Saturday, May 14, 2016

UPCOMING BOOK RELEASE: Baseball's Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them

Anyone who has read my postings over the past several years knows that I'm not very diligent about promoting my own work. I've never felt terribly comfortable as a salesman. With that having been said, I do have a book coming out in July through the Rowman and Littlefield publishing group. Entitled: Baseball's Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them, the book provides an in-depth look at the greatest teams of all time from the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s to the San Francisco Giants of the 2010s. The project originally had a working title of: Other Guys: Unsung Heroes of Baseball's Greatest Teams.  As the name implies, my research was focused on the contributions of lesser known players. But the folks in the editorial department at Rowman weren't crazy about the idea. They felt that I would reach a wider audience by limiting my scope to profiles of superstars and Hall of Famers. For all I know, they're probably right. As I said before, I'm no marketing expert. But I thought there might be some folks out there who would enjoy reading the player profiles that were cut from the original manuscript. Over the next few months, I will be featuring them in this blog. I suppose Chapter One is as good a place as any to start. 

(By the way, the book is set for release on July 16th. Right now, you can pre-order it at Amazon for a significant discount. Once it's released, the price will go up by more than thirty percent.)

And now--Without further ado, here's a lost profile from Chapter One.

Best Record: 90-39 (1896)
Number of Pennants: 3
Hall of Fame Players: Wilbert Robinson (C), John McGraw (IF), Willie Keeler (OF), Joe Kelley (OF), Hughie Jennings (SS), Ned Hanlon (Mgr)
Championships: 2 (1896, 1897, Temple Cup)   


Second Base

Born in Chicago, Reitz got his first taste of professional baseball in the California League during the 1890 slate. He bounced around the minors for three seasons before the Orioles purchased his contract. Installed as a regular second baseman, Reitz had a highly successful debut, hitting .286 in 130 games with 90 runs scored and 76 RBIs. Despite his contributions, the O’s slumped to a 60-70 record in 1893, landing them in eighth place.

During the Orioles’ Temple Cup run of ‘94-‘97, Reitz was a productive member of the club every year with batting averages ranging from .287 to .303. He drove-in more than 100 runs twice in that span. His crowning achievement came in 1894 when he collected 31 triples, tying a single-season record. The mark has been surpassed only once since then—by Chief Wilson of the Pirates in 1912.

Reitz never came close to matching his ’94 output for triples and ended up getting packaged in a six-player trade to Washington in December of ‘97. After hitting .303 in 132 games for the Senators, he was shipped to Pittsburgh after the’98 season was over. Outfielder Tom Brown commented that Reitz was “near perfection in gauging swift grounders” and added that “no finer hand-worker ever lived.” Reitz remained active in the minors through the 1908 campaign. A drinker and carouser, he allegedly went missing three times while playing for the Spokane Smoke Eaters of the Pacific Northwestern League in 1902.

In 1914, Reitz became the first major league ballplayer to die in a car accident. He was only forty-seven years old. At the time of his passing, sportswriter John Gruber of The Washington Evening Star wrote: “Henry P. Reitz was soon accounted one of the brightest among the galaxy of luminaries. Besides being a first class fielder, he was a safe batter and a skillful base runner.”


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