Harvey Frommer & Frederic Frommer

Growing Up Baseball : An Oral History

(Taylor Publishing Company, 2001 Hardcover;  ISBN: 0878331867)

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What they have said about the book:


The Frommers interviewed 69 former big leaguers from Dwight "Red" Adams who played just eight games in the majors, to Don Zimmer who seems like he's been in baseball so long he could have been Abner Doubleday's bench coach. The book records the stories of former kids who made it to the major leagues, most of whom started out playing catch and games for hours, sometimes dreaming of bigger fields and far away places. It's an oral history, so the ballplayers' stories are told in their own words, sometimes pedestrian, sometimes poingnant. They concentrate on the journey to the big leagues from the backyard games of catch to the first major league game. This is a book for baseball junkies. It's readable and light.


SPEAKING OF SPORTS, August 20, 2001,

"MAKE SURE YOU GET THIS BOOK!!! The Frommers,a father-son team, cover all the bases. This book is a rich and varied montage of so many aspects of the national pastime - a job, a book well done. "


BOOKS IN PRINT, October 15, 2001,

Contains a rich & varied montage of memories from baseball players & fans across generations & cultures.


FRED WALLIN, SPORTS BIZ/TALK SHOW Los Angeles, October 9, 2001,

"Harvey Frommer, who has written 'a million baseball books' and his son Frederic, who has written his first one, have written the oral history - - GROWING UP BASEBALL. I enjoyed it. The book underscores the old Roy Campanella quote: 'To play this game, you've got to have a lot of little boy in you.' If you love the game of baseball, pick up this book, GROWING UP BASEBALL."


IRV KAZE on SPORTS/KRLA , Sports Show Host, September 24, 2001,

Very exciting reading in this oral history of some 70 players ranging in reputation and era. How they got started on the road to the majors is told in detail with emotion and impact. The book is great reading. Oral histories come from such as Dom DiMaggio, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Keith Hernandez,Bob Feller, Don Zimmer,Todd Zeile, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Bobby Brown, Scott Brosius, etc. A first for the father and son writing team of prolific author Harvey Frommer and his son Frederic.



What little boy hasn't dreamed of making it to the major leagues! How many fathers hope to see their sons play for teams such as the Yankees or the Red Sox? There are hundreds of books about the game, but Growing Up Baseball is the first oral history that reveals the dreams of a select few who actually made it to the major leagues. In their own words, players like Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller, "Sparky" Anderson, Jim Palmer, and Bob Tewksbury share their early memories of playing catch with their dads or baseball with their brothers in the neighborhood or on the farm. These experiences ignited the dream and indelibly shaped the futures of the sixty-nine players highlighted in this book authored by father and son, Harvey and Frederic Frommer. During their first-hand interviews, the authors discovered such interesting facts as: 

  • Dom DiMaggio polished his fielding skills playing catch with brother Joe on the steep hills of San Francisco 

  • Bob Feller was lucky to have a father who built him a complete baseball field in a pasture on their Des Moines, Iowa far m in 1930-the first "Field of Dreams." 

  • Keith Hernandez started at age five to catch and hit tennis balls thrown to him by his minor league infielder father. 

  • Monte Irvin played many years in the Negro Leagues until his dream of making it to the majors came true at age 51. 

  • Bob Tewksbury still has memories of wet baseballs from playing in the early spring snows of New Hampshire. 

From baseball's greatest players to those less frequently remembered, the heart-warming stories in Growing Up Baseball are a reminder that there is a time in a player's career when everything seems possible.



"In the great tradition of Lawrence Ritter's Glory of their Times and Donald Honig's Baseball When the Grass Was Real, Mr. Frommer and his son, Frederic, offer an oral history with a narrowed and fascinating focus: players' personal stories of the role baseball played in their youths. Everyone will have his or her favorite players in the bunch, especially since the wide variety includes old-timers and current players, stars and scrubs, blacks, Latinos, Jews (Al Rosen and Shawn Green), and sons (Dale Berra) and brothers (Ken Brett ) of superstars. Everyone's represented and, as in Mr. Ritter's book, they please us by having loved the game as we'd have hoped and by pretty uniformly looking back fondly on their experiences.

There's a minor but representative moment when Joey Amalfitano is about to sign his first contract and has to go get his father off of a fishing boat where he works:
He was in his working clothes. I introduced him to the two scouts, Ebo and Dutch. We sat in the living room. He signed the contract.

Then they got up, and my father said to me in Italian, "Take me back to the boat."

So I drove him back. My father asked, "What did you sign for?"--meaning what kind of money did you sign for.

I said, "$35,000."

He said, "America is a great country."

In both these books we get to see, once again, how baseball knits together generations of Americans, gives us memories we share first with brothers, fathers and grandfathers and then with sons and grandsons. So, I never got to see Ralph Kiner play, but as a Mets announcer he explained games to me for thirty years, and now, thanks to the Frommers, here he is again sharing stories of his youth and of the game he loves and that he helped me and my brother learn to love. And so his growing up baseball melds into ours. America really is a great country and baseball its great game."


Arnold Dean, WTIC, Sports Talk

"Ambitious, very interesting. The wonderful oral histories humazines the players so much."


Growing Up Baseball Review, by Amy Cohen 1/07/2002 @ baseballologu.com

"The title and premise intrigued me. A series of mini-bios told in the first person by men who had actually made it to the "Big Leagues". I was looking for an answer, into my own psyche perhaps as to why the game is so compelling. Why do I stay up late for Opening Day and to watch every possible minute of the World Series? Why is Opening Day for my home team so important that I consider it a national holiday and have not missed an opening day game most of my adult life, even traveling over 300 miles to be there.

Why are celebrities like Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Kevin Kostner and Billy Crystal so obviously obsessed with the game. Even presidents are drawn to the game, our current president owned a team, Bill Clinton is said to be "bonkers about baseball". It is not just America that is taken with the game. The Japanese passion is well documented as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. I thought if I could hear in their own words what brought many major leaguers to the game I could find a commonality and understand why I am so gripped by the game.

In Growing Up Baseball players from the past and present, ones who had afleeting time in the major leagues to ones who are icons- discuss their intimate childhood memories of the game. Players who grew up with and without TV and /or in areas where there was no access to major or minor league teams and areas where cities have several major league teams all have the same passion for the game.

Chuck Stevens - Played three years for the St. Louis Browns. Grew up occasionally hearing games on the radio and reading ticker tape reports of World Series games. But spent 23 years in the Browns organization.

Scott Brosius - NY Yankees third baseman, knew he wanted to be a major leaguer from age three, but never saw a major league game until he was drafted by the Oakland A's at 22-years old.

Jose Cardenal -Native of Cuba whose whole family's life was devoted to baseball. His father played, his older brother played for the Army League, his cousin is Bert "Campy" Campaneris and his sister was the only female official scorer in Cuba. Signed by the Giants but couldn't get very much playing time due to the existing outfield of Mays, McCovey and the Alou brothers, was later traded and played 18 years in the majors.

The stories recount tales of parents who encouraged, parents who discouraged. Idols who became mentors. Boys who became men.

While Growing Up Baseball was not able to give me insight into my own obsession it does give intimate details and takes a peak into the childhood of majors leaguers who we love so much and always wanted to be."


From Society For American Baseball Research

"This is a collection of interviews creating the first oral history of the "growing up years" of some of baseball's greatest heroes. The book presents unique and personal memories from legends like Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, Dom DiMaggio, Keith Hernandez and others. The players recall their journeys, joys and struggles from childhood play to major league debut."


The Book Shelf/Purebaseball.com

"Growing Up Baseball is another type of oral history, one which encompasses a common theme. In this case, as the title indicates, current and former major leaguers relate their introduction to the game. Most, as tradition might dictate, learned at the feet of dad, the pastoral image of fathers and sons playing catch. Some praise the help of a little league, high school or college coach as pointing them in the right direction. Those who share their experiences run the gamut from all-time legends such as Bob Feller and Ralph Kiner to today's role players like Darryl Hamilton and Adam Kennedy. It also spans the decades, from Elden Auker, who first pitched for the Tigers in 1933 to players currently plying their trade. It's eye-opening to see the differences between the childhood experiences of a Feller and the modern player: the advantages of the latter (and not just financially) makes one wonder why the quality isn't better. Frommer, with the help of his son, does his usual excellent job, whether the topic is New York City baseball, Joe Jackson or photographic compilations."


Growing Up Baseball/Boy of Summer.com

"Harvey Frommer and his son Frederick must have had a fantastic time writing Growing Up Baseball (Taylor Trade Publishing, Hardcover $23.95). Together this tandem collected dozens of stories of major leaguers for this unique piece of literature. From A to Zeile, from Hall-of-Famers like Jim Palmer and Ralph Kiner to relative nobodies like Ed Yarnall and Lazaro Ramon Gonzalo "Cholly" Naranjo, there is something for everybody here.

There are interesting little tidbits of information here, like that Dale Berra's dad never really played catch with him, "That's what you've got brothers for." Even more surprising is that this reality did not turn young Dale off to baseball. Dom DiMaggio used to hide his coke-bottle glasses whenever scouts would come around, so as not to bias their opinions of him. Think how good he could have been if he could see!

What This Book Is: A collection of charming little vignettes about growing up as a baseball fan and/or a baseball player. Some of your favorite baseball personalities relating how they managed to grasp a small slice of the American Dream. Easily read and comprehended pieces of times gone by, and some fairly recent memories, related so comfortably that you can almost see the succession of men in your own living room, taking their turns in your easy chair and telling their own stories.

Perhaps the most engaging aspect of this book is that it really isn't written by Harvey and Frederick Frommer as much as it was dictated to them by the individuals featured in the book. Each little (Fred Lynn's is not so little) story is told in the first person as they dictated it to the authors, so you can almost hear Nolan Ryan's Texas drawl or Manny Mota's Dominican accent as you read, and you can tell from his speech that Bobby Brown is quite an educated man, even before he tells you that he was a cardiologist and spent a great deal of time as President of the American League.

What This Book Is Not: Well, it's not really a book that lends itself to being read straight through. There are almost seventy mini-chapters here, and many of them relate similar details: Several of these men were accomplished athletes during their youths, often in sports other than baseball as well. Many of them had to work hard at another occupation, or grew up in relatively meager circumstances before striking it rich in the majors.

You're better off taking this slowly, reading a story or two at a time, in your leisure. Savor these stories. Enjoy them, instead of trying to wolf them all down in order to get a timely review written, like I did.

You'll thank me later. When you grow up."



"A new book is out that takes an original approach to baseball. "Growing up baseball, an oral history," lets players tell their stories in their own words.

Among those who write about their childhood baseball memories: Mark Grace, Bob Feller, Dom DiMaggio, Sam McDowell, Don Larsen and Mike Scioscia, manager of the Anaheim Angels, who vanquished the Giants in the World Series.

By Harvey and Frederic Frommer, the book is a quick and satisfying read about the innocent youth of baseball stars."


From the Inside Flap

"Growing Up Baseball An Oral History What little boy hasn't dreamed of making it to the major leagues! How many fathers hope to see their sons play for teams such as the Yankees or the Red Sox? There are hundreds of books about the game, but Growing Up Baseball is the first oral history that reveals the dreams of a select few who actually made it to the major leagues. In their own words, players like Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller, "Sparky" Anderson, Jim Palmer, and Bob Tewksbury share their early..."

Noted oral historian Harvey Frommer joins his son Frederic in collecting interviews and published commentary together with photos to create the first thorough oral history of the "growing up" years of baseball's greatest heroes.

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