Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Two-For

This morning Fenway 1912 was number #7 on the Boston Globe nonfiction hardcover bestseller list. The Best American Sports Writing 2011 was #8 on the nonfiction paperback list. http://http//

I'll be back in Boston in December to sign more books, and at the Barnes and Noble in Burlington, Vermont on November 26.

For those readers in New York, I am scheduled to appear on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC the morning of November 4, and then will be doing a signing at the Red Sox bar, Professor Thom's, 219 second Aveue at 6:00pm that evening. This might be your only NY chance to have abook signed for the holidays.

Beer and chicken will be optional.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's Play Ball

It was a little over eight years ago that we moved up here to the border, and a few months after we arrived, Sappho, our beautiful Lab/Shepherd./Chesapeake/God knows what/ mix of a dog who ruled me died of complications from epilepsy. I was out of town when she got sick and she died at the vets just after I got back.

When you work at home, all the time, the living things around you are really important. There’s no one down the hall to grab a coffee with or talk about the game to, no diner for lunch to sit in and watch girls out the window. But there was Sappho, a ball to throw with and a world to explore, some ears that always listened and a look that always said “What the hell are you talking about? Can I have something to eat?” So you walk and play and ruff the neck and hand out a treat and then get back to work, falling into the comfortable patterns that mark the day as sure as coffee.

I was a mess after she died. Telling my daughter, only seven then, who had never known a world without her, was gut wrenching, but it got worse; I never realized how important it was having another physical presence around, how the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing and the rattle of her rabies tag on the collar creates a little soundtrack that says you’re not by yourself.

I lasted about a week, found an ad, and then we piled in the car and drove into Quebec and came back with Sam, the goofy Golden Retriever puppy. Soon we created our own pattern, the daily walk and ball toss that for the last eight years kept me from living entirely in my head, and something I’ve written about several times before.

He died in the back of my truck yesterday on the way to the vet. I somehow knew he was going the previous day, made sure the girls said goodbye when they left for school, called the vet anyway, put his bed in the back of my truck and lifted him in. I was almost there when I looked in the rear view mirror, saw his head slump down and disappear and knew.

We already have a second dog, Scamper, a Shetland Sheepdog, so there are still sounds and patterns around and walks to take.

But there is still that certain silence.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just Sayin'

A review from one of the heavyweights:

“Stout, who edits the annual volume of “Best American Sports Writing,” takes as his subject not Fenway today. . . but Fenway as it came into existence in the winter of 1911-12 and as the scene of five games of the 1912 World’s Series (as it was then called), one of the most thrilling in the long history of what sportswriters call the Fall Classic. It’s a fascinating story, and Stout tells it very well.” - Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

Yardley - a past winner of the Pulitzer Prize in criticism - makes you earn it, and doesn't often give such an unbridled thumbs up. I'll take it.

In fact, I love the fact that Yardley writes "It's a fascinting story and Stout tells it very well." For as I told Alex Belth in a recent interview [http://http//]: "In prose, I aim for transparency. In many instances I almost want my actual writing to be completely invisible, so submissive to the story that you don’t notice it. I want the readers’ first reaction to be “great story” and then realize that it was the writing that delivered that experience."

That's exactly what Yardley recognized. It doesn't mean that I don't try to write without style, but there are times you just have to stay out of the way and let the story speak. I like to think there is some artistry in that.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Rain on the Parade

As the author of comprehensive histories on BOTH the Red Sox and the Cubs, I think I have some perspective here. Chicago fans, pay heed, because in Theo Epstein you have no idea what you are getting. Consider this:

“For the past 19 years or so I’ve had suspicions, some stronger than others, but to sit here today and say I played on even one team that was totally clean would be denying reality… I played pretty much my entire career in the Steroid Era.” Curt Schilling, May 8, 2009

Those words were pretty damning. Although Schilling went on to stridently proclaim his personal innocence, denying he ever used any PED in any form, and called the notion that Boston’s two most recent world championships were tainted “a load of crap,” his admission provides evidence to those who feel otherwise.

Personally I find virtually every championship from about 1989 over the next two decades, if not tainted, then certainly tarnished. And even Schilling, although he is loathe to admit it outright, has since agreed, telling The Sporting News on July 7, 2011 that “There isn’t a team in the last 20 years that has won clean.” And not winning clean means winning dirty. No matter how one personally feels about the subject, given statements such as these it is impossible not to recognize that the Steroid Era did leave a taint, one that may not diminish the accomplishment of any one team but certainly does leave a mark upon certain individuals.

Make that every individual. No one in the era, either in the clubhouse or the front office, comes away untarnished, and that includes every manager and – are you listening Chicago? – every general manager whose team benefited from the performance of players on PEDs. Even the virgins in the whorehouse, the “see no evils” who looked the other way, benefited – quite a few of those home runs won some pretty big ballgames. But virtually everyone involved he kept his suspicions to himself while accepting the glory – and the championship rings, and the adulation, and, significantly, the checks – that might not have been acquired totally on the square. While Schilling, like most players, states in effect that so many guys were using it all evens up and even though he had suspicions he never actually saw anyone take anything, and gosh darn it, you just can’t accuse someone because of some darn suspicion.

True enough. But he and everyone else might as well be wearing one of those “Stop Snitching” t-shirts that were all the rage in gangland a few years ago. Because personal consequences be damned, a person of conviction might have stood up and taken a stand, either publicly or privately and proclaimed long and loudly that the game was dirty and something should be done. Such a whistle blower, either on the field or in the front office, may have become a pariah among his peers, but he could have looked himself in the mirror without doing a moral back flip. But they all stayed silent, took the money, looked the other way and became adept at the same kind of self delusion that allows corruption to flourish in any institution.

At its core, that’s what the Steroid Era represents – corruption. Everyone agreed to go along to get along because the turnstiles were spinning and the contracts were getting bigger and more lucrative every year and fans were so swept up in the spectacle that no price was too high to pay for the privilege of watching. And everyone who knew better and stayed silent are no better than the residents of any community that look the other way as criminal syndicates or gangs act with impunity. Only no one was going to kill a ballplayer for speaking out – they just wouldn’t get asked to dinner, and would have to live off their substantial savings. The corruption of the Steroid Era floated all financial boats. Only a sucker would have turned down that, right?
In that sense uber GM like Billy Beane and even Hall of Fame managers like Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre are also tarnished. After all, who is Billy Beane minus Giambi and Tejada, or Joe Torre without Pettitte and Clemens, or Tony LaRussa without Canseco and McGwire?

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona without Manny and Ortiz, that’s who. They are simply two more names whose personal success is so inexorably bound up with the Steroid Era that, like Schilling and Manny and Ortiz, it is impossible to measure their accomplishments with any certainty. Just ask yourself, would any of these men have won a ring in an era without steroids? That is what, in the end, taints everything and everyone. We will never, ever, ever know.
And neither will they. As much as the Red Sox recent collapse, I think that explains why both Francona and Epstein “chose” to leave the Red Sox at the same time. Each benefitted mightily from the era, both financially and in terms of their personal legacies. And each reaped the harvest of credit for two “world championships.” Unfortunately, the veracity of those two world championships will never, ever be known.

Deep in their hearts, each man knows that themselves, even if the sycophants that surround both figures won’t dare utter those words. Terry Francona may believe he is one of the more capable managers of his time, but he doesn’t really know because his record as Boston manager provides far too murky a gauge, while his record at Philadelphia is pedestrian. And Theo Epstein has no idea if he is any good either. Truth to be told, neither do the Cubs, who are buying a resume they already must know to be false. Neither Francona nor Epstein can look at the record of either the 2004 or 2007 Red Sox without certain uncomfortable questions creeping in. Both succeeded during an era when spectacular performances were often delivered by a syringe.

That is why both men, if either is to create a true legacy that stands up to the scrutiny not just of others, but of themselves, needed to leave Boston and take on a challenge elsewhere. Only this time each will have to do it on the square. And this time, win or lose, at least each will be able to look at the image staring back in the mirror without blinking and glancing away, ashamed.

For Theo Epstein, the greatest challenge is not whether he delivers a world championship to Chicago, but whether this time he can look in the mirror and know his success is deserved and authentic, and that his resume is not inflated by the contents of a syringe.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh, Yeah! A Great Review (and small clarification)

In a terrific review in the Boston Globe and on, the esteemed Chad Finn says some terrific things about Fenway 1912, all of which I appreciate. There is, however, one point he makes about the book that is not entirely correct - and perhaps I don't make the point clear enough in the text. So I thought it best to clarify in the event a reader might take issue.

He accurately notes that I make the point that Fenway's distinctive shape does not stem from the configuration of the surrounding streets. He then notes that the reason is because the dimensions of the Huntington Avenue Grounds were retained when Fenway was built.

The larger point is true, but not for the reasons cited. Fenway's distinctive shaped stems from the shape of the plot of land, - the park was built inward to use all the space and easily could have been symmetrical, or nearly so, had that been important. It was not, however, because the game, as it was played when Fenway was built, did not reach the borders of the property. Over time, the game grew out and the city grew in to surround the park, meaning that the shape of the field area (the basic footprint for which was accidentally created when new seats were built for the 1912 World Series) evolved over time.

Fenway was NOT built with the same dimensions as the Huntington Avenue Grounds. However, it WAS built to retain the same orientation in regard to the sun, which made Lansdowne St. the border in left field. Although no one at the time thought this confined left field in any meaningful way, the accidental result, over time, became Fenway's most distinctive feature - the Green Monster.

Thanks to Chad for a terrific and considerate review. Come see me tomorrow at 1:00 at the Back Bay Events center for the Boston Book Festival. See the review at the link below:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On FENWAY 1912: A Conversation

How does your book differ from all the other Fenway books coming out to celebrate the ballparks’ anniversary?

Fenway 1912 breaks so much new ground it makes every other account of the building and construction of Fenway Park obsolete. In the context of the times I tell you precisely why Fenway looks the way it does, what architectural styles and influences played a part in its design, exactly how it was built, how it evolved during its first season and how Fenway Park contributed to the Red Sox 1912 world championship. Virtually none of this has appeared in any other book before. Unlike most others books about Fenway Park, which essentially tell a thumbnail history of the franchise through pictures of the ballpark, I tell the story of Fenway Park as an actual story, a drama that over the course of a little more than a year changed the history of the Red Sox and the City of Boston forever. Fenway Park is the main character, but there are many others – architect James E. McLaughlin, contractor Charles Logue, groundskeeper Jerome Kelley, and players like Tris Speaker, Smoky Joe Wood, Duffy Lewis, Royal Rooters like Nuf Ced McGreevey, team owner James McAleer and others. I think I’ve created a living history of Fenway Park.

Is your book illustrated?

Absolutely, there are plenty of photographs and illustrations in my book, most dating to its first season. All were carefully selected for their ability to reveal something new about Fenway Park. I am particularly excited about several period architectural drawings that I uncovered that will be a revelation to Red Sox fans. To the best of my knowledge, these have never been reprinted or even examined by anyone since 1912. I don’t think I am overstating things when I say that after reading Fenway 1912, fans will never be able to look at Fenway Park the same way again. I know I don’t – and I have attended hundreds of game at Fenway and have been writing about the history of this team for twenty-five years. And throughout the narrative I relate aspects of Fenway Park in 1912 to Fenway Park today, so fans can envision Fenway Park in 1912 within what exists today. Personally, I was stunned to discover in the course of my research that there was so much new information I was still able to uncover about a place that everyone thinks they already know everything about. It will be the one gift Sox fans will want this holiday season.

How were you able to discover so much new material?

Twenty-five years ago, on Fenway’s 75th anniversary, I wrote the official history of the park for the Red Sox yearbook. But when I began working on this book over three years ago I started from scratch, researching in period documents, newspaper accounts and other sources. I just don’t accept that something is true because it appeared in some book written decades later. And to do that takes time – literally years of research, months and months of searching through microfilm, old newspapers and magazines, census records, city directories, maps, and old books before I wrote a word. Let me put it to you this way – I think I did more research for Fenway 1912, telling the story of the creation and building of Fenway Park and the 1912 season, than I did for Red Sox Century, a book in which I told the entire history of the franchise.

So the entire book is about 1912, right? There’s nothing about Fenway Park since then?

Oh, not at all. When certain aspects of Fenway Park need further explanation – and when I uncovered exciting new information – I don’t hesitate to tell those stories. For example, when I discuss the left field wall, I track it through history. I uncover the day that the first fans sat where the “Green Monster” seats are today – it was in 1912! And I trace the history and first use of the phrase “Green Monster,” more precisely than anyone else ever has. That’s a great story, because the phrase was first used far earlier than most people realize, yet didn’t come into popular usage until, relatively speaking, quite recently. And here’s something else few people realize – Fenway Park wasn’t the first baseball field in Boston to be called “Fenway Park.” On occasion the Huntington Avenue Grounds, where the Red Sox played before Fenway Park was built, was itself called “the Fenway Park” due to its proximity to the Fens.

How do you manage to tell Fenway’s story while you also tell the story of the 1912 season and the 1912 World Series?

In a sense, that was the easy part of the book, because as I began to research the events of the 1912 season, I quickly realized that the personality of the ballpark was being revealed game by game, from things like the first home run hit over the left field wall (which most fans know was hit by Boston’s Hugh Bradley) to the first home run hit into the stands that was wrapped around the precursor to the “Pesky pole” in right field. Fenway Park had a dramatic impact on the fortunes of the Red Sox in 1912, and was a huge reason why a team that finished in fourth place in 1911 was able to run away with the pennant in 1912 – Tris Speaker emerged as a superstar and had an MVP season, Smoky Joe Wood, helped by some subtle changes no one else has ever recognized, went 34-5, a couple of rookie pitchers had the season of their lives. I point out precisely how Fenway Park provided the Red Sox with a huge advantage. Sort of by accident, they were perfect for the ballpark. Then, just before the World Series, while the Sox were on a road trip, Fenway Park underwent what I would still consider the most dramatic transformation in its history, as over a period of only a few weeks more than 10,000 seats were added, for the first time creating the familiar “footprint” that still remains, more or less, today. Then, during the 1912 World Series, a whole series of new quirks in Fenway’s personality were revealed.

Wait a minute, Fenway Park was changed during the 1912 season?

Absolutely. And before those changes were made it would have been almost unrecognizable to a contemporary fan. In a sense, the 1912 World Series both christened Fenway and capped things off. The Sox played the New York Giants of John McGraw and Christy Mathewson, and the fortunes of both teams swung back and forth wildly, often during the course of a single game. Series lasted eight games – one was tie – and the Series was marked by fights, arguments, threats of a player strike, charges of gambling, and an on-field riot by the fans. The full story of what took place during those eight games has never been told before because previous accounts failed to recognize the key role Fenway Park played in the Series. That element allowed me to being the Series to life, to put the reader in the stands and on the street, in the dugout and in the clubhouse.

What does Fenway Park mean to you?

It’s hard to put it in words, but in the foreword to the book I try. It’s very personal to me, and I think this is the best book I have ever written. When I was a kid I used to draw pictures of Fenway Park. I moved to Boston after college precisely because of Fenway Park and lived within walking distance of the park for all but the first few months I was in town. If it wasn’t for Fenway Park I may well have never become a working writer. Fenway Park is a place that can change your life – I know it changed mine. By writing Fenway 1912 I hope that in some small way I have repaid the debt I owe to the ballpark. Without Fenway Park, I am a different person, and I don’t think I’m the only one who can say that.

Glenn will be appearing at the Boston Book Festival at the Back Bay Events Center and signing books on October 15 @ 1:00 pm. See for more appearances.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I am pleased to announce the near simultaneous publication of my next three books:
The Best American Sports Writing 2011, guest edited by Jane Leavy, series editor Glenn Stout, FENWAY 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Seasons and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year by Glenn Stout, and book three in my juvenile series "Good Sports" entitled Soldier Athletes, a Junior Library Guild selection (for more see I am proud to say that beginning in 1991 I have now written, edited or ghostwritten more than eighty books with sales in excess of two million copies.

Personally, I am most excited by FENWAY 1912, the definitive story of the building of Fenway Park the 1912 season and the 1912 World Series.[PS to Sox fans: In this book, they win.]

Three years ago I set out to write the definitive account of the creation, design, and building of Fenway Park and to allow the reader to experience Fenway Park in its first year and the Red Sox championship season of 1912. I make use of sources utilized by no other purported history of either Fenway Park or the 1912 season or World Series. I promise that this book will prove to be a revelation for even the most hard core fan of either the Red Sox or Fenway Park and makes all previous histories of the park completely obsolete. Fenway 1912 includes:

-Period architectural drawings dating from 1912 that have NEVER been used elsewhere or been reproduced. To my knowledge these are the only period drawings known to exist.

-A detailed construction history of the ballpark that includes not only the schedule of the construction, but a full explication of the construction methods used and how that impacted the 1912 season and the park you see today.

- A biography of Fenway architect James E. McLaughlin and builder Charles Logue.

- A discussion of the architectural influences that are the reason Fenway Park looks the way it does today.

- Detailed discussions on how the new ballpark affected the Red Sox and the 1912 World Series, and a dramatic and lively reconstruction of both the season and the Series, including the infamous contest between Joe Wood and Walter Johnson on September 4, 1912, perhaps the greatest pitching matchup in baseball history.

- Why the Green Monster exists, why it was built the way that it was, and why and when the name "Green Monster" came into use.

- How changes made to the ballpark over the course of the 1912 season determined the future evolution of Fenway.

- Detailed analysis of the 1912 season, including Joe Wood's remarkable 34-5 pitching campaign, and how two changes - one to his windup, and one an injury to another player - resulted in one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history.

What the critics are saying:

“Best Baseball Book Ever. If you are a lifelong Red Sox fan, a lifelong Red Sox hater, a rabid baseballholic or merely a casual baseball fan, Glenn Stout's new book, Fenway 1912, is an amazing read into the birth of a ballpark, the 1912 Red Sox and the transition to the modern baseball era. His ability to weave together the tiniest detail and apparent minutiae into a rip-roaring page-turner that is hard to put down is simply amazing.

In the capable hands of Stout, Fenway 1912 promises to make all other books about Fenway’s construction and first season obsolete. While some sports histories are bone-dry and distant, Stout imbues his account with a unique vibrancy and a razor-sharp intelligence. I am amazed at the research that must have gone into this. Anyone involved in this project is discussed: groundskeeper, architect, coaches, owners, players. Even at 416 pages, this wasn’t boring and kept me reading even though I don’t follow baseball. This has got to be THE definitive work on this subject. I can’t imagine even a dissertation that could be more complete.

Fenway 1912 is a book that everyone who covers this team has to buy, and read, and keep handy, so that when people ask us where the bones are buried, we can look wise and have the answer at our fingertips. The author’s meticulous approach makes the book a valuable addition to baseball history. Stout does an excellent job of portraying the differences in the game between that era—when “the owners were the kings and the players lowly serfs”—and today. Throughout, Fenway Park, “a ballpark for the heart and soul,” shines as a beacon for America’s game.

Baseball diehards and historians, and of course Red Sox fans, will find much of interest in this paean to one of sport’s most famous venues. Stout’s knowledge of the sport and passion for the game certainly comes across in his writing, especially when he is uncovering little known details of this bygone era of baseball. The book is full of fun and informative anecdotes about Fenway’s past and present.

Stout has done the impossible: he has put an end to the seemingly bottomless genre that is Fenway Park books. We now need no more. We get not pomp and circumstance, but the bones and blueprint of a legendary ballpark, topped with a star-filled World Series that still endures. He doesn’t pretend history is straw hats and cigars, but gives you real people, real baseball and (the best part) real Boston, the way any real writer should. This is a book for all of us, a wonderful sports book.”

[Review mash-up courtesy Amazon, Kirkus, Booklist [starred review], Publisher's Weekly, Larry Tye, Mike Rutstein, Howard Bryant, Netgalley]

For more about Fenway 1912 or The Best American Sports Writing 2011, see All three books are now available for order through any online source in or in e-book editions and are shipping to bookstores now.