FanPost

Book Review: "Tales From the Detroit Tigers Dugout"

"Tales from the Detroit Tigers Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Tigers Stories Ever Told" may not completely live up to its name, but the updated book from long-time Michigan sportswriter Jack Ebling mixes the stories of current and recent Tigers players and staff with the greats of Tigers history for a readable, if slightly shallow, look at our favorite team.

The most unusual thing about this book is the way that it begins with modern Tigers history -- effectively the Dombrowski era -- and goes through discussions of Dave Dombrowski, Jim Leyland, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and the 2006-2011 Tigers in general before taking a turn and diving back into history to tell the stories of Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Willie Horton and the 1968 team. It then stops to revisit "colorful characters" in Norm Cash, Denny McLain, Mark Fidrych, Kirk Gibson and Jose Valverde; returns to history with the 1984 squad; stops to discuss 12 notable "other squads" from Tigers history; spends a chapter on the team's managers (at least the ones that made the postseason); then discusses great hitters, great pitchers and great fielders, among other topics. Finally, the author returns to the present day to go in depth into the 2006 and 2011 postseason runs. (The book is up to date enough to reference the acquisition of Prince Fielder.) It's this scattershot approach to organization that makes it hard to follow a narrative thread and makes the book read less like a coherent whole and more like a collection of unrelated vignettes.

This is a 2012 update of a book originally published in 2007, one of a series from a publisher that hires legitimate sportswriters to produce "Tales from the..." books about sports franchises. (For example, "Tales from the Detroit Pistons" was written for the same publisher by Detroit Free Press Pistons beat reporter Perry Farrell.) As such, it's got a bit of a cookie-cutter feel to it, and while I read it in the Kindle edition and can't speak to the layout in the dead-tree version, it was extremely light on the kind of quality photography that usually accompanies the best sports books, and for which publishers have to pay rights-holders. (To be fair, there was an awesome shot of Ty Cobb "sliding" so high into a catcher that he appeared to be karate kicking him in the groin that I'd never seen before.)

Overall, I'd say that a hardcore Tigers fan will probably find a story or fact that might be new to them, but overall this is written for a more casual fan. It would be an excellent introduction to Tigers history for younger fans who wonder who those people are in the statues and listed on the right field wall at Comerica, and there's nothing inappropriate about the content for younger readers.

You'll probably find at least a couple of stories or facts that you didn't know before -- I didn't realize that Charlie Gehringer averaged a strikeout every two weeks in 1936 and was the first MLB player to hit for the natural cycle -- and there's few enough books about the Tigers out there that it's a legitimate addition to your library, especially if you've got younger or newer Tigers fans in your life.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.

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