Book Excerpts

Selected excerpts and sample photos from the books follow here;  all books are available at AMAZON.com (click here ), BN.com (click here), and booksamillion(click here).com. Also available at the following local Binghamton bookstores (Barnes and Noble, Riverread, and Mets Gift Shop).

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SIX MORE WINS: A TEAM. A TOWN, A REBOUND, and a CHAMPIONSHIP!

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This book captures the chamionship season of the 2014 Binghamton Mets, using the team as a metaphor for the city and its denizens. This first-person account captures the author talkin’baseball with some season ticket holders.  

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Move Over Babe, Here Comes Henry!

 With the game well in hand I put my score sheet away and plop myself next to Kevin Healy and his wife, Cyndy, who are two of  Binghamton’s finest fans. The scoreboard tells us a lie, saying it is 45 degrees in the 8th inning. Kevin, Cyndy and I engage in small talk, though our discussion is larger than the crowd. Then, between innings I ask Kevin if he knows what today is. He looks at me with a grin from ear to ear, “Of course I do!”

He looks at me with disappointment. “Did you really think I wouldn’t know?” Cyndy now leans over and with a smile that matches Kevin’s, states, “We were there, in Atlanta!”

I look at them in with a tilted head and furrowed brow, feigning disbelief, knowing that they are not playing with me, that they were sitting in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium when Aaron hit the home run that caused broadcaster Milo Hamilton to shout, “Move Over, Babe, Here Comes Henry!” I ask them both to tell me how in the world they wound up being eye witnesses to one of baseball’s best moments.

Cyndy picks up the story.

“We were dating way back then and we were visiting my relatives in Atlanta and of course, with the Braves being home and the chance to see history, we had to go to the game.” She looks at Kevin and smiles now. “And he got mad at the person behind us because he was playing his transistor radio too loud.”

Like runners in a relay, Kevin now picks up the story.

“There we are watching the game, and you know, I want to soak in the ambience of the stadium and what not,” starts Kevin. In his next sentence, he emphasizes the no. “I don’t need no transistor radio telling me what Aaron is gunning for. Well, after Aaron’s first at bat, I turn around to complain and…”

Cyndy can’t let him finish the story. “And then he realizes they guy with the radio was blind!”

Kevin nods his head in agreement, “Yep, he couldn’t see anything, but he wanted to soak up everything about the game. He wanted to be there to witness history, just like we did,” explained Healy. “Obviously I never asked him to lower the radio,” concluded Healy.

I look at them both and ask what it was like when Aaron lifted the ball into the Braves bullpen.

“We knew it was gone the minute he hit it,” Healy excitedly explained, reliving the moment as if it were yesterday. “We stood and cheered for as long as possible. It was great, one of the best moments I ever had at a baseball game!”

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AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE BINGHAMTON METS: 

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This 144-page book includes over 200 color photographs of Binghamton Mets players in action through the years. 

Back and Front Cover: 

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Front and Back Cover for “An Ilustrated History of the Binghamton Mets”

EXCERPT:

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Fulfilling the Dream. On Halloween night in 2015, former Binghamton Met Michael Conforto realized the dream of those who have passed through Binghamton when he hit two homers in a World Series game! Above, he hits a home run off of former New York Met Chris Young in game 4 of the World Series at Citi Field. Below, Conforto connects again, hooking an outside breaking pitch from Frank Duffy into the right field bullpen!

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SPRING TRAINING WITH THE METS IN PORT ST. LUCIE

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EXCERPT:

Changes at St. Lucie have included both fan-friendly items, and those not so friendly. The Tiki bar in left field, along with the berm in right, and the outfield video scoreboard have added to the overall spectator experience. The post September 11, 2001 era ushered in increased security measures, however, including limiting parts of the complex to the fans. In turning these pages, you not only revisit the Mets of yesteryear, but you also get a glimpse of the changing nature of the game, as well as the changing face of the nation.

In the opening chapter we discuss such revered Mets as Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, and Mookie Wilson. Mention these names to any Mets fan and a smile creases their face. This chapter recalls the early days of spring training in St. Lucie and reflects a “Remember when” theme.

The second chapter is named for Sandy Alderson, partly because Alderson’s reign as general manager echoes that of Frank Cashen, who presided over the Mets during the optimistic years of the mid 1980s and also because Alderson’s  reign brought an “about face” in how the team conducted business. In this chapter you’ll see many of the Mets whom Alderson has charged with bringing home another championship to Flushing.

The third chapter “Friends Posing as Foes” shows ex-Mets in the uniforms of opponents, as well as current ambassadors of the game who choose to wear colors other than the blue and orange of the Mets. As you read these pages you’ll be reminded of some trades that have not turned out too well, as well as some players who, though they cultivated their talent in the Northeast, have never worn the uniform of the Mets.

The fourth chapter “School, Smiles, and Surrounding Sites” might be my favorite chapter, as it captures the insouciance of the backfields of spring training, where player accessibility is at its highest, providing a bucolic and idyllic setting for the camera. The chapter also provides a tour of some of Florida’s bygone spring training sites, including snapshots of what became of Vero Beach and Sanford after the Dodgers and Giants left their respective Florida training sites.

The final chapter provides a scorecard, offering a subjective view for how St. Lucie rates as a spring training site and offers tips for getting the most out of a visit to St. Lucie.

Whether you are a Mets fan or simply a baseball fan, turning these pages will bring spring training alive for you.

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In 1999 visiting instructor Ron Swobada poses with young fan Daniel Lunde.

 

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SPRING TRAINING WITH THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS:

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This 128-page book includes over 200 color photographs that captures the history of spring training at Viera, Florida, with the Washinton Nationals. (Published by Fonthill Media, America through Time division. 

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Introduction

There are already scores of books documenting spring training and a fair number of books discussing the Washington Nationals, so as I began the task of compiling this book, I asked myself “Why publish it?”

The answer lies in the unique perspective that this work provides. I have had the good fortune  to  visit Florida for spring training on a regular basis since 1999 and all the photos and stories I have accumulated have been purely from a fan’s perspective. Though I have gotten media credentials through the years to cover other sporting events, all the material in this book was garnered without media credentials. The vantage points in this book are all accessible to today’s fan, providing a view of spring training solely from the fan’s perspective.

In addition to providing tips about getting the most out of a visit to see the Nationals and highlighting the history of Viera as a spring training site, this work brings out the “hidden jewels” of  spring training that dramatically enhance a visit to Viera in the spring.

The backfields of Viera (officially known as the Carl F. Barger Sports Complex) are a true gem of Nationals’ spring training and are representative of the simplicity and renewal present in the earliest days of spring camp. There is no between-innings entertainment here, just the players striving to achieve their goals in this “no frills” view of the sport. For the diehards and students of the game, it is an unparalleled pleasure. While March draws fans flocking to watch the exhibition games, subtle drama unfolds on the backfields in February, as the Nationals’ spring training attendees prepare for the start of the exhibition schedule.

After the exhibition season starts, the backfields of Viera are where stars such as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon honed their craft, as they were early cuts from their first spring training camps. It is also on the backfields where Nationals regulars have participated in morning intrasquad games to get some work in before facing major league competition. On these backfields, you are right on top of the action, and it is here where the close-up pictures of Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman warming up against the Florida sky were taken; it is here too where the photo of journeyman  Chuck James shows how isolated a pitcher can be toiling on the mound.

Besides bringing home the intimacy of the backfields, this work also “freezes” scenes that occur only in the spring. Jarrod Lunde will remember his adventures at a spring training game in 2011 for the rest of his life, and not just because it is documented in the following pages. The sight of a major league coach getting into his car and driving home in uniform, just the way Little League players do every day in your hometown, is an experience that only spring training provides.  And only the intimate ballparks of the spring allow fans to catch glimpses of major league fathers carrying and strolling with their young ones, providing a typical moment for those pursuing a most atypical career.

Of course this book also contains numerous action shots of the Nationals and their opponents, and it is here where everyone can appreciate the omnipresent diamond intensity of Bryce Harper, as well as the unorthodox deliveries of pitchers such as Tyler Clippard and Tim Burke. Here too readers can appreciate the capability of the camera to “lie” with the picture it does not capture, as illustrated in the four-photo sequence of the Braves’ Jordan Schafer sliding into home with then Nationals’ catcher Kurt Suzuki applying a tag. Finally, the action shots can be learning tools for today’s young athletes, as the pictures of Jason Bergman and Tyler Clippard demonstrate how to grip the ball to throw a circle changeup, while the locked hips of Bryce Harper at the plate demonstrate how to hit to left field.

The work closes with a subjective scorecard of the spring training experience in Viera and, as with any subjective tally, no doubt will spur debate among seasoned denizens of the spring. But debate is one of the many byproducts of spring training, as the dawn of a new season wakens memories of seasons past and hoped-for championships to come.

I hope you enjoy turning these pages half as much as I had in putting them together. If so, your satisfaction will be my reward. Enjoy the read!

Jim Maggiore

October 2014

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The only place you’ll see Strasburg playing “golf” with baseballs is in this book–this picture was taken on the back fields of Viera.

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TALES FROM THE BINGHAMTON BASEBALL SHRINE:

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This coffee-table book profiles the members of Binghamton’s Baseball Hall of Fame.  

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Front and Back Cover for “Celebrating 100 Years of Baseball in Greater Binghamton: Tales from the Binghamton Baseball Shrine”

Why Kraly Wasn’t Getting the Corners…

Steve Kraly got the call for the Shrine in 1997 based on his once-in-a-lifetime 1953 season, when he won 19 games for the Triplets in only four months!  Kraly was the youngest of five children and grew up in Whiting, Indiana. His parents emigrated from Yugoslavia before he was born and spoke Croatian at home, so Kraly learned how to speak English while attending public schools in Indiana. Whiting’s Indiana scholastic teams benefitted greatly from Kraly’s presence, as he excelled in baseball, basketball, and track.

 

Kraly’s athletic talent enabled him to receive a scholarship to Indiana University, but when the team’s manager told him freshmen were not allowed to participate in the fall baseball program, Kraly decided to sign a professional contract with the Yankees after one year of college. Before he left, however, he organized his freshmen colleagues and challenged the varsity nine to a baseball game. The game turned out to be a going away party for Kraly, as his freshmen team beat the varsity, 9-0 behind an 8-strikeout performance by Steve. Feeling vindicated, Kraly left school and signed with the Yankees for an $800.00 bonus and a salary of $90.00 a month.

 

The first professional team that Kraly pitched for was the 1949 Independence Yankees, which was a Class D team in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri league. One of his teammates that year was Mickey Mantle, who hit .313 as he started his path to becoming an American icon. Kraly was the ace of the staff, going 15-10 and posting a 3.28 ERA. He became friends with Mantle even though he was not overly impressed with Mantle’s season, as he explained to reporter John W. Fox in 1969:  “My opinion of him was so-so. He was a skinny kid, maybe 165, who couldn’t pull the ball, bunted his way to .300 and couldn’t catch fly balls at shortstop.”

In 1950 Kraly moved up to the Western Association and played for the Joplin Miners in Class C ball. Mantle also followed him there, hitting .386 with 26 home runs. Kraly once again was the ace of the staff and went 18-6 that year with a 2.79 ERA! Scouts were pointing to Whitey Ford and Steve Kraly as the top two southpaw prospects in the organization, while Mantle was targeted as the prized everyday prospect. Mantle impressed Kraly far more during this season as he had put on thirty pounds of muscle and almost quadrupled his homer output from the seven he hit at Independence.

While Mantle was impressing Kraly, little Steve was impressing the scouts. Harry Craft, a 6-year veteran of the major leagues, wrote of Kraly in 1950: “Has a live fastball, better than average curve and a fair change. Good control. Pitched six shutouts this season, a fine competitor.” Another scout, E.H. Awilling, echoed Craft’s opinion, and labeled Kraly as a prospect to keep an eye on:  “Has potent fast ball—control good enough, improving rapidly. Not excitable. Always doing better than expected. Seems capable of meeting any and all situations. Watch.”

During these early years in professional ball Kraly had one of his most memorable moments. On a night that he had command of his fastball he felt the home plate umpire was missing a lot of strikes. Kraly knew he was painting the low outside corner of the plate but consistently the umpire was calling it a ball. After the game he and Mantle went to a local watering hole and had a few refreshments with the umpiring crew from that night. Steve got up enough courage to converse with the plate umpire during the evening.

“You know, you were not giving me anything on the corner today. Were you seeing everything ok?”

The umpire looked at him and said, “You know, you’re right, I can’t see those pitches on the corner!”

Kraly’s dumbfounded look begged for an explanation.

“You see, I only have a glass eye in my right socket so I can’t see those corner pitches too well,” the umpire explained. With a smile on his face he moved his hand up to his eye while all eyes at the table were on him—but not for long….

Kraly and Mantle were soon looking at each other in horror.

The umpire stuck his fingers in his socket and pulled out his glass eye. “There, have a look!”

Kraly could not get another sip of his refreshment soon enough.

Two mentors Kraly had coming up through the minor leagues were Phil Page, his manger at Binghamton in 1953, and Hall of Famer Charles Albert “Chief “Bender, one of his minor league pitching coaches. Page taught Kraly how to throw a screwball, which would fade away from righty hitters. Bender taught him how to command his curveball by making every bullpen session have a purpose. Bender required his pitchers to throw twenty curves during a session and the pitchers could not shower until they threw 12 curveballs for strikes.

In 1953 Kraly returned from two years of military service and reclaimed his status as an elite prospect, going 19-2 with the 1953 Triplets. He was called up to the Yankees on July 31st   and made his major league debut on August 9th, in front of 42,504 fans at Yankee Stadium, pitching 3 innings of one-run baseball in a 5-0 loss to Billy Pierce and the Chicago White Sox. Kraly was the most surprised person in the stadium when he got the call to come into the game, as he was told by Stengel before the game that he would be throwing in the bullpen just to get his work in.

When it was time to get into the game, Kraly thought he had his nervous energy under control as he walked toward the bullpen gate and then stopped. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, Ralph Houk, then the Yankees third-string catcher, interrupted Kraly’s trance—“Steve, we don’t open the gate here. You have to jump over it to get onto the field.”

Kraly played the role of the rube expertly, never questioning Houk’s advice.  He looked at the gate and thought, “No problem, I can hop over that.” As Kraly was at the peak of his jump, however, his spikes caught on the top of the fence and he went crashing to the ground, making his first steps onto a major league field a stumble while providing his bullpen mates with a good laugh!

Kraly spent the rest of the season with the big club, going 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA, while also getting involved in a couple more shutouts. On September 15th he lost a 1-0 pitching duel to future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians. Kraly threw 8 innings, allowing one run on 4 hits while Lemon won his 20th game that day, throwing a 7-hit shutout. Ironically, Lemon had earlier won his 18th game against Kraly with another shutout on August 29th, beating the Yankees 6-0!

Kraly has fond memories of the way baseball was played in his prime. He enjoyed the train travel where they had a club car, sleeping car, and dining car. “The team was like a family, you really got to know each other,” he explained.

He is all against the designated hitter and still can’t believe today’s players charge money for autographs. “If they want money for signing an autograph, they should ask the fans to send money to their favorite charity instead!”

He still gets fan mail and estimates he must have signed 1100 pictures during the last year through the mail.  He never accepts money for his signature; if people want to show their appreciation he tells them they can write a check to his favorite cause, the Children’s Home of  Wyoming Conference in Hillcrest, New York.

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GOLF IN BROOME COUNTY:

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This 96-page book includes over 160 photographs that document the history of professional golf in Broome County, taking the reader on a trip to the En-Joie Golf Club, where the  B.C. Open and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open have been held.

EXCERPT: 

As you turn these pages, golf enthusiast or not, you too will get a feel for the rich history of professional golf at En-Joie. This opus of approximately fourteen thousand words and 160 pictures has something for everyone. Chapters two and three zero-in on the golfing enthusiast, illustrating the winners at En-Joie, while also sharing stories of those who have chased championships on its undulating greens and tight fairways. The action photography shots show even champions can carve out divots and send sand flying with the best of them. And of course, there are also some shots that capture the professionals in perfectly-executed sequences.

And for those of you who might think of a bogey as Sam Spade’s favorite drink in the film noir classic The Maltese Falcon, you too will find turning the pages to be informative and enjoyable. For this is a story of how a community has rallied around a golf tournament and served a million volunteer hours to ensure golfers take home fond memories of their sojourn to the hills and valleys of Endicott. The “can do” and resilient attitude of Endicott and its surrounding community is the not-so-subtle theme of Chapter 1, “A Million Hours, 14 Million Dollars, and Counting.”

Finally, for those looking to catch glimpses of celebrities at work and play, the “Beyond the Golf” chapter is the ideal forum, as you not only view some photos of performing artists, but you also get to enjoy a joke or two, courtesy of Bob Hope and Lee Trevino.

So golf fan or not, community resident or not, as these words and pictures pass before your eyes, we hope a smile or two will also grace your visage. Enjoy the read!

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Mickey Mantle gets some food during his break from the B.C. Open Pro-Am in 1974.

 

 

 

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