want to know about baseball (but were too chagrined to ask). Want detailed instructions on how to play the game yourself? It’s here. So is a study of each major league stadium, with suggestions on where to sit to maximize your chances of catching a foul ball.

For many aficionados, statistics are the lifeblood of their enjoyment, so the authors have included a section on how to calculate those batting percentages and earned run averages.

And lest anyone forget that the pro game is not just played in the U.

S. and Canada, Baseball For Dummies reminds us that there’s a great big baseball world out there, and includes discussion on the sport as it’s played in Asia, Australia, and South America.

Morgan and Lally aren’t shy about offering expert opinion as they select their ten greatest players, past, present, and future; they also choose the records they believe are least likely to be broken and the events that transformed the game. Readers may find these lists subjective, but such arguments are part of the fun, part of what being a fan is all about. The appendix offers a glossary of baseball terms, a plethora of records (always welcome by trivia buffs), and a list of contacts for information on just about every aspect of the game, from T-ball to senior leagues, from professional leagues to team Web sites.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

Those who aren’t up on their game needn’t feel embarrassed. Baseball For Dummies can bring even the most horsehide-impaired up to speed. (But there’s plenty to entertain veteran fans as well.) Joe Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman, now an analyst for ESPN games, teams up with Richard Lally for this volume of everything […]
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In the words of that great philosopher Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over Ôtil it’s over.” So this article can’t conclude without mentioning The Yogi Book. He wants to make one thing perfectly clear. Well, perhaps not perfectly, but he does want to address the misconceptions regarding many of the quotes attributed to him throughout his long and colorful career. Known as “Yogi-isms,” many of these aphorisms have woven themselves into folk-lore stature. Yogi freely admits that some were simply syntactical errors, but if you look under the surface they make a lot of sense.

Take his signature phrase. Viewed in a strictly baseball context, it’s absolutely true. How often has a team been behind late in a game, only to come back from the brink of defeat? From a technical standpoint, it’s accurate as well: a thing is not over until it is over. It’s a phrase worthy of Candide.

Surely there are other ballplayers, as well as us regular folk, who have made similar verbal gaffes, but somehow the amiable Mr. Berra is the leader of the pack.

So whether you’re a “dummy” or a “brain surgeon” regarding baseball, there’s a book out there for whatever your special interest. Step up to the plate, dig in, and enjoy.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

In the words of that great philosopher Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over Ôtil it’s over.” So this article can’t conclude without mentioning The Yogi Book. He wants to make one thing perfectly clear. Well, perhaps not perfectly, but he does want to address the misconceptions regarding many of the quotes attributed to him throughout his […]
Review by

he mix is the message Sourcebooks was not the first trade publisher to package audio CDs, photos, and text into a mixed-media package the publisher of an instructional guitar manual takes that honor but it certainly has been the most successful.

Sourcebooks’ first mixed-media book, We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner, sold an astonishing 600,000 copies, catapulting it onto the bestseller lists in 1998. A second mix-media book documenting famous events in sports, And the Crowd Goes Wild, also by Joe Garner, has sold over 500,000 copies since it was published last year.

Sourcebooks president Dominique Raccah says her company wasn’t caught off guard by the success of We Interrupt This Broadcast (they had invested in a substantial first printing), but they were surprised by the way it zoomed up the bestseller charts. “I think bestsellers always are a surprise,” she says. “I would not be cocky enough to admit, or to even really think, that I knew what would stir the public consciousness to gain that type of success.” Not surprisingly, Raccah thinks mixed-media books are the wave of the future: “I think it needs to be. I think kids have a very limited attention span not just kids, but readers in general and they require a little more help to get into texts these days. I think audio is a great supplemental way to expose people to the experience [of reading a book].” Two new mixed-media books are due out this year from Sourcebooks: And the Fans Roared, author Joe Garner’s third in this series, and The Second City by Sheldon Patinkin.

Garner’s book is a follow-up to And the Crowd Goes Wild and focuses on sports events that were overlooked in the first book. Included are text, photos, and sound bites of Mike Tyson’s prize fight disqualification for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, Viking Jim Marshall’s “wrong way” run against the San Francisco 49ers, and basketball’s Larry Bird stealing the ball in the last seconds of a legendary playoff game against the Detroit Pistons.

The Second City marks a departure from other books in the series, for it is about that most elusive of all art forms comedy. Most people will probably recognize the name of the comedy troupe, but those who do not will certainly know the wacky comedy of Second City alumni such as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Gildna Radner, Martin Short, Chris Farley, and others.

To compile this book, author Patinkin went back over 40 years of taped performances and rehearsals to select the best moments. As a director, teacher, and advisor to the comedy troupe since its inception in the 1950s, Parinkin certainly knew his way around the material. The book’s photographs and text compliment audio CDs of the actual comedy in a way that puts the reader in the center of the action. The audio, with the familiar voices of Belushi, Murray, Myers, and company, is hilarious.

“This book is wild,” admits Raccah. “It is probably the wildest book I’ve ever done. It has a real feel to it, a real history . . . it is going to surprise a lot of readers. The audio is really funny and it gives the book a feel that I have never seen in a performing arts book.” Reviews or the lack of them are the only thing that concerns the Sourcebooks executive. “We have lots of problems getting these books reviewed. [Reviewers] don’t know what to do with mixed media books. We had very few reviews for the first book. The booksellers are hand selling it, God bless them.” So, how do you follow a book as funny as The Second City? With some of the best poetry ever written in American, read by some of the country’s top poets Sourcebooks’ next mixed-media book, due out in fall 2001, will be edited by an advisory panel that includes a current and past poet laureate of the United States. “We’ve been working on this book for three years,” says Raccah, who then adds with a laugh, “It’s like producing a movie.” James L. Dickerson is the former publisher of Nine-O-One Network magazine and the author of numerous books, including the recently published Dixie Chicks: Down-Home and Backstage.

he mix is the message Sourcebooks was not the first trade publisher to package audio CDs, photos, and text into a mixed-media package the publisher of an instructional guitar manual takes that honor but it certainly has been the most successful. Sourcebooks’ first mixed-media book, We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner, sold an astonishing […]
Review by

he mix is the message Sourcebooks was not the first trade publisher to package audio CDs, photos, and text into a mixed-media package the publisher of an instructional guitar manual takes that honor but it certainly has been the most successful.

Sourcebooks’ first mixed-media book, We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner, sold an astonishing 600,000 copies, catapulting it onto the bestseller lists in 1998. A second mix-media book documenting famous events in sports, And the Crowd Goes Wild, also by Joe Garner, has sold over 500,000 copies since it was published last year.

Sourcebooks president Dominique Raccah says her company wasn’t caught off guard by the success of We Interrupt This Broadcast (they had invested in a substantial first printing), but they were surprised by the way it zoomed up the bestseller charts. “I think bestsellers always are a surprise,” she says. “I would not be cocky enough to admit, or to even really think, that I knew what would stir the public consciousness to gain that type of success.” Not surprisingly, Raccah thinks mixed-media books are the wave of the future: “I think it needs to be. I think kids have a very limited attention span not just kids, but readers in general and they require a little more help to get into texts these days. I think audio is a great supplemental way to expose people to the experience [of reading a book].” Two new mixed-media books are due out this year from Sourcebooks: And the Fans Roared, author Joe Garner’s third in this series, and The Second City by Sheldon Patinkin.

Garner’s book is a follow-up to And the Crowd Goes Wild and focuses on sports events that were overlooked in the first book. Included are text, photos, and sound bites of Mike Tyson’s prize fight disqualification for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, Viking Jim Marshall’s “wrong way” run against the San Francisco 49ers, and basketball’s Larry Bird stealing the ball in the last seconds of a legendary playoff game against the Detroit Pistons.

The Second City marks a departure from other books in the series, for it is about that most elusive of all art forms comedy. Most people will probably recognize the name of the comedy troupe, but those who do not will certainly know the wacky comedy of Second City alumni such as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Gildna Radner, Martin Short, Chris Farley, and others.

To compile this book, author Patinkin went back over 40 years of taped performances and rehearsals to select the best moments. As a director, teacher, and advisor to the comedy troupe since its inception in the 1950s, Parinkin certainly knew his way around the material. The book’s photographs and text compliment audio CDs of the actual comedy in a way that puts the reader in the center of the action. The audio, with the familiar voices of Belushi, Murray, Myers, and company, is hilarious.

“This book is wild,” admits Raccah. “It is probably the wildest book I’ve ever done. It has a real feel to it, a real history . . . it is going to surprise a lot of readers. The audio is really funny and it gives the book a feel that I have never seen in a performing arts book.” Reviews or the lack of them are the only thing that concerns the Sourcebooks executive. “We have lots of problems getting these books reviewed. [Reviewers] don’t know what to do with mixed media books. We had very few reviews for the first book. The booksellers are hand selling it, God bless them.” So, how do you follow a book as funny as The Second City? With some of the best poetry ever written in American, read by some of the country’s top poets Sourcebooks’ next mixed-media book, due out in fall 2001, will be edited by an advisory panel that includes a current and past poet laureate of the United States. “We’ve been working on this book for three years,” says Raccah, who then adds with a laugh, “It’s like producing a movie.” James L. Dickerson is the former publisher of Nine-O-One Network magazine and the author of numerous books, including the recently published Dixie Chicks: Down-Home and Backstage.

he mix is the message Sourcebooks was not the first trade publisher to package audio CDs, photos, and text into a mixed-media package the publisher of an instructional guitar manual takes that honor but it certainly has been the most successful. Sourcebooks’ first mixed-media book, We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner, sold an astonishing […]

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