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Book Notes

February 28, 2013

Mickey Mantle biography shows the good and the ugly

It has become obvious in recent days that bestowing “hero” status on athletes is a misplaced priority.

The revelations that Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Joe Paterno, among others, are not the icons we thought should make us rethink the idea of putting sports figures on pedestals. Nowadays, with the constant barrage of information coming out about athletes being connected to performance-enhancing drugs we have to wonder if we can look up to anybody in the sports world.

The question of athletes as heroes was on my mind recently as I read a biography of Mickey Mantle. Growing up, I witnessed many future Hall of Famers on the diamond, but two clearly stood out among the rest. Mantle and Willie Mays were simply the best players of their generation.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Bay Area and watch Mays play the last half of his career. In my mind he is still the best all-around player in the history of the game, and many baseball insiders agree. I never got to see Mantle play in-person but it was a given he was in Mays’ class as a player.

Both were “heroes” to kids growing up. Who wouldn’t want to be like them? Mays had a “good guy” image that was never tarnished by any off-the-field scandal. He may have grown surly in retirement (with good reason), but he is still a baseball icon everyone respects.

Mantle is another story. He fit the image of the “boy next door.” He hailed from Oklahoma, married his high school sweetheart, had four sons, and made it to the majors at the age of 19. He had a combination of speed and power that any ballplayer would envy. He hit 536 home runs, captured three Most Valuable Player awards, and played on seven World Series winners in 18 seasons. He purportedly hit the longest home run in major league history when he blasted one an estimated but likely exaggerated 565 feet out of Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., in 1953.

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Book Notes
  • Film examines Lance Armstrong's fall There's nothing more heartwarming than someone overcoming impossible odds and achieving the pinnacle of success. The last thing you want is for that story to fall apart. When it happens to an icon like Lance Armstrong it's even more difficult to accept. He is someone you'd want to admire since he was both a champion and a do-gooder. How does the public react when it all comes crashing down?

    April 24, 2014

  • Libraries provide vital services Some people think that libraries are becoming obsolete due to the Internet and the growing popularity of e-books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Libraries are a repository for more than just the written word and reference materials. They provide a basic need for every community and will for the foreseeable future.

    April 17, 2014

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    April 10, 2014

  • 'Blue Jasmine' shows talent of troubled Allen It's a shame that Woody Allen is caught up in controversy in his personal life because it deflects from his talent as a filmmaker. You can see the brilliance in his most recent release, "Blue Jasmine" now available for rental at the Cooperstown Library.

    April 3, 2014

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    March 27, 2014

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    March 20, 2014

  • Wouk has amazing body of epic work One of the problems with eulogies is that they only seem to occur posthumously. I often wonder why people who have produced something noteworthy aren't honored until after they die and don't get to hear the acclaim they deserve. In that vein I want to recognize an aging classic novelist while he is still with us.

    March 13, 2014

  • 'Miracle' shows when Olympics were pure The Winter Olympics ended recently and somehow they seemed to have lost their luster. It wasn’t so much that they were in Sochi where most of the events were on tape delay. It was more due to the new events (many we have never heard of) that have diluted the games. The Winter Olympics have gone from an intimate edition of their summer counterpart to one where it appears medal counts and commercialism is all that matters.

    March 6, 2014

  • Sometimes bad films, books called 'Classic' About 40 years ago a movie was made that set the standard for overhyped and underwhelming films. It was "The Great Gatsby" starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Redford was the hottest thing in Hollywood at the time and Time Magazine ran a cover story on the film. When it was finally released it completely bombed.

    February 27, 2014

  • British films that will warm your heart With all the snow and sub-zero temperatures this winter there are enough nights where the easiest thing to do is hunker down and enjoy a good movie. I thought I’d offer a few suggestions with a British twist. These are films with Americans that are filmed in England. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ll warm your heart in the end.

    February 20, 2014

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