Now that the school year is over, and I have finished grading all of the finals and essays, I think I should have some more time to blog. I have a number of ideas for posts that I want to get to, and as I am in the middle of a reorganization (cleaning up the mess I have created) a number of trade packages will be mailed out in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a few thoughts about a fantastic book that may not focus exclusively on baseball, but does offer some wonderful insights and anecdotes about the sport.
700 Sundays by Billy Crystal
I am sure that most are familiar with the material in this book, as Crystal went on to adapt it to a One-Man show on Broadway, and later HBO produced a special of this show.
I did, however, want to share my impression of this book, as I found it to be one of the more emotional reads I have encountered.
The premise of the book is Crystal’s recollection of the roughly 700 Sundays that he spent with his father, who died suddenly when Billy was 15. Throughout the book, he shares deeply personal stories of the joy, humor, respect, and sadness of those 700 days. He focuses on Sundays as his father worked 6 days a week in order to support his family, so Sunday was the only day that Billy could spend time with his father.
Some of the more poignant memories are those that are related to sports, especially baseball. Those who are familiar with Crystal know he is a lifelong fan of the game: he played for the New York Yankees during a spring training game in 2008, and he is a part-owner of the Diamondbacks. It is in this book that Crystal shares his childhood memories of going to Yankee Stadium for this first time, getting to meet his idol, Mickey Mantle, and visiting the Yankees locker room.
More touching, however, is Crystal’s recollection of his father teaching him to hit a curveball. As Billy constantly ducked out of the way, his father continued to lovingly pitch, encouraging Billy to be patient and fearless.
Sports were a big part of Crystal’s relationship with his father, so my connection with this book is deeply personal: I was 12 when my dad had a tragic accident that left him without the use of his right arm. I was lucky; my father lived. But we had to find other ways to connect, as sports had been an integral part of our relationship.
Of course, Crystal’s humor and witticism are a constant, which creates a wonderful balance; I don’t know of another book that has made me laugh out loud and cry so hard.
This autobiography isn’t weighted down with needless stats or prideful recollections of broken records, nor does it doesn’t offer insight into the behind the scenes world of sports. It is a heartfelt story of a boy who is able to connect with his father on those 700 Sundays that they had together.