Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ray's Reviews: The Glory Years of the Detroit Tigers 1920 - 1950 by William D. Anderson

   Loyal, die-hard Detroit Tiger fans still have a good reason to be happy - there's a great new book out that should provide hours of entertaining enjoyment.

     "The Glory Years of the Detroit Tigers 1920 - 1950" by noted baseball historian William D. Anderson (Wayne State University Press $39.95) provides a fascinating look at three exciting and memorable decades of the popular baseball team.

     Anderson has done significant research on this subject and includes hundreds of previously unpublished photographs from the Detroit News archives.

     His smoothly flowing narrative is broken down into six categories, beginning with a chapter that examines the challenges of Spring Training, which took place in seven different states.

     Franchise stars are deftly covered in detail, showcasing the contributions of Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann, Heinie Manush, Charlie Gehringer, Mickey Cochrane, Goose Goslin and even George Kell.

     Anderson's chapter "The Supporting Cast" offers brief biographical glimpses of many different players who weren't major stars, including a colorful study of erratic baserunner Gee Walker, who was a great hitter.

     Pitchers aren't forgotten, with Anderson offering insights into the careers of Schoolboy Rowe, Bob Newsome, Dizzy Trout and numerous others.

     Another chapter titled "Moments of Glory and Notable Games" explores the World Series efforts of the Detroit Tigers, who won four American League pennants and two World Championships in a 12-year time-span.

     The exceptional use of large, clear photographs make the entire time period vividly come to life; Anderson also added crisp images from his personal collection.

     "The War Years" chapter captures many of the challenges facing the Detroit Tigers and the major leagues during the World War II era, with interesting letters from assorted players and staff members.

     The last section describes the old ballpark and changes that occurred over 30 years, as ownership shifted and Navin Field became Briggs Stadium.

     Anderson is the retired founding Director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries and is the past president of the Historical Society of Michigan.

     He's the author or editor of ten books, including "The Detroit Tigers, A Pictorial Celebration of the Greatest Players and Moments in Detroit Tiger History", published by Wayne State University Press in 2008. However, that book may have to be re-released soon in a revised edition.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 

is a longtime Detroit Tigers fan who's reviewed books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, October 28, 2012.

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