Life in the Slow Lane

June 13, 2008

New book perfect for baseball trivia buffs

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 2:13 pm

Everyone who knows the first thinga bout baseball knows Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech.

But what happened to the Yankee great after that day?

Many may think the disease that bears his name got the best of him almost immediately, but that’s not the case. Rather, he survived another year or two and worked in the New York state prison system as a counselor.

“he had a motto that he liked to give people a second chance,” said Gordon “Uncle John” Javna, who along with his staff at the Bathroom Readers Institute unearthed that nugget of knowledge for a baseball trivia book.

“Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Takes a Swing at Baseball” is more than 200 pages of oddball trivia designed in easy-to-read segments for those moments when, well, you’ll only read a couple minutes. the book is broke up into many categories, including baseball firsts, team name origins and other historical tidbits.

“You don’t read ‘War and Peace’ in the bathroom because you’re not there long enough,” said Javna, whose company has more than 7 million books in print and has produced the bathroom series for more than 20 years. “After a while, you get sick of last week’s supermarket circular or the back of the shampoo bottle.”

The information in the book ranges from the fascinating (george Brett is the only man to win a batting title in three consecutive decades) to the absurd (a May 1996 Giants-Mets game featured the pitching matchup with the two hurlers’ longest combined last names – VanLandingham and Isringhausen).

Javna’s crew spent between six months and a year researching this book, the institute’s first baseball tome – which he wanted to do because the self-professed trivia lover wanted to recreate the experience of memorizing baseball card backs as a child. Many people might think writing dozens of short segments is easier than penning one long story, but he said those people would be wrong.

“It’s easier to put together a one-page story than to put together a seven-page story,” he said.

Javna hopes his book will entertain like others in the bathroom series have; some readers claim to re-read a book just after they’ve finished it, he said.

“Baseball is full of these kinds of origins,” he said. “They’re fascinating.”

A review of “Takes a Swing at Baseball” is available by following the Sunday Lifestyle link at the right of the page.

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