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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

August 05, 2003|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

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What: "Something to Write Home About."

Author: Seth Swirsky.

Publisher: Crown.

Price: $25.95 retail.

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The photo on Page 2 of this hardcover book is an eye-catcher. It shows an older Babe Ruth presenting a book to a young Yale University baseball player.

The player is future President George H.W. Bush, whose handwritten letter appears on the next page. The letter explains that the photo was taken in the spring of 1948.

"I was captain of Yales (sic) team so I got to go on the field to receive some papers from the Babe," the letter reads. "Riddled with throat cancer he could barely speak."

A few pages later is a typewritten letter from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, explaining an adjacent photo of Robert F. Kennedy and Mickey Mantle, taken in 1965. Then comes another photo of the Babe with his two daughters and wife Claire, shown playing a piano. The photo is accompanied by a recent letter from one of the daughters in the photo, Julia Ruth Stevens. Turn the page and there is a handwritten letter from Paul McCartney, explaining how he became a New York Yankee fan in 2000.

There are 76 letters in all and more than 170 rare photos in this book compiled by Los Angeles songwriter Seth Swirsky, the third of its kind. Swirsky, a Dartmouth College graduate, is a collector of baseball memorabilia, which can be seen at Seth.com.

During the baseball strike of 1994, Swirsky began writing letters to baseball players young and old, famous and not-so-famous. Those letters turned into his first two best-selling books, "Baseball Letters" (1996) and "Every Pitcher Tells a Story" (1999).

This third book is as compelling and uplifting as the first two. Shawn Green writes about the responsibilities he feels as a Jewish ballplayer; Paul Lo Duca contributes a moving tribute to his late mother, who never got to see her son play in the majors, and Ernie Banks writes about the day he said, "God, it's a beautiful day -- let's play two!"

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-- Larry Stewart

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