But while the baseball world awakes from its long winter nap, Felton author Howard Burman’s newly published book, “Season of Ghosts: The ’86 Mets and the Red Sox,” thaws memories of a legendary baseball season from the not-too-distant past.
Published by North Carolina-based McFarland and Company, “Season of Ghosts” is Burman’s 10th published book, and his third that focuses on baseball.
He said that he was inspired to write the book one day when he was visiting ESPN.com and saw a poll that asked readers what they considered to be the greatest baseball season ever.
Listed along with the likes of the 1927 season that included the New York Yankees’ famous Murderer’s Row of hitters was the 1986 season, the year the New York Mets defeated the Boston Red Sox in the World Series thanks in part to Bill Buckner’s infamous error.
Burman explained that when he thought of the story of the 1986 season, he remembered some of the storylines and the unique characters who played that year — Keith Hernandez, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Wade Boggs.
“In baseball, we follow the people, we follow the characters,” Burman said. “The more I got into it, I thought how fascinating it was — just an amazing group of characters.”
About two years of work went into researching the book, he said, and his study took him from newspaper and magazine articles, to Internet archives, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“It’s really just a lot of good stories — a lot of personal stories and interesting things about these guys,” Burman said. “Each chapter focuses on one or two characters. There’s a lot of Keith Hernandez, there’s a lot of Wade Boggs — highly idiosyncratic characters.”
Burman said his goal was to tell the players’ stories in the way the stories of long-past generations are shared, but to use people who played in a more recent era. He wanted to explore players who are more familiar to modern fans.
“I think one of the great joys of baseball is that you’re always comparing the players of the past with those of the present,” he said.
The stories are told against the backdrop of the issues facing baseball during that season — drugs, racism, gambling and the strained relationship between players and team owners.
The greatest story of the season, however, is saved for the final chapters that tell the game-by-game story of the dramatic playoffs and the eventual World Series between the Red Sox and Mets.
“It was a great postseason,” Burman said. “Some people think it was the best one ever.”
Burman said his book, which was released two weeks ago, is available on Amazon.com and will soon be for sale at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
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