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- Published on Amazon.com
My son Jesse and I have seen a baseball game in every major league ballpark, a feat we completed twice, in 2002 and 2013. Achieving such double milestones, about which we have written and published in a variety of forums, requires a great deal of time together and on the road.
It gave us many hours to talk.
One of our frequent and favorite topics was how we would define America through its built landscape. What are the 10 places that are quintessentially America, that create the American character.
We discussed such landmarks as the St. Louis Arch, Golden Gate Bridge, United States Capitol.
And Wrigley Field.
Not only for their vision and vigor, their sense of pride and place, but also for their sheer joy and mastery of space, these places speak to a brawny, self-assured culture that arose and came of age almost instantly.
Taken this way, each must be considered a national treasure -- Wrigley Field included. Nestled snugly in its urban neighborhood, Wrigley's warmth and intimacy, sense of history and of place, speaks to an easy American democracy, its reverence for its green past in the bricks-and-mortar present.
Is it fair so to freight a hundred-year-old baseball park? I think so.
Further, is it fair to ask a book about a ballpark to measure up to such considerations?
Yes, I believe it is.
Finally, does Les Krantz's Wrigley Field: The Centennial measure up?
Yes, it does. Admirably so.
Richly illustrated, deeply nostalgic, Wrigley Field: The Centennial takes its readers into the park and its history, reveling in people and place, reminding us of just how important is time spent there.
Such a feat is hardly surprising, coming from veteran sportswriter Krantz. Indeed, his books on a wide variety of topics, including Yankee Stadium, simply set the mark for visual delights and crisp readability.
From Wrigley's pre-history in the Federal League to Slammin' Sammy Sosa in the steroid era, Krantz's bright, thorough book is studded with nuggets of sports lore -- high schooler Lou Gehrig literally belting one out of the park to young Bill Veeck planting the iconic outfield ivy, Babe Ruth playing here for two different World Series teams, the rough-and-tumble football days of Sammy Baugh and the brawlin', bruisin' Chicago Bears.
Sid Luckman to Alfonso Soriano, Ken Holtzman to Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux to Carlos Zambrano, Wrigley Field: The Centennial is packed with the insights and images, the place and personalities that have made so many memories on Chicago's North Side.
This is a book to be savored and not to be missed. Highest recommendation!