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Does a day off help a ballplayer?

While researching and writing my new book about baseball’s Ironman record, THE STREAK: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Baseball’s Most Historic Record, I found that several fundamental questions inevitably barged their way into the narrative. Of those questions, none is more central to the Ironman concept than the enduring issue of whether a day off helps a major league player.

Does it?

Should all players take a rest now and then because a respite from the game’s daily grand freshens their bodies and minds and enables them to perform better going forward? Or are the advantages of rest just a myth?

Ripken, who played in 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles, obviously has a clear-cut opinion. When we discussed the subject during our interview for the book, he said, “I never thought I could solve any problems by not playing.”

I think it’s safe to say that most of today’s players disagree. Ironman streaks have all but disappeared from baseball, and one of the many reasons for that is players, managers, and front offices now believe occasional rest is essential. Many other players I interviewed for the book, including Prince Fielder, Dale Murphy, and Tim McCarver – three players from three different eras – agree that is the case.

But the body of opinion I uncovered on the subject is far from unanimous. Frank Robinson, a Hall of Fame player, told me he never benefitted from taking a day off. Brooks Robinson, another Hall of Famer, said there were times when he came back better from a rest but also times when he came back playing even worse.

What do you think? Is the Ironman credo out of touch with reality? Does every player benefit an occasional day off?



Four Thumbs Up for THE STREAK

The release date for my new baseball book, THE STREAK, aboout Cal Ripken, Lou Gehrig, and baseball's Ironman record, is about seven weeks away now -- July 4, to be exact.

The period before publication always includes a round of reviews from the book industry media – heavyweight outlets such as Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Booklist. An author isn’t being honest if he or she tells you they don’t hold their breath, at least a little bit, before those reviews start rolling in.

I’m pleased to report that THE STREAK has performed well under scrutiny, bringing home an extremely positive report card – four thumbs up from the sources listed above.

You can read the full pre-pub reviews via the links listed below, but here are the highlights:

-- Booklist gives it a “starred” review, signifying a book that warrants special attention.

-- From Kirkus Reviews: “Eisenberg examines one of baseball’s most venerated records while exploring what it all means, providing a compelling, thought-provoking history for fans of America’s grand game.”

-- From Publisher’s Weekly: “Eisenberg’s impressively researched effort is a terrific tribute.”

-- From Library Journal: “A readable and comprehensive look at one of baseball’s most arcane but incredible accomplishments.”

I’m in the process of setting up a batch of signings and appearances to promote the book. There’s some exciting stuff in the works, soon to be announced. You can pre-order the book right here. In the meantime, here are the review links (just click on the name of the outlet). Thanks for the interest!


Publisher's Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal



New Baseball Book Coming Soon

I can’t think of a better time than Opening Day to announce that I’ll have a new book on the shelves later this year. It’s been more than four years in the making, and the subject is baseball. The book’s title is “The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken and Baseball’s Most Historic Record.” It’s an in-depth examination of the Iron Man record, which Gehrig and Ripken made famous.

The stories of those two legendary ballplayers dominate the pages, but the central character in the book is the consecutive-game record itself. Few sports achievements have generated more acclaim. Anyone who remembers the events of September 6, 1995, when Ripken broke Gehrig's record in Baltimore, can attest to that. My book opens with a fresh rendering of that night, including perspectives from new sources. Yet for decades, quiet doubts have persisted about the importance of playing in so many games in a row. Why would anyone want to do that? Babe Ruth certainly asked that question.

My idea was to hold the record up to the light, explore its history and underlying philosophy, and ask questions. Where did the idea of playing every day for so long come from? Who thought it was a good idea? Is it, in fact, a good idea? How did Gehrig and Ripken do it? Was one streak somehow more genuine than the other? Aside from their exploits, how has the record evolved? How do today’s players feel about feats of endurance? (Spoiler alert: They don’t care.) Ripken, whom I interviewed, has plenty to say on those subjects and many more.

Ripken was interested in the project, and I also interviewed dozens of others, incouding retired baseball stars Steve Garvey and Billy Williams, who experienced their own moments of Iron Man glory and helped explain what could motivate a man to go for years without taking a day off.

The pub date for the book is July 4, 2017, about as all-American as you can get. I'm biased, but I think baseball fans will enjoy it.

It can be pre-ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/Streak-Gehrig-Ripken-Baseballs-Historic/dp/0544107675/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


Nice Recognition on a List of All-Time Best Pro Football Books

Pro Football Journal has published its list of the 100 greatest books ever written about pro football. I was pleased to see two of my books among those selected.

Coming in at No. 24 on the Top 100 was COTTON BOWL DAYS, my 1997 memoir about growing up in the 1960s as a Dallas Cowboy fan.

"Written with charm and passion, COTTON BOWL DAYS takes readers through a time capsule that true fans can relate to. Although I don't root for the Cowboys, I found myself captivated reading the stories of Eisenberg's football journey,” wrote Chris Willis of NFL Films, who compiled the list for Pro Football Journal.

Last summer the Lone Star Literary Life website gave COTTON BOWL DAYS a No. 5 ranking on its list of all-time best Texas football books.

My second book on the Pro Football Journal's Top 100 was TEN-GALLON WAR, a study of the battle for Dallas’s football future that took place between the National Football League’s Cowboys and American Football League’s Texans from 1960 through 1962. Published in 2012, it was ranked No. 53 on the list.

“One of the best books on pro football to come out in the past couple of years,” Willis wrote, citing its “research and well-crafted prose.”

Here is a link to the Pro Football Journal blog, where the list was published:




"Cotton Bowl Days" Cracks List of Greatest Texas Football Books

To commemorate the approach of another football season, the "Lone Star Literary Life" website has published its rankings of the best all-time Texas football books. It's a spectacular top-ten list that includes seminal works such as "Friday Night Lights," "The Last Picture Show," and "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."

I was beyond honored to find "Cotton Bowl Days," my 1997 book about growing up as a Dallas Cowboys fan, ranked No. 5 on the list. It's a book I'm proud of, and even though it is nearly two decades old, I still hear regularly from football fans just reading it for the first time. Love seeing it get recognized this way!

Here's a link to the full list: http://www.lonestarliterary.com/texas-football-books-2015_080911.html

(The book can also be found as an eBook titled "Chronicles of a Dallas Cowboy Fan.")