OCTOBER TWELVE

FIVE YEARS OF YANKEE GLORY 1949-1953

This often rambling and convoluted memoir is Rizzuto's tribute to the 12 men who played with the New York Yankees in each of the team's championship years from 1949 to 1953. Besides Rizzuto, the October 12 were: Yogi Berra, Charley Silvera, Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Johnny Mize, Joe Collins, Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, Eddie Lopat, Gene Woodling, and Hank Bauer. While there are several reminiscences from ``the 12'' (including Bauer's being consoled by Senator John F. Kennedy over a brawl at the Copacabana), the majority of anecdotes belong to Rizzuto. He initially failed a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers when Casey Stengel ``told me to get a shoe shine box, which was unnecessary.'' Rizzuto considers Joe McCarthy ``the best manager I ever had''; still remembers with hostility Eddie Stanky kicking the ball out of his glove in the '51 World Series; and manages to gush about the generosity of George Steinbrenner. Rizzuto criticizes modern ballplayers for the money they make but can state, more than 40 years later, how much he made in the World Series between 1949 and 1951 ($17,811). He also takes David Halberstam to task, saying of his book Summer of '49, ``I can tell you that a number of his anecdotes are just plain untrue.'' But Rizzuto recalls Johnny Mize playing for the Cincinnati Reds, which never happened, and when talking about the 1941 World Series he says, ``We won the first and then they beat us four straight.'' Unfortunately, Rizzuto is referring to the 1942 Series against the Cardinals (which the Yankees lost), not the 1941 Series against the Dodgers (which they won). The chapters on the individual series read like play-by-play accounts, offering little insight. The concept behind this book was excellent. It's a shame that the Scooter and Horton (Yogi: It Ain't Over, not reviewed) have executed it in such a haphazard manner. This is strictly for the die-hard fan.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-85621-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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