Readers of this corner of the newspaper know the story of Davis computer software salesman Joe Taxiera and his baseball hobby turned serious pursuit.
Taxiera, a lifelong Giants fan, always wondered how the National Pastime’s great players of different eras stacked up against each other.
He knew guys like Hall of Famer Ty Cobb were great. But what if Cobb played with improved equipment, a livelier ball … better travel and nutrition?
Then again, what if Cobb played against today’s 100 mph pitchers and their bodyguards (specialized closers), in an era when base stealing is no long an art but a crapshoot?
Heck, the choleric Cobb probably wouldn’t have survived the myriad lights of the 21st century’s social media.
In his book, Taxiera studies equipment, trends, team strength, players and the evolution of how those players have been used. He’s wondered about the impact of the steroids era and how different ballparks affected hometown heroes: to wit, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams …
Would the right-handed Yankee Clipper as a member of the Red Sox have been the greatest hitter of all time? Would lefty Williams, hammering away at the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium surpassed Babe Ruth’s home run total?
If countries could have just gotten along, Williams wouldn’t have lost five seasons to military service and probably would have challenged the Bambino anyway.
Taxiera’s hobby-turned-really-cool book is titled “A Unique Look at Big League Baseball.”
It’s the subject here again because, well, it continues to grow in stature, is more easily available, has been improved with different binding (the ring-bound version is kaput), lots more color and pages of new features.
The book, printed in semi-annual editions, is a favorite purchase at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and has been a staple of almost 20 Major League Baseball announcing teams (the Giants were the first to rely on it for on-air fast facts and trivia).
When the first version came out in 2010, it was being printed on Taxiera’s home copier. Today, “A Unique Look …” is available at The Avid Reader, Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com, iTunes, Lulu.com and from the author himself (www.uniquebaseball.com). Hardcopies retail at $49.99. A PDF version or iTunes download is just short of 10 bucks. Taxiera will provide discounted copies with personalized dedications through his website.
But come June 1 at The Avid Reader, folks can hear Taxiera talk about his tome, learn some very, very interesting facts about the evolution of baseball and get one of those autographed, discounted volumes. This event begins at 7:30 p.m. — just in time for graduation and Father’s Day.
Being a baseball fan, when Taxiera provided me with a first-edition copy almost four years ago, it seriously cut into my beauty sleep. With “A Unique Look …” on my bedstand, I didn’t sleep from July to October.
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, the guide coaxes you into the history, evolution and state of the union of our National Pastime.
What started as a single page of information for a friend in 2000 has become a 400-page analysis of baseball.
Marty Lurie — the Giants pre- and post-game show emcee — swears by Taxiera’s book, chats with him during shows and frequent mentions our Davis author/editor. Much of Lurie’s and the San Francisco broadcast team’s trivia questions are lifted right from “A Unique Look …”
Think you know baseball? Check out Taxiera’s Treasure … You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
While I Have You Here: Our sports section wouldn’t be what it is without the help of contributors from the various high school, youth and club sports teams in Davis.
One such “helper” is Korlyn Gibson of the Davis Youth Softball Association.
Each week for more than two months, Gibson has rounded up coaches’ game recap sheets, editing them for spelling and accuracy then passed them along to The Enterprise for compiling in our DYSA Page each Friday (see B2 today).
Gibson, whose husband “big” Tyler coaches their son “little” Tyler in baseball, also has a softball-playing daughter Katie. Busy as Mom Gibson is, she’s been terrific these past two years and we on the sports staff all thank her.
* Making the leap: On Monday, in Davis’ 12-3 baseball loss, Franklin’s Sean Nicholson was dead at home plate. So, with Blue Devil catcher Hayden Duer a little up the third-base line — waiting with ball — Nicholson went airborne.
Over Duer he went, landing close enough to get a hand on the plate.
After some discussion between arbiters, home plate umpire Tom Ramirez ruled Nicholson safe with the Wildcats’ fourth run of the seven-run, seventh-inning explosion.
One of the players’ dad caught the action on tape (Enterprise photographer Fred Gladdis also vividly caught it for last Tuesday’s paper). Now that 14-second film version had earned almost 400,000 YouTube views by Thursday evening.
While it’s fun to see the play, there’s a couple things to ponder …
1.Duer probably tagged Nicholson on the foot. 2. The National Federation of High Schools rule book (citing rule 8-4-2-b-2) says, “Runners are never required to slide … jumping, hurdling and leaping are all legal attempts to avoid a fielder as long as the fielder is laying on the ground. Diving over a fielder is illegal. The penalty for an infraction? The runner is out, the ball is dead immediately, and interference is called …”
Go watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RpXtHWrt-A&feature=player_embedded. You make the call. Duer wasn’t laying on the ground.
Just be happy this game wasn’t 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.