Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Amazing Tales from the Boston Red Sox Dugout (2012)

By Jim Prime and Bill Nowlin

There must be an interesting story surrounding this book, but it's tough to say what it is.

"Amazing Tales from the Boston Red Sox Dugout" was part of a series first put out by Sports Publishing, which specialized in regional sports titles in 2002. In this case, authors Jim Prime and Bill Nowlin - who have done much writing about Boston's baseball team - wrote down a wide range of short stories about players and incidents about the team in its history.

These books weren't designed to be rocket science. A long list of players get chapter headings, although the length of each chapter varies from a couple of paragraphs to, in the case of Ted Williams, many pages.

Prime and Nowlin obviously did some homework here, particularly on the lesser lights. There are anecdotes that were fresh, and I've read a lot of books on the Red Sox over the years. There were even some jokes that featured the same punchline to set-ups that didn't match the popular version, such as the time a pitcher was hit in the head with a line drive and the headlines read "X-rays reveal nothing." I think that story was first associated with Dizzy Dean.

These books are more or less review-proof, as they'll put a smile on your face if you are fan of the particular of the time.

But wait, there's more to the story here.

There are two copyrights on the front of the book, 2002 and 2012. The 2002 book was published by Sports Publishing Inc., which went out of business a few years ago. The rights to the SPI catalog were purchased by Skyhorse Publishing. (Full disclosure - I had a book that went this route.) Apparently, this book was re-released 10 years after it first hit the bookstores.

The catch is that someone did a bad job of editing the new version of the book. After a new introduction, most of the book is written as if it were still 2002. That includes references to "long-suffering" Red Sox fans, who stopped suffering in 2004 and 2007, and glowing accounts of the careers of such players as Nomar Garciaparra, who saw his baseball ranking take a fall in the years after 2002 or so. There are some references to the later years, making it all that much more confusing.

The book also could have used one more read by a copy editor. Some phrases are repeated within chapters, sometimes a few paragraphs apart.

I did read the e-book version of "Amazing Tales from the Boston Red Sox Dugout," which only cost 99 cents. Perhaps there were problems in the "translation," although I doubt it. It seems more likely that an updated version got rushed through without much care.  Red Sox fans still will get a little enjoyment out of this book, but they also figure to be a little confused and/or annoyed along the way.

Two stars

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