Review by Budd Bailey
Sometimes I think I’ve been reading a little too much lately – at least on a particular subject. I can blame retirement, at least in part, of course, although there’s probably something else at work.
Case in point: “Boston Red Sox,” by Sean McAdam. It seems like the first in a series of books about sports teams, based on “The Franchise” going on the cover in good-sized letters. The subtitle is more interesting: “A Curated History of the Sox.”
The use of curated jumped out at me. It means “selected, organized, and presented using professional or expert knowledge.” McAdam certainly qualifies. I’ve been reading his material for years, and he’s been a fine reporter about all things Boston Red Sox for many years. McAdam used to write for the Providence Journal; now he’s with BostonSportsJournal.com.
It’s a history of the team in a sense, but it is presented in an unusual manner. The book is not particularly interested in a complete history. It simply gives some broad categories – History, The Media, The Rivalry, the Icons, The Aces, Just Missed, The Golden Age, and Transformative Figures – and then has a few essays for each category. If you’ve been paying attention to Boston’s baseball history, you can guess how it might work. Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski aand David Ortiz re considered Icons, Just Missed covers the 1967, 1978 and 1986 seasons, The Aces are Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Each championship season in this century gets a chapter too.
If you getting the idea that there’s not a heck of a lot of information about life before, say, 1960, you’d be right. The creation of the team and its early champions and stars are pretty much ignored. I’m OK with that, since there are plenty of other sources for such material. But the point that this is selective and comprehensive history.
The story of the championship seasons and the near-misses probably can be recited by rote by many of those in Sox Nation. The accounts are in here, and it’s easy to wonder if a fresh audience can be found there. I’d also guess that the story of the Icons and the Aces are familiar to most.
That essentially leaves only a couple of the eight sections that feel quite fresh. Three media members receive profiles: Ned Martin, Peter Gammons and Jerry Remy. The Transformative Figures are Dick O’Connell, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona. There are no complaints with any of those names and their inclusion here, and McAdam does a good job of explaining who they are and why they matter in the story of the Red Sox.
This checks in at under 300 pages, and the stories flow quite well. We’re obviously in skilled hands here – a good curator of the information, if you will.
“Boston Red Sox,” then serves its intended purpose nicely; it gives an overview of the franchise’s history with an emphasis on recent times. It might not be filled with new information about the team’s background, but don’t blame the author for that. Blame your own reading habits.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)