Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Old Bookshelf

So soon my parents are planning on selling my childhood home (sigh.) And as a result of this massive move, I have been going through some old things. I visited my dad because he wanted to go trough his massive collection of baseball books to see if I wanted anything.

Here are some highlights.

"In more than 30 years in professional baseball as a pitcher, coach, performance analyst, and consultant, Tom House has helped enhance and extend the careers of many pitching greats, including Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan. In Fit to Pitch, Tom combines his on-field experiences, weight-room workouts, and years of research to deliver proven, practical applications that will strengthen your pitching throughout the year."

"Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver is the acknowledged master of both the psychology and the technique of making a living at the corners of the plate. "The Art of Pitching, a product of Seaver's twenty-one years of expertise on the mound, details what it takes to get to the top -- and stay there -- in terms of conditioning, mechanics, and concentration. "

Or as my dad put it: Tall and Fall (House) vs Drop and Drive (Seaver....and Casey Janssen.)

"At 43 years old, Nolan Ryan is a marvel. He is still blowing his fastballs by hitters at an age when most pitchers have long since retired -- or have learned to depend on guile instead of power. But the Ryan express keeps chugging on, getting more unhittable, not less. Nolan Ryan's Pitcher's Bible tells us the secrets of Ryan's success. Drawing on Ryan's practical experience and Tom House's research expertise, it shows how the right combination of exercise and motivation can help a pitcher develop to his greatest potential." 

It doesn't cover how to become president of the Texas Rangers, probably the most dominant team of the past five years that hasn't won a World Series. Nor does it cover how to old man glower when your bullpen has lost it's ability to throw strikes because your possibly inept manager has misused and abused them. 

"Boggs shows hitters how to apply the lessons of the power curve to use the impact zone to its maximum potential and produce the most hits and runs. He explains the similarities and differences between his hitting theories and those of hitting greats Ted Williams, Charlie Lau, and Pete Rose."

Not included are chapters on how to keep your road girlfriend on the road and out of court or any recipe for lucky chicken. You'll find such recipes in a different Boggs book called Fowl Tips.

"Former Philadelphia Phillie third baseman Mike Schmidt's Hall of Fame career was fuelled by an unshakable work ethic and an intelligence that allowed him to sift through numerous hitting theories and choose the elements that best complemented his physical abilities. This book is the result of more than 20 years of study and application on Schmidt's part. It is designed to assist little-league coaches with the difficult task of teaching young players how to hit. Schmidt combines elements of three major systems into one: the early weight-shift system (think of films of Ty Cobb); the Charlie Lau weight shift; and the Ted Williams rotation. The analogy Schmidt uses to differentiate between the shift and rotation systems is the difference between a shot-putter and a javelin thrower. The javelin thrower generates force via running and a final thrust (weight shift); the shot-putter requires a torquing movement (rotation) in a small space. Through text, photos, and line drawings, Schmidt explores the mental aspects of hitting, situational hitting, the strike zone, hand action, and how to recognize ball rotation, among other elements. This is an excellent text for hitters--young or old--and their coaches."

This is, according to some, the best book about hitting ever. Well, not for this guy, who commented on the Amazon listing in 1999 and itemized every single error in the book. 

My dad was a lefty pitcher and he said that there were old timey guys who coached him in the sixties as a teenager that wanted him to pitch like this.

Nolan Ryan's Fastball on VHS. Ryan "reveals legendary pitching secrets for the first time ever!" even though I think some of my dad's books by him pre-date this tape. Nolan Ryan Express, people. 

The next book is my favourite find, if only for the delicious irony of it. I kind of want to keep it for the irony alone.

"About steroids, don't use them. Steroids create the illusion of great gains in short periods of time, but they have a debilitating effect on your body chemistry, and in the long run you will be much worse for having used them. The ultimate price you have to pay is far, far greater than any short-term gain. Also, baseball is not a game of large muscle. It is a game of strong, solid, durable muscle. Therefore, steroids have virtually no value even in the short term, if you are serious about baseball." (Canseco and McKay 1990:159).

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