On March 24, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records hosted a secret release party for If These Walls Could Talk a new book about the Oakland A’s by Susan Slusser and Ken Korach.
The event was a who’s who of figures from the sports team, many of whom are written about in the book, as well as local sports writers and broadcasters.
The book, which delves into 50 years worth of behind-the-scenes stories, is the second for both Slusser (100 Things A’s Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die) and Korach (Holy Toledo: Lessons From Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic) and their first together.
As is to be expected from a long time beat writer and a long time broadcaster, the stories told in this book are engaging and interesting. It is not simply a transcript of interviews with the men and women who have helped make history with the team but a deep look into what it takes to keep a baseball franchise afloat for 50+ years.
Korach, whose mother died by suicide when he was 21 years of age, relates his sour feelings towards Mother’s Day to the Mother’s Day perfect game thrown by Dallas Braden, who shared the milestone with his grandmother. It is an honest, raw, heartbreaking, and affirming chapter, exposing a vulnerable side of Korach that baseball seldom, if ever, invites. His story appears early in this book and will undoubtedly be a chapter that fans will revisit over the years.
The book is a mix of in-depth interviews with some of the most important people in Oakland’s history — Bob Melvin, Rickey Henderson, Clay Wood, David Forst, and Steve Vucinich among others — and insightful essays by the two authors as they explore aspects of the game that rarely receive this type of attention — So You Want To Be A Broadcaster and So You Want To Be A Sports Writer are particularly interesting chapters — all presented in an easy to read and reference format.
At the release party Korach commented about his uncertainty that some of the subject matter would be of any interest to fans, noting that his interest in grass growing may be slightly more elevated than the general public, but fans will no doubt enjoy every chapter of this book. There are answers to questions that are often asked by fans and answers to questions that few have ever even considered. It is a masterful collection of facts, anecdotes, trivia, and history packaged in a way that is educational without boredom, endearing without pandering, insightful without condescension, and entertaining without fluff.
If These Walls Could Talk is, obviously, centered around the Oakland Athletics but every story and insight is universal to the game and every fan base will find something to enjoy about this book. Every team has a grounds crew and an equipment manager, and a GM, for example, so the stories will resonate with admirers of the game.
Official book signings will take place throughout the baseball season, including at the Oakland Coliseum, but fans shouldn’t wait to pick up their copy as it is the perfect way to get back into the swing of baseball as the 2019 season begins.
Follow Slusser and Korach on Twitter for more information on upcoming book events.