Wayne Stewart, who has written sports articles for the Herald-Standard, has two new baseball books out this spring. Readers who are missing the on-hold baseball season can get their fix by checking out “1960: When the Pittsburgh Pirates Had Them All the Way” and “Wits, Flakes, and Clowns.”
The Pirates book, available exclusively on Amazon, celebrates the 60th anniversary of their stunning win over the mighty New York Yankees in what Stewart calls the wildest, most lopsided World Series ever.
“I was able to interview virtually every living Pirate,” Stewart said. “They shared inside stories, so this book not only covers the 1960 season and the Series in detail, but it discusses individual stars and what made the Pirates a team of destiny.
“That year’s Cy Young Award winner, Vern Law, and the season’s MVP, Dick Groat, were particularly helpful, providing exclusive material for the book and great insights and anecdotes.”
Law stated the book captured “it all — from the preseason through the glory of winning it all in baseball’s most dramatic World Series. It’s a must read for every baseball fan.”
Law and Ken Griffey Sr., who was a high school baseball teammate of Stewart’s, provided comments featured on the book’s cover, and reserve Bob Oldis called the book “the best sports book I have ever read.” He added that the book is “all true, word for word, and the truth was — ‘We had them all the way,’” alluding to the book’s title taken from a phrase often used by Pirates announcer Bob Prince.
Stewart has been promoting his books on radio shows such as one hosted by NBA executive Pat Williams, and is later slated to be on Larry Richert’s morning show on KDKA radio.
Stewart’s other new release, his 35th book to date, features baseball’s most colorful characters. Entitled Wits, Flakes, and Clowns, many former Pirates are included such as Dick Stuart, Andy Van Slyke, Jerry Reuss, Bert Blyleven, and Johnny O’Brien.
Publishers Weekly review of Wits offered praise, “Stewart wildly entertains,” adding that the book details “legendary jokesters and pranksters of the past 70 years, he lists 135 players and managers who craved the limelight while goofing off on the field and in the clubhouse.” The publication listed a few of the book’s subjects, including Mark Fidrych, Bryce Harper, Satchel Paige, Manny Ramirez, Fernando Rodney, and Casey Stengel.
“One of my favorite stories from the 150 interviews I conducted is about the time Yogi Berra was reminiscing with Frank Crosetti, asking the coach if he could remember the first time he had ever seen him,” Stewart said. “Crosetti replied, ‘Sure. You were just coming out of the Navy and were wearing a sailor suit.’ Berra, who had a squat physique, said, ‘I bet you didn’t think I looked like a ballplayer.’ Crosetti shot back, ‘You didn’t even look like a sailor.’
“I included many more obscure, but hilarious players, too. One pitcher named Kirby Higbe had a strong fear of flying. On one flight, a teammate tried to console him, saying there was no need to worry because when a person’s number is up, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the air or on the ground. Higbe replied, ‘Suppose I’m up here with a pilot and my number isn’t up, but his is.’”
Stewart’s other spring release is the updated, second edition of Name That Ballplayer, a quiz book which feeds clues to readers, challenging them to guess the identity of players in question. That book and the Wits, Flakes, and Clowns book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or many other locations.