Monday, September 15, 2008

Red Sox Threads by Bill Nowlin

Red Sox Threads

Odds & Ends From Red Sox History

by Bill Nowlin

Rounder Books, 2008, $18.95, Softcover, 545 pgs. ISBN -13:978-1-57940-157-3

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

I always thought I knew baseball trivia. Then I read Bill Nowlin’s Red Sox Threads, Odds and Ends From Red Sox History. I compare myself to Bill Nowlin’s work as I would my knowledge of the universe compared to Stephen Hawking. Zero. Zip. Nada. These guys are in a class by themselves and Nowlin’s book on the Red Sox tops anything I’ve seen to date.

The long forgotten names he whips up like soufflĂ© include Matt Batts and Danny Heep (Batts was Heep’s uncle). Jack “Tomato” Lamabe, Willie Tasby, Tom Satriano, and so many more from every era of Bosox history. Eight or 80, any member of Red Sox nation will find a “lost” name, an old hero, and many facts or trivia bits they never knew.

Red Sox Threads is a totally amazing book by Nowlin, a Lexington, MA native, and Cambridge, MA resident, who began writing about the Sox as a teenager. He has written more than 100 articles in various publications and 15 books about the team he loves – or rather to which he is addicted.

So what’s in this book? Practically everything any Red Sox fan would want to know: How the team got its name, player nicknames, all the players who ever played for the Sox, foreign born players, Latinos, Jewish (you’ll be surprised), Native Americans (more surprises), African-Americans, Asian ball players and even women who played at Fenway Park (but not for the Red Sox).

Are you interested in relatives (like Batts and Heep) who played for the Red Sox? Or do you prefer to learn about names that appear in a box score but never played for the Sox – the phantoms? Maybe you recall the one game wonders: Bob Scherbarth (1950), Jim Hisner (1951), Guy “Moose” Morton (1954), Bill “Rudy” Schlesinger (1965) and the most recent one game wonder Peabody’s Steve Lomasney (1999). Then there are those who played in two games.....

Ah, but there is so much more. Sox opening day wins, road openers, how some great Sox broke in to the majors, and, yes, a page entitled, “The day the Red Sox showed up in the wrong city.”

There is also a lot of history (and some conjecture) about the Red Sox racism, how they turned down Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Sam Jethroe (Boston Braves 1950 Rookie of the Year). Read closely and you will find who said what, especially the racial epithets. Nowlin does not hold back on the truth or even alleged accusations of racism.

You will find it all in the more than 500 pages of material he has compiled.

Some of my favorites sections are players’ names based on different things like girl’s names, occupations, religion, plants, drinking, animals and so on. And my personal favorite story was about Ted Williams (an all time favorite even though I am an inveterate Braves fan) and his positive attitude toward black ball players.

Zvi Sesling/ Ibbetson Update

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