Outta the park

The baseball books lead off with Harvey Frommer's timely Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built. Frommer provides a nostalgic, factually keen description of the formidable ball yard through its many baseball seasons, 1923 through 2008 (set to be replaced in 2009 by a new facility). He also interpolates hundreds of quotable quotes from dozens of ballplayers and managers (Yankees and otherwise), front - office executives, broadcasters, newspaper writers, team employees and even garden - variety fans, all of whom share their unique perspectives on the great games they witnessed and the specialness of the Yankee Stadium baseball experience. The photographs are even more gratifying: black - and - white and color stills stirringly evoke the Yankee legacy, from Ruth and Gehrig through Rodriguez and Rivera. The foreword is by longtime stadium PA announcer Bob Sheppard, a legend in his own right, who observed the Bronx Bombers firsthand for some 50 years, through good times and bad.

In a similar vein, but loaded with fan - friendly extras, comes Babe Ruth: Remembering the Bambino in Stories, Photos & Memorabilia. Co - authored by Julia Ruth Stevens (Ruth's adopted daughter) and versatile journalist Bill Gilbert, this volume basically avoids the Bambino's legendary excesses, instead focusing on his humble Baltimore youth, his meteoric rise as home - run king, his iconic Yankee status, his role as baseball ombudsman, his life as a family man, and his eventual decline and widely mourned death. The archival photos, some rarely seen, are fabulous, dramatically capturing Ruth the ballplayer at various career stages but just as often portraying his lovable self with loved ones, friends and fans (especially the kids). The book includes captivating reproductions of Ruth memorabilia, including his birth certificate, player contracts, game tickets and programs, and a signed team photo of the famed 1927 Yankees ballclub.

When World War II broke out, FDR made it a point to keep major league baseball going for morale purposes, never mind the hostilities' eventual impact on the game's talent pool. When Baseball Went to War, edited by Bill Nowlin and Todd Anton, serves as a tribute to those who traded the playing fields of America's pastime for the killing fields of Europe and Asia. The text primarily pulls together individual player profiles - Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, etc. - detailing their war service and pre - and postwar careers. Even more interesting are the stories of lesser - known individuals such as Lou Brissie, who rebounded from war - related injuries to make the grade as a pro. Ancillary essays focus on the home front during wartime, including Merrie A. Fidler's piece on the All - American Girls Base Ball League, which sheds some factual light on an era immortalized in the film A League of Their Own. The book concludes with lists of major -

Pass the ball

Two seasons ago, Tom Callahan's excellent biography Johnny U included an exciting blow - by - blow account of the historic 1958 NFL sudden - death title game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. In The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever, Hall of Famer and former sportscaster Frank Gifford, with an assist from Peter Richmond, attempts the same idea but with an elaborate twist. Gifford, a Giants receiver and running back and member of the '58 squad, uses the game itself more as a jumping - off point to interview surviving members of the two teams and to reminisce about his own career and those of players who have passed on. The narrative toggles between personal reflections and game specifics, and Gifford brings in the memories of reporters, wives and other onlookers to help create a detailed and contextual overview of the contest itself. Recommended for "old school" football fans.

With the advent of the Web has come outr

Pop culture heroes

Devotees of the TV show "How I Met Your Mother" may best appreciate the humor of The Bro Code, compiled by sitcom screenwriter Matt Kuhn under the guise of the character Barney Stinson (as portrayed by actor Neil Patrick Harris). Yet it's definitely funny stuff, with Kuhn laying out all the do's and don'ts of contemporary brotherhood - with much of it having to do with the opposite sex. For example: "A Bro will drop whatever he's doing and rush to help his Bro dump a chick." Or, "A Bro shall never rack jack his wingman." (Translation: Steal a buddy's girl.) Much of this - etiquette on grooming, clothes, sports, channel - surfing, pizza - ordering, drinking and so on - will read like common sense to most regular stand - up guys, but it's codified here with hip style and features some humorous graphics. Bottom line? It's all about supporting one another, however best and most realistically possible. Article #1: "Bros before ho's."

Finally, for that guy who just may not want to grow up, there's The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book Featuring Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe. Author Martin Pasko has fashioned an interesting, nuanced history of the comic - book giant, founded during the Great Depression and the eventual purveyor of beloved American superheroes - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. - as well as a long string of Westerns, Army adventures ("Sgt. Rock"), sci - fi tales and pop - culture - inspired ephemera. The main draw in this sturdy, ring - bound showcase are the marvelous photos - of cover art, story pages, early pencil sketches, company correspondence, internal memos, etc. - plus production stills from spinoff movies and TV shows. Hardcore fans will particularly relish the plastic - wrapped inserts containing reproduced memorabilia from the company's long history, including public service comics, promotional items, greetings cards, posters, bookmarks, stickers, etc. Pasko's final chapter tells of DC's corporate repositioning in 1989 as a part of the Warner Bros. movie studio, with a discussion of the marketing and new - media development that has gone on since. Paul Levitz, DC's current president and publisher, provides the foreword.

 

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