Somewhere, writers read Marc Bona’s extraordinary “Cleveland Hidden Sports History” and think, “Why didn’t I find this? “
With the Cleveland Indians deciding to change their name, there is intense speculation about the team’s name afterwards. “Spiders” is heavily favored because of its history, or perhaps despite its heritage: the 1899 Cleveland Spiders maintain the worst single-season record in Major League Baseball history.
Who knew the Cleveland Infants, who competed in the Eight-Team Players League? Bona is coming out with his story, including the fact that it was their center fielder who came up with the idea of getting the president (then William Howard Taft) to throw the first ball of the season.
After a chapter on former Akron football coach John Heisman and another on Chief Wahoo’s beloved but troublesome mascot, it’s back to the Spiders, followed by the Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association and of the nearly failed Indian purchase by George Steinbrenner.
Bona has unearthed so many stories that it would be a mistake to try and absorb them in one sitting. Readers may want to take a break before the chapter on how Bruce Springsteen saxophonist Clarence Clemons almost played for the Browns. The life of former Negro Leaguer Luscious Easter, who played for Indians for six years, has come to a sad end, and there are other stories of tragedy and triumph.
It would also be a mistake to characterize this book as anecdotes; these stories are important and must be known.
“Hidden History of Cleveland Sports” (160 pages, softcover) costs $ 21.99 from The History Press. Marc Bona is a writer for Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer and lives in Akron.
‘The Chronicles of Muffin Man’
The Akron Marathon has been a local institution since 2003, but from the man who founded it? Steve Marks, the Akron native whose Main Street Muffins has grown from a downtown storefront to a national supplier of baked goods, shares his business strategies in “The Muffin Man Chronicles: Recipes for Entrepreneurial Success.”
After graduating with an accounting degree from Akron University, Marks found a job with a downtown company. One day in 1985, his father invited him to a lunchtime sheriff’s auction at the courthouse, where a building on South Main Street was being sold for non-payment of taxes. Marks found himself bidding for money he didn’t have on a property he had never seen and ended up owning a five-story near-disaster.
Marks recruited his best friend Harvey Nelson, whom he had met in preschool, and they figured out what to do with the building. During a visit to a mall in Los Angeles, they saw a muffin store doing huge business. Marks quit his job to seek investors and grants while Nelson worked on renovating the building, and in the summer of 1987 they opened their retail store.
Marks exposes the difficulties encountered by the young company, without forgetting the early tensions with his partner. A restaurant owner asked to buy muffin batter, which led to wholesale distribution and a deal with local McDonald’s franchises. The “Muffins for Mammograms” program began in 1992. A few years later, the partners began the process that occupies much of the rest of the book: the sale of the business. Soon after, the new owners asked Marks and Nelson to resume their management roles; they eventually bought the business, only to sell it again. The complicated process of enterprise resource planning is described as “a colossal puzzle”.
In this little book, Marks shows his dedication to his product, his people, his ethics and his community. Main Street Muffin is now Main Street Gourmet.
“The Muffin Man Chronicles” (164 pages, softcover) costs $ 15.99 from Parafine Press.
Cuyahoga County Public Library: Authors Gervais Hagerty (“In Polite Company”), Victoria Benton Frank (“Teddy Spaghetti”), poet Marjory Wentworth, Cassandra King Conroy (“Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy”), Mary Alice Monroe (“L ‘story of Lost and Found “), Adriana Trigani (” The Shoemaker’s Wife “) and Patti Callahan Henry (” Between the Tides “), all contributors to” Reunion Beach: A Tribute to Dorothea Benton Frank “, speak in a Zoom event 5 pm to 6 pm Monday 7 pm to 8 pm Thursday, two-time winner of the O. Henry Award Ron Rash is reading an excerpt from his collection of stories “In the Valley.” Register at cuyahogalibrary.org.
Literary Cleveland: The annual Inkubator, with free workshops, panel discussions and readings from notable authors, continues today with a 1 hour workshop “Witness: Recovering Our Stories to Connect” and will run through July 25 . Check out the program and register at litcleveland.org.
Medina County District Library: Children’s author and illustrator Peter Brown (his “Creepy Carrots!” Won a 2013 Caldecott Silver Medal and “The Curious Garden” won a 2010 EB White Read Aloud Award) takes a Zoom tour from 10:30 am to 11:30 am Tuesday . Register at medina.lib.oh.us.
Learned owl bookstore (204 N. Main St., Hudson): AD Adams signs his fantasy novel “Mark of the Dragon”, Saturdays from 1 pm to 3 pm.
Visible voice books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): New Orleans-based poet Tarriona “Tank” Ball, whose group Tank and the Bangas was nominated for Best New Artist for the 2020 Grammy Awards, reads an excerpt from her first collection of poetry “Vulnerable AF,” 1pm to 2pm on Saturdays.
Akron-Summit County Public Library: Akron author Bobby Jackson presents “How to Publish, Promote and Sell Your Book” at a Zoom event from 2 pm to 3 pm Saturday. Register at akronlibrary.org.