Home run reads

By Marianne Murray Guess

Play Ball! Baseball, the national pastime, is in full swing. For the Cincinnati Reds it’s the 140th opening day for a team founded in 1869 that was baseball’s first all­professional team. Originally called the “Red Stockings,” they proceeded to win 130 straight games from 1869 through 1870. In 1890 the team joined the National League for good and shortened their name to “Reds.”

Wouldn’t it have been great if this year’s team could win a 130 in a row — ­­ dream on Reds’ fans. For you baseball aficionados I’ve put together some new and some not so new baseball books as we start the 2016 season.

​Batting First: ​Johnny Bench’s book, “Catch Every Ball ­­ How to Handle Life’s Pitches.

Despite eighteen broken bones and three major surgeries, Bench knew what it took to be a catcher on the World Champion Reds. He was a 14­time all­star, two­time National League Most Valuable Player and a key member of the Big Red Machine. Ted Williams signed a baseball for Bench and predicted he would be “a Hall of Famer for sure.” He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

In his book you’ll find little known stories of his childhood, the baseball years and his travels which lay the groundwork to help you learn life’s key fundamentals. Such as, surround yourself with intelligent people, move on after triumph and tragedy, have confidence in yourself, believe in yourself, take control of your life…and catch every ball!

​The Beat Writer: ​If you haven’t read Hal McCoy’s book, “The Real McCoy:­­ My Half­Century With the Reds,” now would be a good time.

He wrote more than 25,000 bylines about the Reds. In his book he gives you an inside-­the-­dugout look into the politics, personalities, the hi­jinks, X-­rated scenes and all the classic ballpark happenings known only to those on the field. Pete Rose (The Hit King) put it this way, “In my 12 years in the big leagues I was fortunate to meet a lot of great people, Hal McCoy being among them. We all know what a Hall of Fame writer he is, but more important, he is a Hall of Fame person. My memories of playing in Cincinnati are embedded in the words of Hall McCoy.”

​Now Pitching: ​Doug Coates has written a wonderful little book, “Pitching for Success: Character Lessons the Joe Nuxhall Way.” Doug coached little league baseball and girls fast­pitch softball for over twenty years. He also volunteers for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields in Fairfield, Ohio.

This is a perfect book for teaching young boys and girls the character traits Red’s pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall lived by. Kim Nuxhall, Director of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League & Character Education Fund, said, “An absolute must for parents, teachers and coaches to share with their children, students and players.”

By the way, Joe Nuxhall’s book, “Joe: ­­ Rounding Third and Heading for Home,” is now out in paperback. It would be a great companion book to “Pitching for Success.”

As an aside, Joe Nuxhall, in addition to his playing career, spent 40 years broadcasting Reds’ games. Nuxhall is most remembered for having been the youngest player to ever appear in a major league game, pitching two thirds of an inning for the Reds on June 10, 1944 at the age of 15 years, 316 days.

​Batting Clean Up: ​“Cincinnati Reds Big Book of Activities,” written by Peg Connery­-Boyd, is a book for Reds’ fans of all ages. As the book says, “Grab your Reds’ jersey, some crayons and pencil and step up to the plate.”

In this book you get puzzles and games, create your very own Reds’ baseball card, draw the Reds logo, decode secret messages and a whole lot more. Not a Reds fan? This book is also available for virtually all major league teams.

I can guarantee you’ll hit a home run with any of these books. Step up to the plate at your nearest bookstore and play ball! Happy baseball reading, everyone!

Marianne Murray Guess is the owner of New and Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood. She lives in Laura, Ohio.

By Marianne Murray Guess