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
I have never bought in to the New York Yankees mystique per-se. I see they are a force to be reckoned with that is rich with historical pride, but have never 100% drank the Kool-Aid if you will about the Yankees being the be-all end-all of Baseball teams. Maybe that’s the by-product of growing up in another city that had their own MLB team or my disdain for fans that become front runners when a team finds success much like people do with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. But all of the above being said how can anyone not like and admire Thurman Munson?
I just finished reading Munson, The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel (2009)
Quite honestly when I started this book I expected another Yankee biography. What I got was something totally different. This book takes a journey through Thurman’s childhood in Canton and touches on his family growing up which in my opinion was rough in its own right. It walks you through High School and the Minor Leagues and through these areas you get a glimpse of his budding pride. It is that pride that shows you what the true person really was about. You easily see the love of his family …. which unfortunately led to his untimely death. You see the pride in his team mates and his love of the Yankees.
Now some of these above mentioned things you see in other Biographies about Thurman, but what you really get here with Marty Appel’s astute writing is you get the perspective of all this from someone whom you could almost call Thurman’s confidant or even his friend. Perhaps that comes from writing his first Biography before his death in 1979. From descriptions in the book you get the feeling Thurman really never let people close and covered that by his generally Curmudgeon demeanor. But it seems as the story goes on you had to be someone he trusted to a great degree for him to let you past that persona. I get the feeling that from this book Marty Appel became as time went on an actual friend to Munson and the Munson family.
The greatest thing about this book was that you got to see the real person behind the image. You got to see his love of his family and the personal dealings he had with people. You also get a glimpse of the family themselves. It really put some humanity to the Yankee Legend beyond the public image. You also get to read about the start of his plans to live life after Baseball. Such as business deals and real estate deals he was getting involved in. Thurman was truly starting to feel the everyday pains of being a Catcher all those years and it put an aire of mortality to at least his Baseball career. It’s the overwhelming irony that 35 years later you can see to some degree it also being the mortality of the man himself. The only part of this book that was a little troubling for me was the fact that I was reading the chapter on the plane crash which goes into great detail as to what went wrong……on the anniversary of the actual day it happened so that was a little unnerving for me.
My final word on this book is it is an enjoyable read that flowed from chapter to chapter very smoothly and has led me to now want to read the 1979 version of Thurman’s biography because to an extent I believe this was the unmasked version of him that the world always had trouble getting to see. It makes it easier to understand why he was the legend he was both on and off the field.
On a side note I think Thurman belongs in the Hall of Fame, not because he was A Yankee or because he was killed way to young, but because of his numbers. Let those numbers stand for what they are, not being well what could he have done if he still continued. It’s just my opinion but I think maybe his demeanor has the gruff curmudgeon may have played a part in his exclusion……Maybe someday.
Time heals all wounds but I still think this one is pretty fresh for a lot of fans and the people involved and for some I think it may never heal.