San Francisco Book Review
by Alex C. Telander
Star Rating: 5 / 5
Works of art come in all shapes and sizes and types, and when it comes to sports books, there are a lot of them out there, many of them on the subject of baseball. Hometown Heroes is a special kind of baseball book, because in addition to being a beautifully-designed coffee table book, it focuses on those unique baseball players who spent their entire careers with a single team.
Author Clay Sigg knows his baseball: he's a devout aficionado who has visited all thirty current major-league ballparks as well as eleven big-league stadiums that aren’t around anymore. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and the Society for American Baseball Research. When one reads through the many pages of Hometown Heroes, one can see this is book is very much a labor of love.
Over 18,000 players have graced the fields of the major leagues, but only 177 of them have ever dedicated all their years to one team. Each of these players receives a two-page spread in Hometown Heroes, with at least two photos of the player as well as a quote from someone who knew or was familiar with the player. Sigg provides a detailed insight into the player’s career and highlights. And at the bottom of each left-hand page are the player’s impressive stats.
Starting with a lengthy introduction from the author, the book is divided into seven parts and littered with wonderful photos from various historical periods: The Deadball Era, The Roaring Twenties, The Depression 30s, World War II and the Golden Era, The Expansion Era, Free Agency and the Modern Era, and The Steroids Era. After an entertaining foreword by renowned player and manager Dusty Baker, the table of contents in itself is a work of art: it's laid out clearly and organized so that the player and their details are available at the turn of a page.
Hometown Heroes is very well priced at $60, being a substantial (and pretty heavy) coffee-table book with almost four hundred pages. Many famous names will leap out at you no matter what level of baseball fan you may be. Many are from the early days of the American pastime, such as Walter Johnson, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, or Hal Schumacher. And plenty of names are from the more recent era and have become Hall of Fame members, or will be in the near future: Jeff Bagwell, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, and the closer who will never be forgotten, one Mariano Rivera.
Hometown Heroes is the ideal Christmas gift for that grandfather, uncle, or cousin who’s a real baseball nut and delights in showing off his baseball books and the many facts he knows about the game. Whether you’re a mild fan of the game or a dedicated aficionado like the author, the book makes a great gift for yourself or that special family member or friend.
December 5, 2017