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Reisler, Jim 1958–

Reisler, Jim 1958–

PERSONAL:

Born September 4, 1958, in Pittsburgh, PA.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Irvington, NY.

CAREER:

Sports journalist.

WRITINGS:

Black Writers/Black Baseball: An Anthology of Articles from Black Sportswriters Who Covered the Negro Leagues, foreword by Don Newcombe, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1994, revised edition, 2007.

Babe Ruth Slept Here: The Baseball Landmarks of New York City, Diamond Communications (South Bend, IN), 1999.

Voices of the Oral Deaf: Fourteen Role Models Speak Out, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 2002.

Before They Were the Bombers: The New York Yankees' Early Years, 1903-1915, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 2002.

Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor) Guys, Dolls, and Curveballs: Damon Runyon on Baseball, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2005.

A Great Day in Cooperstown: The Improbable Birth of Baseball's Hall of Fame, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2006.

The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees: October 13, 1960, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jim Reisler is a sports journalist who has written a number of books, most of which are about the game of baseball. They include Black Writers/Black Baseball: An Anthology of Articles from Black Sportswriters Who Covered the Negro Leagues, which was revised in 2007; Babe Ruth Slept Here: The Baseball Landmarks of New York City; Voices of the Oral Deaf: Fourteen Role Models Speak Out; and Before They Were the Bombers: The New York Yankees' Early Years, 1903-1915.

Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend was published as the Boston Red Sox once again became a challenge to the New York Yankees. This book follows the first year of Babe Ruth's career with the Yankees after he was sold to them by the Red Sox in 1920, resulting in the legendary "Curse of the Bambino," which, it is said, is the reason why the Sox failed to win a World Series for eighty-six years, from 1918 until 2004. Before they sold the Bambino (Ruth), the Red Sox had a stellar record, but Ruth took success with him, and the Yankees became one of the most successful teams in baseball history. The curse ended in 2004 when the Sox beat the Yankees for the American League championship and then went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Ruth drew attention from the Red Sox scandal and took baseball to new heights. The Yankees did not win the Series that year, but did several years later, by which time other Red Sox players had joined Ruth. Ruth was one of the first players named to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he held the home run record until 2001, when it was broken by Barry Bonds. Reisler reports on every game of the 1920 season, the first in Ruth's career with the Yankees, and on Ruth as an icon whose lifestyle fit the image of the "Roaring Twenties." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "there is sure to be some overlap here, but Reisler's telling makes for a fresh take on some familiar topics."

For Guys, Dolls, and Curveballs: Damon Runyon on Baseball, Reisler collected Runyon's baseball writings over three decades, beginning in 1911. A writer for the people, Runyon felt that true fans of the game should get the best seats in the house, which were so expensive that only the wealthy could afford them. Runyon wrote of individual players, not only of their prowess on the field, but also of their personal weaknesses. One article is an account of the 1926 World Series, which included such star players as Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. A Kirkus Reviews writer felt this to be "the standout piece here, though even Runyon's minor sketches and dispatches hold up." The reviewer concluded by describing Guys, Dolls, and Curveballs as "a first-class anthology."

A Great Day in Cooperstown: The Improbable Birth of Baseball's Hall of Fame is Reisler's history of the sports memorial that opened in 1939. The site of Cooperstown, New York, was selected because of a myth created by two businessmen who said that Cooperstown native Abner Doubleday invented the game. Reisler notes the obstacles that were overcome in creating the memorial and provides anecdotal material about each of the first eleven inductees. Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky called the book "a wonderful read."

In The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees: October 13, 1960, Reisler recalls the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, in which the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Yankees ten to nine. Bill Mazeroski's home run in the ninth inning won the series for the Pirates, but other baseball greats contributed to the game and the series, including Roberto Clemente, Bob Friend, and Harvey Haddox of the Pirates and Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris of the Yankees. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that Reisler depicts "the Yankees as a corporate behemoth and the Pirates as a group of misfits and rebels who wrested the top prize from a team often compared to U.S. Steel."

Bob Hoover's review of the book is posted at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online. Hoover commented on the game itself, then cited a number of errors in Reisler's account: "The miscues sully the good intentions of the book and, for fans like me, a dedicated Bucs follower who skipped two days of school for the Series, spoil the fun of recalling the memories. Many mistakes are pure carelessness; a competent copy editor would have caught most of them and Pittsburghers would have snared the rest."

In reviewing the book for PopMatters online, Nav Purewal noted Reisler's comments about contemporary baseball and how kids had more freedom to play stickball in the street or in a vacant lot, undistracted from modern gadgets such as cell phones and electronic games and media players. "Reisler comes across as the type of tiresome curmudgeon who believes childhood amusements were perfected between his fifth and ninth years," wrote Purewal. "Everything earlier was cruel asceticism, everything since is wanton excess." Purewal continued to write that the faults are not confined to the present but also can found in Reisler's general comments and his account of the 1960 game. Purewal acknowledged that Reisler is the first to devote an entire book to this game, thereby providing a history of a seminal moment in baseball. Purewal wrote that "this book's failures are generally limited to its peripheral aspects. When Reisler focuses on the game itself, his knack for storytelling takes over, and he convincingly recreates the sights and sounds of October 13, 1960. Game 7 was just the sort of back-and-forth affair that makes for great spectacle, and inning-by-inning, pitch-by-pitch Reisler is able to ratchet up the tension to the point where even readers intimately familiar with the game's outcome will be thrilled."

Reisler reports on the parts played by players and announcers and fans who included children who skipped school and adults who skipped work to see the game. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that he "calls a good game, deftly intertwining the dramatic back-stories and subplots of the World Series showdown between each pitch." Wes Lukowsky wrote of Reisler that "whatever good work he has done in the past, this is a true labor of love—and it shows."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Journalism Review, October, 1994, review of Black Writers/Black Baseball: An Anthology of Articles from Black Sportswriters Who Covered the Negro Leagues, p. 69.

Booklist, April 15, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of A Great Day in Cooperstown: The Improbable Birth of Baseball's Hall of Fame, p. 20; August, 2007, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees: October 13, 1960, p. 23.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Guys, Dolls, and Curveballs: Damon Runyon on Baseball, p. 110; July 15, 2007, review of The Best Game Ever.

Library Journal, February 1, 1994, review of Black Writers/Black Baseball, p. 80.

New York Times Book Review, May 16, 2004, review of Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend.

Publishers Weekly, January 19, 2004, review of Babe Ruth, p. 60; June 25, 2007, review of The Best Game Ever, p. 42.

Reference & Research Book News, June, 1995, review of Black Writers/Black Baseball, p. 16; November, 2002, review of Voices of the Oral Deaf: Fourteen Role Models Speak Out, p. 122.

ONLINE

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online,http://www.postgazette.com/ (October 21, 2007), Bob Hoover, review of The Best Game Ever.

PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (February 6, 2008), Nav Purewal, review of The Best Game Ever.

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