Hey fans of baseball trivia, author Dan Schlossberg has done it again. This time, he’s published The New Baseball Bible. I’ve interviewed Dan multiple times (and appeared as a guest co-host on his Braves Banter podcast) and can tell you every one of his books are completely enjoyable. He’s written on umpire Al Clark and has written The 300 Club Have We Seen the Last of Baseball’s 300-Game Winners?
This book is about the game and the players, the fans, coaches, and even the mascots. It’s a must for every baseball lover, so give it as a gift or keep it for yourself.
I was fortunate to be able to interview Dan again about The New Baseball Bible.
I love the stories and sidebars in this book. For example, on page 69, there’s the Oscar Melillo Had a Ball story which is hilarious. Do you have a favorite story like that?
During his playing days, Leo Durocher was a scrappy infielder who liked to pull fast ones on opposing players. One day, however, the tables were reversed and Durocher was called out as a victim of the hidden-ball trick. That night, one of his baseball fields invited him to dinner. Knowing Durocher loved chocolate ice cream, the “friend” planned a surprise. The waiter brought the ice cream and the eager Durocher plunged his spoon into the dish — only to discover “the hidden ball” buried in the ice cream!
Did you learn anything while writing The New Baseball Bible that you didn’t know about the game?
I learned that baseball appeals to fans of all races, creeds, ages, and means — even Hollywood stars and presidents. There’s a special section on presidents throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day — and sometimes getting booed, as Herbert Hoover did in 1930 as the Great Depression was setting in. I also learned that presidents take the responsibility seriously, including one ambidextrous chief executive (Harry Truman) who threw out two balls, one with each arm.
One of my favorite parts of The New Baseball Bible is the memories of old parks, because, like Yankee Stadium, many of the historic parks are gone or not used anymore. Did that section make you sentimental for the history of this sport? Why is it important that we even care about these old parks?
As this book shows, I am a huge history buff. And I made rooms for information and pictures (many from the Library of Congress) of old parks. I’m lucky to have watched games at the original Yankee Stadium, as well as the Polo Grounds, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field, but regret missing Ebbets Field by a year (I became a fan in 1958, the first year the Dodgers and Giants were in California). We should care about old parks because we care about history. Last year was the widely-celebrated Centennial of our National Parks but baseball parks also stand on hallowed ground.
Baseball is ever-changing. Just recently, the intentional walk rule was changed and you don’t have to pitch 4 pitches to walk someone. Why not leave well enough alone instead of changing things?
What an awful idea! Although intentional walks are few and far between, throwing four balls creates two possibilities: (a) the batter can swing and hit any he can reach or (b) the catcher might miss one of them and allow runners to move up, maybe even score. It’s happened in postseason games. Also I loved the drama of watching intentional walks issued with the bases loaded. It happened at least once with Barry Bonds at bat, as memory serves, but he was not the first.
You talked about superstitions in The New Baseball Bible. What’s the big deal about baseball and superstitions and why was it important to document?
Ralph Kiner said he never stepped on the white lines — not because it might bring bad luck but because he didn’t want to take a chance. Ralph Branca changed his number from 13 to 12 after throwing Bobby Thomson the pitch that turned into “the shot heard ’round the world.” Leo Durocher was one of many managers who wouldn’t change his underwear during a winning streak. Superstitions are important to baseball because they make the game more fun. All of us need laughter in our lives, especially these days, and Alec Baldwin can only provide so much.
You have written so many books, including one of my favorite on former umpire Al Clark. What was fun about working on this book and what do you want fans to take away from it?
Not every umpire winds up in jail as the result of a memorabilia scheme gone bad. An outspoken, opinionated, but professional umpire from 1976-2001, Al was always a character, rather than a conformist, and MLB seized the opportunity to sever ties with him. He was eventually fired by Sandy Alderson (then with MLB) because he misused a credit card (the mail fraud / memorabilia issue came later) but deserved nothing more than a reprimand. After serving four months in a minimum-security federal prison (for the mail fraud conviction), he became a motivational speaker promoting baseball, umpiring, and good sportsmanship. I not only co-authored his book but invited him as a guest on two of my baseball theme cruises.
What do you think about the Braves’ chances this year?
With young arms not quite ready for prime time, the Braves beefed up their rotation by adding innings-eaters Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, and Jaime Garcia. They should combine with Julio Teheran and Mike Foltyniewicz to provide a much-improved starting rotation, backed by a solid bullpen. Atlanta won 20 of its last 30 last year, thanks to the additions to Matt Kemp and Dansby Swanson in August, and gets another big boost for 2017 in Brandon Phillips. They’re definitely better than the Marlins (minus Jose Fernandez) or the still-rebuilding Phillies but might not challenge the Mets or Nationals — not yet, anyway, although the Atlanta farm system is rated tops among the 30 teams.
Congratulations Dan on your newest book!
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