Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SCP Gives History a Boost like Ken Burns

Ken Burns is doing a great thing for Americans. He is helping to make our history come alive in yet another superb documentary; this one is called Prohibition. Prohibition is a three-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the American law that set out to protect us from the tragic effects of alcohol abuse.

According to Prohibition's PBS web page, Burns newest documentary has a particular currency for us today: "...a compelling saga that goes far beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rum runners, flappers, and speakeasies...raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American."

According to TV by the Numbers the first part of Prohibition attracted 3.9 million viewers coming in well ahead of Burns "The Tenth Inning," a sequel to his masterpiece "Baseball" documentary.

Like Ken Burns and PBS, we at Sporting Chance Press are doing our bit (on a much more modest scale) to make history come alive. We published two very fine baseball books: The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy Principles for Baseball (and Life) and Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle. Like Burns' documentaries, our books bring history alive by setting the historical context of important events and adding historic photos and mixing in great stories.

In The 10 Commandments of Baseball, author J.D. Thorne provides a personal look at baseball that keys in on Joe McCarthy's simple 10 Commandments. McCarthy's legend was great in the middle of the 20th Century as the legendary Cubs-Yankee-Red Sox manager who continues to hold the highest winning percentage in baseball. Thorne dusts the legend off and make it come alive with stories that illustrate McCarthy's maxims from the golden age of baseball. The historical characters who illustrate McCarthy's principles, are more colorful than comic strips and accessible to baseball lovers from 10 to 100. Short and sweet, The 10 Commandments include a selection of vintage baseball photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It has been lovingly called a perfect "airplane" book that you won't want to leave on the plane."

Public Bonehead, Private Hero is another historic baseball book. In Public Bonehead, the author, Mike Cameron, a life-long baseball fan sets out to show baseball readers that not only was Fred Merkle a likeable, flesh and blood character, he was a scapegoat who was caught in the crossfire of an newly enforced rule and the muckraking press. Cameron sets the stage for the dramatic 1908 season and Merkle Game and it's aftermath. He takes readers back to the unique Progressive Age of Teddy Roosevelt, the Model T, the Wright brothers and newspapers at their most powerful peak.

Baseball fans are often appreciative history-book readers. The 10 Commandments of Baseball and Public Bonehead, Private Hero are written by fans, for fans. Both books are available at Sporting Chance Press.

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