When one thinks about the Yankees the two most significant names that pop into peoples minds are usually Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. They were easily the biggest icons of their respective generations. Passing the Yankee torch from one hero to another required an overlap year and according to legend, a little bit of hostility and animosity among them. Today’s book attempts to set the record straight to the masses regarding the two massive ego’s in New York.
Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle could not have come from different upbringings. One from the big California city and the other from the sticks of Oklahoma. They were two immensely different personalities, with daunting expectations under the microscope of New York city. Regardless of their pasts they were destined to have the pennant hopes of the Yankees pinned to them for decades. Good or bad these were the two men that became the faces of the New York Yankees.
After all that has been written about Mantle and DiMaggio, one would think we have explored all the deep dark secrets that both men had. I would think we would have a great perspective on their personalities and the events that transpired in both of their lives. So what makes this one different from all the other books out there? This book tries to in theory, explain the relationship between Mantle and DiMaggio in the transition year of 1951 while they were teammates. There are lots of rumors out there about hatred and animosity between the two but not all of those rumors had legs to stand on, so this book had a clear purpose.
Tony Castro does at least weave a good story in this book. He gives the reader some background on both players lives and how they fit in the big Yankee picture. Also, he talks about some interactions between both of the stars during the 1951 season. Nothing that seems out of the ordinary between a fading star and a rookie on the rise. They were both at different stages of their careers and did not travel within the same circles, which did not seem out of the ordinary, at least to me. He also attempts to portray the seedier sides of both people, their personal relationships and how they led their lives, but still did not delve to far into the interactions between the two players.
In the end for me this book came up a little short of the target. It rehashed some points that were covered in other books and did little do dissect the interactions and relationship between Mantle and DiMaggio in 1951. It covered a lot of points that were not related to what the book was supposed to be addressing in regards to each player. This book for me had great possibilities to dispel some myths and give the reader the real story of the two. In the end it glanced over those vital points and felt more like the author was looking for some dirt or gossip to throw on the memories of both.
Check the book out, maybe you will think I am wrong in my review, but in the end I was disappointed in this one.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press
I always hate writing these kinds of posts. Perhaps it is realizing my own mortality in the end that makes them so difficult. Once again I am at the keyboard saying goodbye to another person that I considered a friend of the bookcase. Now friend can be an odd sort of term in its general meaning. I don’t mean friend in the sense that we hung out together, I mean friend in the sense that there was a mutual respect involved and correspondence between both parties. A compliment and a few tips on my writing from one of the greatest sportswriters of his time, automatically moves him to friend status. When this person gives you some decent advice, without asking to help me become better at my craft he automatically becomes more than an acquaintance. While pretty much no one would know me if they tripped over me on the street we all knew who Phil Pepe was.
Phil Pepe was one of the great sportswriters of his time. The author of many….many books that are a joy to read in their entirety and a man who never let his skill go to his head. In a business that has changed drastically over the last few decades he was the one who stood out of the crowd as one of the greats. A member of a dying breed that can never and for a multitude of business reasons will never been replaced.
There are a few authors out there that have written a lot of baseball books. No matter what they write I will read it, because honestly I want to see what their spin on that subject is. Phil Pepe was one of those authors and I was never disappointed. You could always tell his research was thorough and he had an underlying love of the game that I was always able to find in his writings. Of the first 50 baseball books I ever read at least ten were Phil Pepe’s books.
So I bid farewell to someone I have admired and respected for many years. A man who would go out of his way to say an encouraging word for a struggling blogger and an author who was always willing to sign the newest book of his I picked up for my collection. If I had known the last few books he signed for me two weeks ago would be the last, I would have never believed you.
Farewell and Thank You Phil. Writers like yourself are why I thought maybe I could do this blog to some degree and make it a modest success. You were an inspiration and didn’t even know it. The baseball writing world has lost a great one and may never recover.
Happy Reading with a heavy heart
I have mentioned in the past, that through the passage of time some players lose their magic. Sometimes locale plays a factor, other times it may be a great player on a crappy team and then there are the times when a player gets overshadowed by his own teammates. Such is the case with today’s book, and its nice to see this player get some book time.
Willie Stargell spent his entire career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They won a couple of Championships during his time and became a powerhouse for the Iron City that was tough to beat. When people think of the Pirates, automatically Roberto Clemente is the first one they speak of. He gave up his life doing something for his fellow man in need, and created a legacy that stands the test of time. But what about Willie Stargell? He played many great seasons and sometimes gets forgotten in the shadows of Clemente’s legacy.
This book is not a new release but it is one of very few out there on the market about Willie Stargell. It takes a very nice look at Willie’s career with the Pirates as well as an in-depth look at Willie’s personal life. The personal side of Willie is something new for me. We all are familiar with the career but I always felt he may have been a fairly private person and that may have effected what we were able to know about him.
His untimely death in 2001 may also have played a part in not always getting the recognition he ultimately deserved. So this book does give him some of the praise he earned and is more thorough than the biography that was first published on Willie in the early 80’s.
Since Willie is a Hall of Famer, his appeal will transcend Pittsburgh. Fans from all over the world should enjoy this book. Its a look behind the curtain, if you will, of a man we honestly don’t know that much about. Dozens of books have been written about his teammate, and now almost 30 years later there is finally another one written about Willie. Check it out because I don’t think fans will be disappointed.
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
Lets face it. The New York Yankees have always been the prettiest girl at the dance, the prom queen and grandma’s favorite at Thanksgiving dinner. They get all the ink in the press, they get all the big impact free agents, and have a seemingly endless supply of money. These reasons above have given fans plenty of reasons to hate the Bronx Bombers. In the course of winning 27 World Championships the Yankees have had the occasion to create more than one dynasty in New York. Today’s book takes at the most recent dynasty assembled in the Big Apple, down to its very core.
The last thing I want to do when I find time to read a book, is partake in the Yankees propaganda machine. After the 2014 grand retirement extravaganza that was Derek Jeter, I as a fan was tired. I more wanted to find a book that would make me enjoy the good old days of the recent Yankees without finding out why Derek Jeter was the best player ever. Even though Jeter is part of today’s book, it thankfully wasn’t dominated by Derek.
Core Four takes a look at the roads traveled by the four main players that were members of the Yankees new millennium dynasty. While that dynasty actually started in 1996, it carried over into the 21st century, so I figured that was the easiest way to categorize it. The book looks at Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and of course Derek Jeter. It shows the journey each of them made in their private lives to get to professional baseball, their minor league journeys, as well as their pecking orders in the Yankees minor league system. Finally our core four move to the majors and you review each of their individual accomplishments.
The part of the book I found most interesting was the way that these four players were present for a substantial period of success in Yankees history. Six pennants and four World Series over the course of eight seasons while these four called each other teammates. That in itself is nothing to sneeze at. But you also see how as some of these pieces moved on to other teams how the Yankees suffered. It is a really interesting look at how the foundation of that dynasty was assembled and how it functioned.
Some people enjoy Phil Pepe’s writings, and I am one of them. He is obviously New York biased which is fine if you accept that fact before you start reading the book. This is another stellar effort on his part in the telling of the Yankees dynasty and New York fans should really enjoy it.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
Sometimes just being in the right place at the right time can change everything. Some people are just lucky that way. No matter what your chosen path in life, luck always plays a part. Which brings us to today’s book……
Big Red – By: Ken Griffey
Triumph Books 2014
Ken Griffey had a distinguished career in Major League Baseball. Playing for the Yankees, Braves, Mariners and most importantly as a member of The Big Red Machine. Griffey set off from his small town Pennsylvania upbringing and made a great career for himself. Along the way Griffey had brushes with history such as the Marshall University Thundering Herd. Through extenuating circumstances he missed the plane that killed 37 members of Marshall’s team when it crashed.
Griffey went on to be a key cog in the Big Red Machine of the Reds and has lots of stories to tell about that team. From the Hall of Fame caliber players and their manager to even having some thoughts on Pete Rose. After the Reds he moved to the Yankees and you get some quick stories about George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. Quickly, you move to the Braves after escaping the Bronx Zoo, as well as a second stop with the Reds. Finally you move on to the Mariners and you get the insight of more history in the making and his proudest moments in the game.
Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. became teammates on the Mariners and the pride that Ken Sr. was overwhelming. You get some warm and fuzzy feelings from the Father in describing the sons skills and accomplishments. Ken Griffey Sr. was never someone I ever considered warm and fuzzy, but this book shines a new light on him as to how strong a bond he had with Ken Jr.
The personal side of this book shows the bond, especially between father and son, is very strong. It puts a unique perspective on the book, in the fact that you are learning more about Ken Griffey the person. You are not getting the career description like so many of these autobiographies. It is more like a story of the people around him and how they have influenced his life and career.
This is a nice, easy read that all fans should enjoy. I went into this book with Ken Sr. not being my most favored player of the era. Big Red has made me change that view somewhat. It has shown Ken Sr. the person, in a whole new positive light for me.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books