Mike Piazza grew up around Philly. Come again, you say. That’s right, Mike Piazza and over 350 other baseball players, active and retired, sprung from somewhere near the cradle of liberty.
The Temple University Press is publishing Rich Westcott’s “Native Sons,” a book detailing the plethora of players from the region.
Westcott, a Roxborough native, said it’s amazing how many players came from the area. He added how it’s even more amazing that Philadelphia’s rich baseball history is so obscure. For example, Sean Casey, a lifetime .300 hitter, plays first base for the Cincinnati Reds and hails from Willingboro, NJ.
“People don’t realize some of the players who are from the Philadelphia area,” Westcott said. “It’s such a rich baseball area. That in itself makes the book interesting.”
The idea for “Native Sons” danced around in Westcott’s head for a while. He felt the staggering number of players who came from the area warranted a book.
Jimmie Wilson, who grew up in Kensington, was a catcher for the Phillies and also managed the team. Wilson was a catcher for the National League in the first ever All-Star game at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1933.
Reggie Jackson, born in Wyncote, Montgomery County went on to become one of the best baseball players in history. Jackson hit 563 home runs during his career, putting him at number eight on the all-time list. Jackson is named “Mr. October” for his dazzling performances during post-season matches. He once slammed four consecutive home runs in the playoffs.
The Temple Press mainly publishes academic books, but also focuses on books that have a regional interest. An author pitches an idea to the Temple Press, and after it receives approval from one of the acquisition’s editors, it is sent to the editorial board for further evaluation.
Gary Kramer, Publicity Manager for the Temple Press, said, “We don’t just publish anything, we have a rigorous editorial process.”
The intellectual peers of the authors review all books. “If it is an anthropology book, then two or more anthropologists will review it and say it is notable, or this is notable if it is corrected or fixed in these ways,” Kramer said.
The Temple Press publishes around 50 to 60 books a year.
Kramer said anyone who reads “Native Sons” would gain an appreciation for Philadelphia’s rich baseball history. “If you’re from the area you’ll appreciate it because it has a lot of regional interest.”
“Native Sons” is Westcott’s fifteenth book. Fourteen of those books are strictly about baseball. “A Century of Philadelphia Sports” details the entire sporting history of Philadelphia.
Westcott’s book writing career began in 1983 when he wrote “The Phillies Encyclopedia,” a complete history of Philadelphia. Westcott published and edited “The Phillies Report” for 14 years until 1997. Currently, Westcott is one of four official scorers for the Phillies and is also helping produce the historical material for the Phillies’ new ballpark.
The book will hit the shelves on Dec. 1. The Temple Press is having a holiday sale at the Diamond Club from Dec. 1 to Dec. 5. All books will be 50 percent off.
Matt Stringer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.