Monday, September 29, 2008

The Boston Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia

The Boston Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia

[No Longer the World’s Shortest Book]

by Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime
Rounder Books
ISBN 978-1-57940-161-0 $18.95

A review by Mignon Ariel King

After 86 years worth of “almost,” we deserve this book. We who got hooked in middle school, back in ’75—falling in love with the magnificent Jim “Oughtta-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame” Rice, watching Carlton Fisk will a ball into fair territory for that glorious home run—only to spend nearly two decades falling just short of World Series bragging rights, well, we earned this book. While reading this tightly-packed collection of facts, remember that this is Bill & Jim’s excellent adventure, written by Sox fans for Sox fans.

For older fans, the play-by-play descriptions and analyses of each game will be dead-on, capturing the spirit of the games, and the slightly grainy thumbnail photos of long-gone heroes will be appreciated.

You want box scores? They’ve got your box scores over here! Want vignettes as well as stats? No problem. You might even end up thinking you were on Huntington Avenue in 1903.

The Encyclopedia is well-researched, with interesting back-of-the-book features such as a list of firsts. Who hit the first inside-the-park World Series homer? If you have a young Sox fan, maybe you can trick him into reading a book by having him look up the answer himself. The beginning of each series section is colorfully written before the authors get into the nuts and bolts of the game, and the player feature helps fans to re-appreciate players—like Mark Bellhorn, 2004. There are a lot of happy “oh, yeah, I remember him” moments to be had in this celebration of the myths (the Curse of Babe Ruth), the truths (the Sox won 7 of the 11 Series they went to), and the pure phenomenon (the “Idiots” won).

The passion and knowledge of the authors combine in a pleasing manner that echoes the finest moments of Friday Night Baseball broadcasts. That is, reading this book is almost as fun as listening to Remy &

Orsillo commentate while sitting on the couch munching cheese doodles. In fact, the only shortcoming of the encyclopedia is that it probably won’t excite and win over non-Sox fans. Members of Sox Nation will, however, reread for years to come, smiling from ear to ear while reliving each sweet carom off the scoreboard with the aroma of Fenway Franks in our nostrils.

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