A soft, uninspired overview of the most celebrated baseball team of the 20th century and its controversial owner, George Steinbrenner.
Noted sports journalist and author Allen (After the Miracle, 1989, etc.) offers personal remembrances and thoughts about the New York Yankees, discussing briefly and pleasantly many former managers and players, including Billy Martin, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Lou Pinella, and Catfish Hunter. But nothing new is revealed, and Allen’s treatment of Steinbrenner is equally mundane. Although he cites many of the controversies that surrounded the team and made Steinbrenner at one time the most hated man in New York (for example, the constant firing of managers, the bickering among personalities, Steinbrenner’s excessive involvement with day-to-day management), he doesn’t organize the incidents and stories well enough or provide enough insight to capture the circus atmosphere that existed in the 1970s and ’80s. A similar lack of depth characterizes Allen’s skimpy coverage of Steinbrenner’s connection with gambler and con man Howard Spira, which caused the owner to be suspended from daily operation of the team for two years. The author portrays with equal shallowness the “bad” Boss (impatient and bullying) and the “good” Boss (respectful of Yankee tradition and loyal to at least some former players and employees). In addition, Allen’s unexciting prose recaptures neither the magic nor the glory of the games, providing merely a listing of the Yankees’ past and current successes.
Steinbrenner certainly merits a book exploring his fascinating evolution from despised headline seeker to respected elder statesman. This isn’t it. (b&w photos, not seen)