A meticulously researched account of baseball history.

READ REVIEW

WEE WILLIE SHERDEL

THE CARDINALS' WINNINGEST LEFT-HANDER

A debut biography focuses on one of the most successful pitchers in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise.

William Henry Sherdel, or Wee Willie as he came to be nicknamed in the 1920s, may not be a household name among baseball fans today, but when he retired from the Cardinals, he had the fourth most wins of any pitcher in the team’s history. Born in 1896 in south-central Pennsylvania, Sherdel was always obsessed with baseball—he was paid to play for the first time when he was 14 years old, a whopping 25 cents for a game (the two-horse wagon trip to the field in a nearby town cost the same). A natural athlete and high school star—he was originally a catcher—he earned a local reputation and, in 1915, was recruited to play for the Hanover Hornets in the newly minted Blue Ridge League, class D minor league baseball. Coulson painstakingly chronicles Sherdel’s meteoric rise—he had a stellar inaugural year and even led the league with the highest batting average (.368). In 1916, he graduated to class AA ball—just one step below the majors—joining the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1918, Sherdel, only 21, realized his ultimate aspiration, making it to the majors. He signed a contract with the Cardinals, where he would remain for most of his professional career. He established himself as a formidable southpaw and played a major role in the team’s victory over the New York Yankees in the 1926 World Series. In his ambitious work, Coulson combines journalistic thoroughness with an infectious enthusiasm for the subject. He captures not only Sherdel’s athletic success, but also the history of the sport’s development and the nation’s embrace of it. But some of the microscopic details the author provides can be numbing, not only of the pitcher’s career, but also the organizational machinations of the teams for which he played. As well-crafted as it is, this biography won’t likely appeal to a wide audience. But it should be a treat for bookish, die-hard Cardinals fans. 

A meticulously researched account of baseball history.

Pub Date: June 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-1743-3

Page Count: 402

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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