Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Texas photo books on football, baseball, music

The University of Texas Press has released three new oversized photography books this fall paying tribute to Texas high school football stadiums, the best little semipro baseball team in Texas, and the popular TV music series, Austin City Limits.

The books are:

Homefield: Texas High School Football Stadiums from Alice to Zephyr by Jeff Wilson (foreword by Buzz Bissinger, text compiled by Bobby Hawthorne), $39.95.

The Amazing Tale of Mr. Herbert and His Famous Alpine Cowboys Baseball Club by DJ Stout, $34.95.

Austin City Limits: 35 Years in Photographs by Scott Newton, $40.

FOOTBALL: Jeff Wilson presents more than 80 photographs of empty high school football fields, all taken from the 50 yard line facing the home side of the stadium. The fields range in size from tiny Veribest (pictured on the cover) and Penelope to huge stadiums like Alamo Stadium in San Antonio and Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

“The promise of an empty football field,” Wilson writes, “is an irresistible force for those who understand and revere the game. It represents a blank canvas begging to be painted with the varied sights and sounds of youthful action and enthusiasm.”

Accompanying some of the photographs are brief comments by residents who coached, played, announced, or cheered for their team on Friday nights. The book grew out of a photo essay published in Texas Monthly in 2005.

BASEBALL: After World War II, minor league and semi-pro baseball reached new heights of popularity. And nowhere was a team more popular than the Alpine Cowboys.

Wealthy rancher Herbert Kokernot Jr. took ownership of the struggling Alpine team in 1946, changed the name to the Alpine Cowboys, built a dream ballpark called Kokernot Field, and outfitted his players in the most fashionable uniforms. The team won regional tournaments as well as the hearts of their fans and praise from around the country.

DJ Stout of Austin, whose father pitched for the Cowboys, has put together a coffee table book full of vintage black-and-white photos, comments by team members, and a year-by-year recounting of the 1946-1961 teams.

MUSIC: Fans of the Austin City Limits TV show will no doubt enjoy reliving the appearances of the great stars who have performed on stage in the show’s 35-year history.

Scott Newton, the show’s photographer for 31 years beginning in 1979, chronicles the appearances of 80 of the best-known performers and bands. Beginning and ending with Willie Nelson, the rest of the artists are presented in two-page spreads alphabetically rather than chronologically, since some have performed on Austin City Limits more than once.

To name just a few: Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Dixie Chicks, Norah Jones, B. B. King, Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.