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A simple gem for baseball fans.

A baseball icon’s rediscovered memoir, enhanced with biographical material by the independent scholar who found it.

While researching another topic, Gaff stumbled upon a series of newspaper columns by Major League Baseball legend Lou Gehrig (1903-1941). Those columns, published by the Oakland Tribune in 1927, constitute 90 pages of this book, with Gaff’s brief biography of Gehrig and other related material comprising the rest. Gehrig was only 24 when the columns appeared. They chronicle his youthful years in New York City, unlikely metamorphosis from an awkward wannabe athlete into a Yankees icon, and wide-eyed insights into becoming teammates with, among others, Babe Ruth, who “was the first one to give me advice about keeping in condition.” Divided into nine chapters, the newspaper serial portrays a seemingly uncomplicated young man whose gratefulness for meteoric success contains no hint of jadedness. He lauds baseball at all skill levels as a tonic for American youngsters. Although Gehrig decided not to complete a college degree because the Yankees offered him a contract that he couldn’t turn down, Gehrig advocates for “college men” to consider professional baseball as a career: “I believe [they] can contribute much to the good of the game—and it’s a certain cinch that baseball can contribute much to the welfare and the benefit of the college man.” Gaff’s biographical essay contains strong research and clear prose; his account of Gehrig’s rapid development as a talented slugger is especially inspiring. In 1939, as his athletic skills visibly diminished, Gehrig was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a relentless neurological disorder that is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In addition to the biographical information, Gaff also includes some material that will be a treat for Gehrig devotees, including “Lou Gehrig’s Tips on How To Watch a Ball Game” as well as Gehrig’s lifetime statistics and a roster of “the careers of the many players in Lou’s narrative who are now largely unknown.”

A simple gem for baseball fans.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3239-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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