Given the Mets mediocre start, two books can offer Mets fans a pleasant diversion. One is the 40th Anniversary Edition of a book that’s included in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Sports Books. The other is a new book by a blogger who’s been a Mets fan for 40 years.
The new edition is of A Magic Summer. Its subtitle describes what the book’s about: “The Amazin’ Story of the 1969 New York Mets.” Written by Stanley Cohen, the new edition includes more photographs and a new introduction. The book’s written in journalistic style; however, it’s not dry.
As an example of Cohen’s skill, here’s a sample:
There is a special allure attached to rooting for a loser. It is a no-risk proposition that offers immunity from the despair of defeat while extending the promise of unexpected triumph. For the underdog, every victory has a spiritual message; it speaks of the conquest of forces larger than itself. Winners, and those who back them, carry with them always the relentless burden of their own success.
In contrast, the other book’s title, Faith And Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, reflects its author’s fanatical following of the team that returned National League baseball to the Big Apple. Whereas Cohen wrote his book in the third person, Greg W. Prince created a hybrid, writing it in primarily in first person. And while Cohen stuck to providing information about the Mets, Prince often detours.
In one case, he shares his first trip to Shea Stadium at age 10. It was on a day camp field trip. After sharing a bit about the game, which the Mets lost, he closes the chapter by sharing that about two o’clock the campers were given their box lunches. Unfortunately, the “salami sandwiches didn’t travel well,” so didn’t stay in his stomach long.
As a long-time Mets fan who once became ill after eating peanuts at Ebbets Field, I didn’t need to know about his salami sandwich. In fact, it wasn’t even nice to know.
Prince’s book is unique in that it offers a fan’s view. His writing style also differs significantly from Cohen’s. Here’s a sample paragraph in which Prince describes a homer that Darryl Strawberry hit:
An Astro error allowed one run. Then Darryl Strawberry willed three more. He pulled a Knepper pitch down the line, fair enough, one Loge above the fence. He hit more majestic moon shots normally. This was one was relatively earthbound but had the requisite gravity behind it to tie the game at four. It, like I, was plenty high.
The bottom line: If you’re interested in reading a book written primarily as an historical accounting that will let you relive one of the Mets’ greatest seasons, read Cohen’s book; however, if you prefer to read sports books that are as much autobiographical as historical, read Prince’s book.