I am not a Yankee fan in any sense of the word, but I will acknowledge their achievements throughout history and the contributions they have made to both the game and its storied history. The original Yankee Stadium was witness to many of the games greatest players and scores of historical moments. With its closing a few years back, baseball lost one of its historical palaces, but I have found a book that chronicles its entire history and gives the stadium the true respect that it was due.
There have been a few books in the past that have made me go wow, but this one beats them all. Author Michael Wagner starts from the stadium’s original construction and provides all sorts of details about building a stadium in the 20’s. It covers stories about building delays, internal political struggles, how many bricks that were used and monetary costs to build the palace. I am using that brick number to dazzle my friends when we start asking each other obscure baseball trivia. It obviously does cover the great moments that happened there during its original incarnation and gives the reader a good feel of what the stadium was like during that early era of baseball.
Next the book takes another in-depth look at the remodeling of the stadium in the mid 1970’s. The deconstruction and remodeling details are plentiful in this book and gives an inside look at what really went on behind the scenes during this remodeling phase. Many of these things you will find hard to believe when you hear the lengths they went to preserving its original heritage. This portion of the book also covers the great moments that happened at Yankee Stadium during this second phase of its life. This is the phase many of us are most familiar with so it was nice to relive some of those memories.
This book provides an enormous array of pictures. From the original building of the stadium to its remodeling. Many are from the authors private collection, and they are a unique insight to the process and how large of an undertaking it was to remodel this stadium.
Finally, one aspect I found interesting was the personal correspondence of the author attempting to get memories from those who played there. He had success to varying degrees, but it was a fun way to see what players thought about the old girl during her prime.
It doesn’t matter if you are a New York Yankee fan or not this is a book worth checking out. The original Yankee Stadium has given way to progress, but I personally think it should have remained and been revered in such ways that Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are today. Old Yankee Stadium had a large historical value and this book has done a wonderful job on preserving some of the details and memories for generations to come.
You can contact Author Michael Wagner directly via email for information on how to order this great book for all baseball fans.
Baseball stadiums are a funny business. In the last few years we have opened the remainder of the publicly funded monsters that are basically welfare projects for the mega rich owners. Convincing the fan base that it is a good idea to fund the building of these monsters through tax dollars, all in the name of civic pride. Everyone that has wanted a new stadium has gotten one in the last 25 years, we are even starting to see some of these stadiums become outdated and cries for replacements are starting. These stadiums are all one dimensional and other uses of these parks is very limited. It makes one look back and see how useful the last generation of stadiums truly were. Baseball, Football, Concerts, Monster Truck Rallies or almost anything you could imagine would happen there. In today’s game almost everyone has their individual dedicated to one type of event stadium. But what about that one glorious year when one stadium housed two Baseball teams and two Football teams. Rarely a day went by when something wasn’t going on. Today’s book looks at that one unique and busy year.
Shea Stadium was the lucky recipient of all this attention in 1975. The obvious home of the New York Mets, but also temporary home to the New York Yankees during the remodeling of Yankee Stadium. It also housed the New York Giants and the Jets while construction of the Meadowlands was wrapping up. It made for scheduling nightmares and helped create an atmosphere within Shea that was hard to beat.
Brett Topel’s new book takes a look at that busy season and gives a solid background on each of the teams that called Shea home. He shows the reader how each of the tenants agreements came to be with the city owned stadium and how the legalities of it all threw a few wrenches into the works.
Topel, through interviews with the men who were on the field in 1975 explain what the vibe was like that year. How the Yankees felt playing on enemy territory across town from their beloved stadium and having to call Shea home. It had to be a very interesting mind set for the players since the dimensions were so different between the two stadiums. It also shows how the transplant to Shea Stadium effected the Yankees fans and their attendance.
The book covers both the Baseball and Football teams that called Shea stadium home in 1975, but it is much more centered on the baseball side of the stadium activities. More than likely because in a given year with two teams calling Shea home you would have 162 baseball games that would be considered home games versus the 16 home games for Football on Sundays. It shows how utilitarian these multi purpose stadiums really were. They were treated like a jack of all trades, instead of todays specialized delicate little flowers that are sparingly used for only one activity. I find it amazing that these new sport palaces are starting to have a shorter life span than the older and more widely used multi purpose stadiums.
If you are a fan of New York sports you should check this one out. It shows a very unique situation in an interesting time period of sports league growth. A situation like this we will never see again and for good reason.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing
Some baseball seasons seem to have their own personality. It could be the antics happening on the field or the drama that unfolds behind the scenes that keep certain seasons alive in the minds of fans for decades. The 70’s was a decade that was never short on excitement. Pick any year in that decade and something monumental was happening that helped shape the future of the game. 1973 was no different. The most historical feat was the introduction of the Designated Hitter. So monumental was it, that 45 years later we are still fighting over whether it is a good thing or not. Today’s book takes a look at year that gave use everything from the DH to a long goodbye to Willie Mays.
In the past couple years a few authors have taken on the task of picking a season from the 70’s and dissecting it. Silverman has no shortage of material to work with in 1973, that is for sure. From the introduction to the DH, the closing of original Yankee Stadium, the Miracle Mets and the wife swapping of Fritz Peterson are just a few of the points that made 1973 a spectacular season.
The author has done a nice job at looking at some of the important subjects of 1973, as mentioned above the implementation of the Designated Hitter, the painful farewell of Willie Mays and the Miracle Mets, the closing of original Yankee Stadium for remodeling, the Oakland A’s and their repeat winning of the division and of course last but not least new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his wife swapping pitchers. Silverman covered them all with accuracy and great detail, he has presented a story that was interesting and engaging and a good read for the average fan on these subjects.
The problem I has with this book is that there was more going on in 1973 than just these few subjects mentioned above. Hank Aaron was hot on the trail of Babe Ruth at that point. You were right in the middle of Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine. Roberto Clemente was killed right before the season started in a plane crash. So there was no shortage of big stories that were a factor in 1973. The author has mentioned some of these events in passing throughout the book, but nothing of any substantial merit, so I think he missed the boat there.
I understand the reasoning of why you would not want to spend any great amount of time talking about teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians, who were perennial bottom feeders in that era, but I think you would still want to address the full state of baseball if you were writing about one single season. There were so many different things going on that it would have enable the reader to get a much broader picture of what was truly happening in the game of baseball during 1973.
By far this is not a bad book. It covers the subjects it chooses to, very well. Silverman is thorough and puts a fun spin on the events of 73. He has created a good product that is definitely worth reading, just readers should be aware that it covers a few subjects very heavily, while passing over some of the events of that year of particular importance.
Perhaps I am just spoiled by books like Dan Epstein’s Stars and Strikes that covered the 1976 season, and now I hold all season books to that standard. I don’t think any fan with an interest in 1973 will be disappointed, I just think the author missed his chance to paint a much broader picture of the magic that was 1973.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press
Baseball is a game full of firsts. First pitch, first game, first out, first inning……the list is endless. But for us baseball book geeks (a badge I wear with honor by the way), that list of firsts also includes our first baseball book. For some people it starts in childhood when you get that first juvenile baseball book under your belt. For others its in adulthood after you settle down and figure out who you are. Then for the rest of us, its starts when you are 12 years old and stumble upon a book that you may not have been the target audience.
There has never been a shortage of biographies out there about Reggie Jackson. This one from 1984 I hold in higher esteem than all the others, mostly because it was my first. My first baseball book was a shear accident. My Dad, who I owe most of my fan dedication and knowledge to, bought me this book. From his Thursday night supermarket trip in 1985 he plucked it from the bargain bin at Pathmark and brought it home for me. Thus sending me on a literary journey lasting over 30 years so far.
I always liked Reggie Jackson because he was somewhat of a local hero. He grew up in the town five minutes away from the one I grew up in. He went to the local high school and at that time was the one superstar who came from our own backyard. So right off the bat the appeal was there about the book of our local guy made good.
Now this book has been out for over thirty years, is probably tame by today’s standards and more biographies about Reggie have come out in the subsequent decades. But for me, after countless other books, this book is the one. For all of my time on earth, this book about Reggie, this tattered copy especially, will hold a special place in my heart forever. It is the book that made me realize how many cool baseball books were out there. I may not have been the target audience of this book, but it did open my eyes to what baseball was really like. This book led me to baseball classics, such as Dynasty and Bums by Peter Golenbock. To books about Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Musial, Maris, DiMaggio and hundreds of others. Taking me to places in my own head, which for some was the only way imaginable to get there, allowing me to learn about the people and places that made baseball great.
I realize a lot of people say Ball Four was the book that brought them into the baseball world, and that it is the epitome of the baseball book. For my money I will stick with my copy of Reggie. Everybody has that one special baseball book they love for whatever reason they so chose. For me its not that popular tell-all baseball book by Jim Bouton that everyone loves to some degree. It is yet another tired rendition of how great Reggie Jackson was or is, depending on how you look at it and there is no other book out there I am willing to give it up for.
So take some time and pull out that old copy of the book that started it all for you. Spend some time with that old worn out friend and re-live what made baseball books so appealing to you, because you will never forget your first.
Recently a Facebook friend of mine asked the question, which baseball players deserve to have a book written about them. It poses an interesting question as to what is the criteria we use to choose a subject of these books. As you would expect everyone had their own opinion as to what made a player worthy of their own book. Everyone from one hit wonders to Hall of Famers were mentioned. For me it made me wonder why we even need the books of some of those people, even those players that were popular does not automatically give credence to any of the books they write. Today’s book makes me question if we really needed this one.
I am really not in any way a New York Yankees fan. So I did not go into this book partaking in the drinking of the Yankees cool-aid. While I think Jorge Posada had a decent career I honestly thought if you had placed him on another team, perhaps the Royals or the Twins during the same era, this book probably never would have been published. So I really wasn’t expecting much from this book. Unfortunately I can say I wasn’t disappointed.
I appreciate the effort both authors put forth in this book, I don’t think anyone sets out to write an average book. But that is what the reader gets in this one. Its a story that is not very riveting in any way and drags on at certain points. It does make it hard to get through certain spots, but with some diligence you can get through it. The major appeal that this book has to the general public is that it is another Yankees book. That alone will help peak interest in the book, but for me it just isn’t enough to justify it. I have always felt that if a publisher sees some merit in publishing a book, maybe it is worth taking a look at. Most of those books have some redeeming qualities to them, but I am not finding very many here.
Yankees fans may be a better audience for this one, because non-Yankees fans will not be able to get through the slow portions of the book.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Harper Collins
It would be a whole lot easier to figure out what hasn’t been said about Derek Jeter over the last twenty plus years. Countless books have been written, articles printed and in New York the television coverage was never scarce. Everyone has opinions of Jeter for better or worse, but it really is almost impossible to deny what he brought to the table day after day. If you take away the fact that he played for the New York Yankees, he still would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. With all that has been written about Derek Jeter, Danny Peary has taken a unique approach at looking at both the player on the field and the man behind the legend.
Not wanting to take the ordinary approach to celebrating Derek Jeter, Peary has assembled a compilation of his life and career in quotes. Tidbits from everyone around him or having some sort of contact with Jeter, it produces a very unique story that is weaved sentence by sentence. It gives a better result than that of a standard biography of the player, in the fact that in the end, you know so much more about the player and understand what makes him tick. You can always learn a lot about a person by what those around him feel about him.
The author has pulled quotes from friends, family, other players, managers, scouts, writers, coaches, teachers, celebrities, fans and critics. It wasn’t like he was trying to pull a select few people who would give the best quotes and allow him to paint a happy picture. He pulled from every source available and created a tapestry that shows the complete picture of Derek Jeter. The book is broken up into different chapter that lend a natural progression to Jeter’s life and career and help the reader follow a continuous timeline.
This is by-far the most unique approach I have come across on a book about a player. I am not sure you would call it a biography, but I don’t think it necessarily fits well in other categories. The approach is very refreshing and honestly enjoyable, because it allows the reader to see different information about a player that we all know so much about. I am not sure this approach would work for many other players. The New York media has brought so much information forth about Jeter that it has helped create the marketing machine that is Derek Jeter in our society.
Danny Peary has done a great job with this. It was unique and a much welcomed change in the player biography arena for me. I really enjoyed it and think those who are not fans of the New York Yankees will even enjoy it. The quotes keep it moving at a quick pace and present information about both the man and player without getting bogged down in cumbersome details.
Check out this book, I don’t think fans will be disappointed
Too much of a good thing is not healthy. But how does one know when they get to that point. It could be with food and drink, gambling, or countless other vices, usually you know when you have had enough. With baseball books how are we to know when the market has been saturated with a particular subject? Is it when the subject runs its course of popularity and what defines the point that subject transcends its own timeline? There are certain personalities out there that no matter how much time passes between their relevance to the game and current times, the books keep on coming. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and a handful of others come to mind as players with too many books about them out there. But today’s book to me is another biography on an above average player and manager that gets a ton of coverage no matter how many decades have passed.
Billy Martin is a guy who got more mileage out of his personality than almost anyone in baseball. People loved him and hated him, all at the same time, but you couldn’t deny his passion and skills. On and off the field he was a lightning rod for trouble and everywhere he went, some sort of altercation interrupted his career at that time. He has been the subject of many, many books and this new one tries to give the reader something different.
Bill Pennington has thrown his hat in the Billy Martin Ring with his new volume. Pennington has done thorough research and given the reader a comprehensive story of the life of the volatile player and skipper. From his early days in California to his career at various stops in the majors, the author has given you a good look at what made Billy tick. There were some minor details about Martin’s story that knowledgeable fans may question but overall it is a nice piece of work that readers will enjoy.
The bigger question I have is why do we need another Billy Martin biography? What has happened in recent years that has changed any opinions of Billy. In the almost 25 years since Martin’s death, nothing new has surfaced that would warrant another book. There have been several books on the market that have done this dance. I know of at least ten other biographies that have chronicled Martin’s life and there is a lot of overlap between those books already. So I am not sure why we needed another one. I understand the appeal of the Yankees and Martin’s personality, so that is really the only reason I can conceive as to why this book, at this point in time.
As I said above, Bill Pennington did a really nice job with this book, save for the few minor details he doesn’t have quite right. If you haven’t inundated yourself with Billy Martin biographies in the past, then you will really enjoy this book. If you are like me and read all the other versions available, then you may have trouble finding some new information to keep your attention. I don’t want to discourage readers from checking out this book, I just want them to keep in mind it is a lot of the same stories that have been visited many times before.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
When you do the same job for several decades it can get stale. You get to the point that nothing new ever really happens and you just start phoning in your job. You do the bare minimum just to skate by until you wind up retiring. Now this is true for most of us, but if you are lucky enough to have a job that no two days are ever the same, it’s totally different. You can’t wait to get to work and enjoy all the ups and downs of your job. Now most of us obviously fall into the former description, but if you are the New York Yankees beat writer like Phil Pepe was for several decades, you have a ton of great stories filed away in the memory bank just waiting to be shared. Todays book does just that.
This would probably be a dream job to most Yankee fans. Following the team day in and day out, mingling among the legends and almost becoming an extension of the team itself. While I am sure it is not a walk in the park every single day, I can think of a few professions that this would highly rank above.
Phil Pepe takes the reader on a journey with this book through several decades of Yankee stories. It is personal, first hand interactions with the team and stories he has witnessed in his years covering the team. He takes us from Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio all the way up through Derek Jeter. In between those two icons the book is filled with stories about other Yankee legends that donned the pinstripes while he was their beat writer. If you look at it from a historical standpoint this was a great time to be covering the team, because the baseball history he has witnessed is amazing.
This is a typical Pepe book in the style in which it is written. I have always found his books to be engaging and able to pull the reader into the story and make them feel like they were there as well. Phil Pepe has a real knack for getting the reader into a story and holding onto them until the very end. Perhaps I am a little biased because the other books he has written have ranked up there among my favorites. I am not sure if this was Pepe’s swan song for his distinguished career, but if it was he goes out on the top of his field. He shows his skill and dedication to his craft and does not use it as any sort of retribution towards people in the stories he tells. He tells stories that the everyday fan would never have known about if not told in this book. I found these stories in no way to be malicious or scandalous in any way, it was just more of a fun reflection on his career covering the Yankees.
Baseball fans and Yankee fans especially will enjoy this one. Its just a lot of fun stories from a raunchy locker room that is not always visible to the public. Readers should give this one a shot, I don’t think they will be dissapointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing