From time to time I want to spotlight books that might be of interest to Cubs fans, especially books of historical interest. This week, I want to discuss a new book about the key figure in what is probaly the most famous game in the history of the Chicago Cubs, played on September 23, 1908. This book is called "Fred Merkle:Public Bonehead, Private Hero" written by Mike Cameron, in which he tries to humanize a long misunderstood player. Its a very fascinating read, and while its a little flawed, trying to tell the history of baseball and going off on tangents that are totally unrelated to the "Merkle game" such as discussing gambling and game fixing(an interesting subject covered better in other books and, except for an attempted bribe of Bill Klem to fix the make up game, totally irrelevent), it does do a good job of showing the way National League mishandled the whole investigation of the Sept.23 game and the incompetence of NL President Pulliam and I also like the way Cameron discusses Merkles relationship with his daughter and how she helped bring him back to New York many years later where the fans embraced him. Its a very poignant moment and definitely my favorite part of the book. While Im still left feeling like I didnt know Merkle much better than I had, I do appreciate the way Cameron tried to show how ridiculous the whole "Bonehead" thing was, because Merkle was only doing something that was common practice. Still it would have been interesting to know more about how Merkle felt about playing for the team that had helped bring him such humiliation when Merkle ended up with the Cubs in 1917.
But it was still a book that is well worth your time if you are interested in the history of the Cubs and of baseball in general.
If you are interested in ordering this book, here is the publishers