"Bill Sherdel is the type of player often overlooked by baseball fans. He was a good pitcher with a 15-year career, but he was not a Hall of Fame (Cooperstown) caliber player. Sherdel, a southpaw from Adams County in southcentral Pennsylvania, spent most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals (from 1918 to 1930) and compiled a 165-146 career record.
"The highlights of Sherdel's career were World Series appearances in 1926 and 1928 against the New York Yankees. Prior to the 1928 World Series, Sherdel described why he had been so successful. He said, 'I depend on my slow ball, control, knowledge of the batters and nerve to win games.'
"The hard-luck hurler, however, was 0-4 in the World Series. The Cardinals won in 1926 and lost in 1928.
"Sherdel's 153 wins for the Cardinals is the most by a southpaw. Consider that it's been 90 years since he last pitched for St. Louis and you get a sense of the accomplishment. He started out in the bullpen and gradually moved into a starter's role. His split duties no doubt affected his number of career wins. That split is evidenced by the fact that 273 of his 514 mound appearances (53 percent) were starts.
"Author John Coulson, from nearby Hanover, Pa., faced a few challenges in chronicling Sherdel's career: The 'hometown hero' was a man of few words; he wasn't flamboyant or colorful; he wasn't involved in any major controversies (his quick pitch on Babe Ruth in the 1928 World Series was somewhat controversial). On the plus side, however, he had the support of the Sherdel family and he thoroughly researched his topic.
"Sherdel's pitching talents declined rapidly from 1929 to 1932. In retirement, he faced some financial difficulties and had to have a leg amputated. He died on Nov. 14, 1968 at age 72.
"By the way, 'Wee Willie,' Sherdel's nickname was actually a misnomer. He stood 5-10 and weighed 160 pounds.
"Coulson does an admirable job of capturing baseball in the 1920s and the Cardinals' major players and managers. Along the way, he includes some informational nuggets about players such as Austin McHenry, Flint Rhem and Bob Farrell." - Barry S.
"Finished it yesterday. Thank you for introducing me to someone I had never heard of. It was a terrific read." - Joshua N.
"Just finished your latest book. I enjoyed it very much and found it quite informative. As a baseball fan I knew many of the lesser names mentioned but never heard of Wee Willie or his exploits. Particularly enjoyed the way you started each chapter about the events of that year." - Greg S.
"A fascinating new book has been written about Wee Willie Sherdel -- Bill Sherdel, the Cardinals' left-hander -- and it is written by John Coulson and it's just a wonderful, wonderful book." - John Hancock, KMOX radio host.
"Great book for Cardinals fans and residents of the greater Hanover Pennsylvania area." - Ben S.
"The Sherdel biography offers insight into a great pitcher as he successfully moved from the Deadball Era into the high offense era of the 1920s...Sherdel was a humble family man who loved baseball. He also was a fierce competitor. In the end, Wee Willie was a sportsman whose story is inspiring." - Dave Jensen, The Inside Game, Vol. XIX, No. 1, p. 20.
"Congratulations on your honorable mention. In the literary world that is quite an accomplishment. You should be very proud. The book is a masterpiece, I am sure there will be more accolades coming your way. Your book is 100% perfect in every way. I really enjoyed it." -Jimmy K.
"I'm enjoying the book about Wee Willie Sherdel. I really liked John Coulson's earlier book about minor league baseball..." -George L.
"What a terrific book incorporating so much baseball historical research while telling the compelling straightforward tale of Wee Willie Sherdel. This player was a heroic dedicated player who might have become forgotten today without the skillfully woven recounting of his life by John Coulson. In particular, the style of this author fit beautifully with the numerous newspaper accounts woven in with facts. It was like having a play by play voice in the past when the story warranted it and then a wider scope of the big picture of the sport and those who dedicated their lives to it. Included were details of player statistics, player injuries, team member trades, ball park information and key personalities revealed by their words and deeds. Oh yes, and archival pictures throughout making it even more real. Well told - bravo!" -Judith T.
"I really enjoyed it. And our members were taken aback by the fact that Bill is the winningest left-hander in Cardinals history and 4th in total wins.
"You and your co-author did a great job describing Bill Sherdel's life. He had more than his share of triumphs and tragedies. I especially liked the story of the alleged quick pitch to Babe Ruth. And I thought you captured a very poignant moment when Sherdel's baseball career came to its natural end, and it was clear that he was not prepared to move onto some other vocation.
"From a Cardinal fan perspective, the book really filled in a gap in the decade right before the first World Series title in 1926. You gave an excellent account of the rise of Branch Rickey and Rogers Hornsby while telling the story of an important pitcher who rose to the top right along with them." -Rick Z., president of the Bob Broeg chapter of SABR located in St. Louis
"Fascinating book. Like the pictures and the way you've laid it out. Great writing!" -Charlie H.
"John Coulson wrote a biography this year about Wee Willie Sherdel. If you are a Cardinals fan or just a fan of baseball history, I think you'll appreciate this effort! John did a great job, if you have not heard of it, I highly recommend it!" -Tony L.
"Great book which not only talks about Willie Sherdel but baseball and minor league baseball. A quick and enjoyable read." -Amy H.
"All baseball fans can appreciate a story about a young man from small town America who goes on to become the winningest left-handed pitcher in St. Louis Cardinals history. Author John Coulson meticulously chronicles such a saga in his 388-page masterpiece Wee Willie Sherdel. Insightful historical references along with in-depth baseball research are highlighted in this superb literary endeavor. Coulson’s talent for clear concise prose along with his phenomenal knowledge of the subject matter comes forth on every page. Detailed information on Sherdel’s teammates, managers and club executives provide the reader with a unique perspective of the mechanisms of baseball during the early decades of the 20th century. Sherdel family history and stories that occurred off the diamond add even more insight into the life of this early baseball star. Thanks to the brilliant work of author John Coulson new generations of baseball enthusiasts are able to read about Wee Willie Sherdel, a good family man who was successful in both baseball and life. I highly recommend this book; it is informative, interesting and extremely well-written." -Jimmy Keenan, author of The Lystons: A Story of One Baltimore Family and Our National Pastime. The Life, Times and Tragic Death of Pitcher Win Mercer and The Lyston Brothers: A Journey Through 19th Century Baseball
"An affectionate recap of Sherdel's life and baseball career that doesn't lack in breadth... every chapter is packed with generous helpings of photos, quotes, and clippings from newspapers of Sherdel's era... the book is a meticulously researched labor of love." - Foreword Clarion Reviews
"Coulson combines journalistic thoroughness with an infectious enthusiasm for the subject. He captures not only Sherdel's athletic success, but also the history of the sport's development and the nation's embrace of it... well-crafted... it should be a treat for bookish, die-hard Cardinals fans." - Kirkus Reviews
"It was a very good read." - Philip R.
"It was obviously a labor of love, but wow, I cannot imagine the work load! Well done, sir! As a Cardinals fan and baseball book junkie, I enjoyed your work!" - Tony L.
"This is a great book. My dad grew up in Midway and the first house I lived in was there. Grandparents too. I never knew this story. Thank you." - Amy E.
"It is a great read. A great piece of history, sports and very entertaining." - Dwight H.
"A well-researched book with a candid glimpse into the life and times of an often overlooked star in an exciting hard-nosed era of our national pastime." - Richard S.