THE LIP by Gerald Eskenazi


A Biography of Leo Durocher
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 A largely successful attempt to set the record straight on one of baseball's stormier superstars and, perhaps, to gain him a posthumous niche in the Hall of Fame. As veteran New York Times sportswriter Eskenazi (Bill Veeck, 1987, etc.) makes clear, Durocher (a slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop from West Springfield, Massachusetts) made the most of his limited talents. All told, he spent over 40 years in the major leagues, playing for or managing such notable clubs as the 1928 New York Yankees (with Gehrig, Ruth, etc.), the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals (of Gas House Gang fame), the 1951 New York Giants (pennant winners, thanks to Bobby Thomson's dramatic last-of-the- ninth homer), and the 1969 Chicago Cubs (whose stretch-run collapse let the New York Mets waltz to a world championship). A firm believer in his own notorious credo that ``nice guys finish last,'' Durocher (who died in 1991 at age 86) would do whatever it took to come out ahead off the diamond as well as on. A regular on the cafe-society/show-biz circuit (where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Frank Sinatra and George Raft), his high-wide-and-handsome lifestyle earned him a one-year suspension from baseball in 1947. While the proximate charges were vague in the extreme, Eskenazi leaves little doubt that the brash baseball man deserved chastening. And Durocher is also overdue for a plaque at Cooperstown, in the author's persuasive view. Pointing out that only five of the ten managers voted into the baseball pantheon compiled better career records than Durocher's, Eskenazi argues that it's time for old enemies to bury the hatchet and make room for the Lip. An anecdotal, warts-and-all portrait of a rugged individualist who did it his way, which should appeal to fans of any age. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-11895-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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