By Jim Henneman
Both are narrative as well as pictorial. One covers the first 99 years of existence of Fenway Park, which the Red Sox unapologetically bill as "America's Most Lovable Ballpark," and because it is the oldest, who can argue? The other newcomer to the book shelf merely covers the first 16 years of Derek Jeter's already storied career -- as told by more than 5,000 stories and photographs that have appeared in the New York Times.
"Remembering Fenway Park" (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $45) is the 41st sports book written by Harvey Frommer (not to be confused with travel guru Arthur Frommer) and hardly misses a pitch from the park's beginning, six days after the Titanic went down, through the conclusion of the 2010 season. The Babe. The Kid. The Curse. The Monster. A Century of Stories. Frommer managed to touch all the bases.
The promo material somewhat brazenly refers to 2004, when the Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years, as the "greatest sports story ever told," but hey, if they had to wait that long, what's a little braggadocio? This book is more of a coffee-table collectible than a must-read, but it delivers as promised and figures to be a big hit leading up to Fenway's 100th anniversary, April 20, 2012.
As for the book on Jeter, well, it's pretty much like his career. You won't find any tabloid headlines because that's not the style of the New York Times (they don't call it the "old gray lady" for no reason).But not much is missed.
He has been called the "Face of the Franchise" and the "Brand of Baseball," among other things, but Jeter is best known as "The Captain" and the New York athlete who has been able to fly under the gossip radar better than any. But he's also coming off the toughest offseason of his career, with his abilities and range questioned equally.
He had contentious contract negotiations for the first time and his role as the team's leadoff hitter is now reported to be in jeopardy. But if there's going to be any Jeter dirt, it will have to wait for another day -- and another book.
"Derek Jeter -- From the Pages of the New York Times" (Abrams, $29.95) basically chronicles a Hall of Fame career from beginning to what many feel will be the final chapters -- a lot of information and no surprises.
More Front Row:
• Coaching Byword At Hopkins: Take A Seat And Stay Awhile
• 'Countdown' FightsKidney Diseases
• Umpires WantTo Honor Ernie Tyler
• Mud Chasers Slate April Run-Wallow
• Two New Books For Baseball Fans
• From The Cheap Seats
Issue 159: March 2011