We played several sports as kids. Baseball in all its varieties was one of our biggest amusements. Of course, for boys, the word “amusements” does not quite cut it, because sports could get serious or at least pretty competitive. Sports were important. For my generation, we were allowed to be competitive, in fact encouraged to be as competitive as possible within the “rules.” Some people like to downplay competition, but that seems foolish in today’s technological world that is more competitive than ever. Almost all kids will have to compete for most everything in their adult future. Even a fine artist who spends day after day alone in his studio will be competing on some level for gallery space and customers. There are a number of psychologists and respected educators who have studied boys suggesting that we’ve done a lot of things wrong. I’m sure we have done a lot of things right as well, but we need to make some adjustments. Boys need to have an opportunity to be boys.
For most boys, being competitive comes quite naturally. But for parents and grandparents, it can be challenging to make sure boys have enough opportunity and they are steered towards things that are right for them. There is a whole lotta reasons that baseball is an excellent sport for boys.
My dad took us to Comiskey Park for a White Sox night game where tickets were provided to law enforcement personnel–police. I remember looking down on the field before one game thinking that I would love to be playing there. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. For our family night at the game, my parents brought sandwiches and drinks. Towards the end of the game, my dad bought us a bag of peanuts.
Many months ago, we began working on a new baseball book called Baseball’s Winning Ways. I worked with our author, J. D. Thorne, who is a baseball enthusiast, a former college athlete, and a life-long fan. I kept thinking about things that I wanted to see in the book that would excite myself, my son and my grandsons. J. D. is fascinated with almost every aspect of baseball and has a large number of friends who are as well.
I wanted to make sure we had coverage of some of today’s biggest players along with other materials that would add education and self-help topics. I tried to think back to my grade school days when book club catalogues showed up in class. The books that attracted me and my friends were sports books. We made our Baseball’s Winning Ways feature sports and then we laced the book with learning aids, history, and self help. J. D. wanted to include much that appealed to him that would also appeal to his sons and grandsons who are very young baseball enthusiasts. Things that got him excited and still do. J. D. has written about the customs and principles of baseball in past with The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy’s Principles for Baseball (and Life).
In Baseball’s Winning Ways, we spend time creating a baseball point of reference in history. J. D. writes about the development of the game and also covers American history that was taking place at the same time.
Sports do not exist in a vacuum as we saw this year with the Corona Virus. Early baseball developed around the Civil War, great players in the Dead Ball era lived through World War I. Ruth was making his way through the Roaring 20s and then the Great Depression. Ted Williams and other players served in World War II and the Korean War. Jackie Robinson was making his mark on baseball and society just after the War. Baseball expansion and free agency came about and modern problems with certain performance drugs came about as our society continued to fight drugs as well. As we cover great baseball players and teams through the 1950s-1970s, we also look at the Cold War and the various conflicts we faced with communists. Readers are given the high points of America’s struggles such as Korea, Vietnam, the U-2 spy plane, the Berlin Airlift, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
J. D. does calls attention to interesting baseball topic such as baseball superstitions, baseball trading cards, and statistics or sabermetrics. A biography section of some historically significant players along with modern stars include several that boys today know. Unlike any other sport, baseball principles or fundamentals are universally accepted in the best programs. Kids are exposed to baseball “virtues” at an early age and these are great life-lessons. Baseball principles get a lot of attention and form the basis for the ‘Winning Ways” that are explored and illustrated in Charts that exist as self-help tools.
Sports illustrator Bill Potter provides images reminiscent of classic baseball cards that quiz readers on some of the players covered in the book. Readers are encouraged to name those!
Baseball’s Winning Ways is an ambitious book that is written for all ages 12 and up. Baseball’s Winning Ways is written for entertainment, stimulation, and information. Certain learning features are provided so the book can be used in educational settings. Still, we went to great lengths to make the book a pleasure to read.