Acutely intelligent baseball memoir by retired second-baseman Morgan, now a commentator for ESPN, and freelance baseball writer Falkner (The Short Season, 1986). Although a pipsqueak by baseball standards, at 5'7'' Morgan still towered at the plate and on the field: two consecutive MVPs, 2518 career hits, a Hall-of-Famer during his first year of eligibility. He spearheaded Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, one of the greatest teams ever assembled, playing alongside Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez. Morgan covers all the anticipated highlights—meteoric rise through the minors; early seasons with the hapless Colt 45s; the great years with the Reds, including the legendary 1975 World Series against Boston (in which five games were each decided by one run); the gentle decline. Morgan enthuses about his fellow players with opinions both delightful and curious (picking Mays rather than Ruth as ``the greatest player who ever lived''; calling Pete Rose ``smart as a fox''). His anecdotes sparkle, and often display an admirable humility, as in his first at-bat against legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax: ``It was one of those defining moments when one part of my life seemed to slip away while another suddenly settled into place: that is, until Koufax threw his first pitch. I never saw it. I literally heard it go by me.'' But for all this gravy, the meat lies in Morgan's astute analysis of baseball's current woes. One is racism, and Morgan (who is black) talks sharply about bias in the game before urging, as one possible solution, black ownership of teams. Another is the level of play, which Morgan believes has slipped badly in the last 20 years. He calls for more tutoring of rookies by vets, and for the creation of a new executive position, a ``roving ambassador'' who will mend rifts between players, management, and the commissioner's office. Morgan doesn't say it, but there's little doubt that he's the man for the job. A winner all the way. (Photographs)

Pub Date: April 26, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03469-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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