If you are looking for a good introductory book for a young Red Sox fan, check out David Green's 101 Reasons To Love The Red Sox. Green grew up in North Carolina and fell in love with the Red Sox as an eight-year-old in 1967.
Each of his reasons gets at least a few sentences -- some are a full page -- and often a photo, which are very well chosen. There are excellent shots of the Royal Rooters (#9), 1915-16 manager Bill Carrigan (#28), the Red Seat (#49) and Bill Lee (#71).
There is succinct information on Smoky Joe Wood (#17), the great Red Sox outfield of the mid-1910s: Duffy Lewis (#19), Tris Speaker (#21), and Harry Hooper (#20), Babe Ruth's pitching performances (#29), and Jimmie Foxx (#45). In the entry on Harry Frazee (#31), proper weight is given to management's battles with Ruth.
However, there are obvious errors in the book. Green repeats the incorrect tidbit that Mickey Mantle went 1-for-63 with 47 strikeouts against Dick "The Monster" Radatz (#64). In truth, Mantle was 3-for-16 with 12 whiffs.
Also, in the entry for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (#75), Green states pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo hit the second pitch he saw for a game-tying home run. It was the fifth pitch; indeed, it was Carbo's horrifically bad swing on the fourth pitch, for strike two, that made his homer to dead center less than a minute later so amazing. With resources like Baseball Reference and Retrosheet available to everyone, there is no excuse for these kinds of mistakes.
Some of the 101 reasons are simply strange: the Curse (#34), the city of Boston itself (#35) and sitcom character Mayday Malone (#87). These choices, among others, make the book feel padded, as though Green had to stretch to come up with enough selling points. But since many individual achievements are among his reasons for rooting, like Roger Clemens's two 20-K games (#83) and Bill Mueller's two grand slam night in 2003 (#94), Green should have used more of those.
Pedro Martinez's 9-1-1-0-17 night in Yankee Stadium on September 10, 1999 or Johnny Damon hitting a single, double and triple in the first inning on June 27, 2003 are obvious possibilities. Digging up a rare gem from the team's dark ages of 1922-33 would have been an unexpected touch.
Green also includes 10 quick reasons to hate the Yankees, claiming that "no one is loathed more in Red Sox Nation" than George Steinbrenner. I do not agree with that assertion. (Green also says the 1978 Dent game denied the Red Sox "a berth in the World Series".)
The book is part of an on-going series. In addition to the Red Sox, Green has written books on the Cubs, Mets, Tigers and Giants. His older brother Ron has written about the Yankees, Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers, and Braves.
I was sent a copy of the 2005 hard cover with Ted Williams (#47) on the cover. An updated edition is available with David Ortiz (#99) on the front.
CONTEST: I have an extra copy of this book (TSW edition) to give away. To enter, send me an email with your name and address, with "101 Reasons" (or something like that) in the subject line. I'll accept entries for three days -- until Tuesday at 7 PM. On Wednesday, I'll pick a name from the hat.