April 29, 2011
Friday 5: Matthew Silverman
The difference...he gets paid to write books about it.
Silverman has penned a number of books about the sport and his latest opus, Baseball Miscellany, is full of answers to 27 questions you didn't know you didn't know.
Why 27? Because that's the same number of outs necessary to get a win.
HOVG: Right out of the gate, I’ve gotta ask…what prompted you to pen Baseball Miscellany?
SILVERMAN: They asked me and it sounded like fun. I did the by the by the Numbers book series (histories of the Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox as told through the uniform numbers) for Skyhorse Publishing with different co-authors. Baseball Miscellany taught me, and I hope readers, a lot about the game. History and tradition are as much a draw to the game as anything else, which makes baseball unique among American sports.
HOVG: There are plenty of baseball books out there that claim to be everything one needs to know about the sport and you put that right on the cover. What makes your take on the subject different than some of the others out there?
SILVERMAN: I try to be thorough and authoritative without dulling down the subject. For instance, I wanted to explain how some of the not so obvious team names came about, such as the Mets, the Rays and the Astros. Then after I dug into it, I said, "Well, I just have to do all the teams." So I traced the history of the names of all 30 clubs, including some info on defunct names. It's actually like 30 questions in one. And you'll know that a Royal didn't come about from some Anglofiles in Kansas City.
HOVG: The New York Mets have had a colorful history and have put a number of characters (greats and otherwise) out on the field. Outside of two collaborations (Cubs by the Numbers and Red Sox by the Numbers), you’ve written mostly about the Mets, so, clearly, one could deduce that you’re a fan of the team. Let’s play Gutzon Borglum and put the hammer and chisel in your hands…who do you carve into your Mets Mt. Rushmore? And why?
SILVERMAN: I was just working on this very conundrum for an upcoming book. After much study, internal debate, number busting, and asking some former Mets their opinions, I came up with (Tom) Seaver, (Dwight) Gooden, (Darryl) Strawberry and (Jerry) Koosman for Mount Metmore. I would have thought (Mike) Piazza would be there, but after his first four years with the club, his bat slowed down. (David) Wright hasn't made the rock just yet, but keep the chisel ready. I think Kooz is probably the surprise, but his first two seasons are as good as the first two years of any Mets rookie this side of Gooden. Kooz won twice in the '69 World Series, never lost a postseason game, won 20 (and lost 20 the next year), and went five starts without allowing a run as the '73 Mets made their run. His problems with his tax returns are another matter, but he's got (Lenny) Dykstra beat by a mile when it comes to finance and honesty. Seaver is so far ahead of everyone else on the rock that it's scary.
HOVG: What are you reading now? What’s out there that you would recommend?
SILVERMAN: Recent baseball books I've read include Big Hair and Plastic Grass by Dan Epstein, Major League Bride by Kathleen Lockwood ('70s reliever Skip Lockwood's wife) and I'm just getting into the latest book by my old boss and new MLB historian John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden. Since man (and woman) does not live by baseball alone, I've just finished Sleepwalking in Daylight by an high school English classmate, Elizabeth Flock, and a book on audio version of Run by Anne Patchett that has guided me through a couple of long journeys to Citi Field and back.
HOVG: So what’s next? Do you have another project already lined up…or are you seeing how this latest book does?
SILVERMAN: There's Golf Miscellany coming out next year. It will follow a similar format but obviously deals with a different subject, though there is a chapter I've already worked on about athletes in other sports gravitating to golf. It can be fun getting out of your comfort zone, but you always find yourself back at the well... I'm working on a book on New York's most colorful and agonizing team next year: Best Mets. Out now is New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History.
HOVG: Lastly, and this isn’t a question, but I read a review that blasts the use of a Tony Bernazard photo on page 107. Now, while it isn’t the best photo of the former infielder…it is Tony Bernazard AND he is donning the powder blue of the Montreal Expos. I guess what I’m trying to say is…thank you for that.
SILVERMAN: If you had an "in action" Tony Bernazard picture at your disposal, why wouldn't you use it? And if Tony Bernazard is going to be pictured with a shirt on, it really should be powder blue with the "elb" Expos logo. Merci.
Matthew Silverman's career as a writer began more than 20 years ago. He has authored, co-authored and edited numerous publications pertaining to Baseball, Football and sports in general. You can check out his website (and the always entertaining "Reflections of a Mets Life") over at MetSilverman.com.
And the best thing about Silverman...his book Baseball Miscellany (you can read a review HERE) can be yours if you hit up The Hall's Facebook page. Just CLICK THIS LINK!