Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Review - Veterans Stadium: Field Of Memories, by Rich Westcott

Veterans Stadium: Field Of Memories, by Rich Westcott

This book recounts the history of Veterans Stadium, the Philadelphia multi-purpose concrete sports venue that stood from 1971 to 2004. There's background on how the stadium came to exist in the first place, stories about the opening and transition to the new park, recounting of various great moments in Phillies and Eagles history that took place in the new park, lists of great football/baseball players and their best moments in the Vet, stories of various promotions and other crazy events in the park, about the birth of the Philly Phanatic, stories about the South Philly residents, and eventually, of course, stories about moving the teams out and blowing the place up.

Just like any other Rich Westcott book, it reads a lot more like an extended newspaper article rather than like a great novel, but to be honest, for once, I didn't mind all that much. I grew up in Veterans Stadium, pretty much, so there were times where I almost had tears in my eyes remembering some players/moments/games/etc. I actually mostly skimmed through the Eagles chapters because they're not as interesting to me -- and to be fair, most of the time the Eagles were complaining about the stadium anyway. The book is a lot more Phillies-heavy than Eagles-heavy in general.

Basically, if you live or lived in Philadelphia and spent way too much of your life in Veterans Stadium, this is a good book to read through, and you'll remember many fond memories. Also, if you're like me and it opened before you were born, it'll be pretty neat to hear about some of the stories from the early years of the park that your parents never told you (like in my case, I don't remember ever hearing about Karl Wallenda walking a tightrope across the field between the foul poles without a net). It even makes a pretty decent bus book -- the writing's pretty pleasant, not too dense, at times humorous, and it splits well into chapters to read one or two per ride.

Plus, the book won me over when it said "Traded to the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians for five players, Von Hayes never quite won the hearts of Phillies fans. He should have."

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