Sportswriter Lally (co-author, Long Balls, No Strikes, 1998, etc.) skillfully weaves together eyewitness accounts of famous moments in Yankee history.
World Series stories form the largest part of the narrative. Yankee shortstop Frank Crosetti and Cub third baseman Woody English witnessed Babe Ruth’s “called” shot against the Cubs in the 1933 Series: Surviving film is unclear as to whether Babe pointed to center field before hitting a home run there. English tells why Babe was angry with the Chicago team; “Crow” tells what he saw and how Babe shrewdly embellished the incident. Lou Gehrig’s rapid deterioration in health in 1939 stunned friends like Elden Auker, whose playful wrestling with the Iron Horse caused Gehrig real pain. Fans, who love or hate the Bronx Bombers for always getting the best players, will be amused to see how Tommy Heinrich slipped out of the Cleveland organization and joined the Yanks in 1937. In the ’50s, the Yankees recruited the best young talent for their minor leagues, before an equitable draft system was instituted in 1965. Casey Stengel led the team to 10 World Series in 12 years, and Lally focuses on the exciting final one against the Pirates in 1960. Jim Coates, Bobby Richardson, and Ralph Terry remain perplexed by Casey’s decision to start Art Ditmar in Game One instead of ace Whitey Ford; they suggest that Casey was showing signs of senility. Willie Randolph, Roy White, and Oscar Gamble paint a flattering portrait of hard-nosed manager Billy Martin, who improved any team he led. Clutch homerun hitters—Chambliss in ’76, Reggie Jackson in ’77, and Bucky Dent in ’78—recall their dramatic blasts. Lally wraps up with the 2000 Subway Series, and 14 Yankees and 8 Mets review the big moments (Clemens vs. Piazza, Jeter’s homeruns) of the Fall Classic that the Yanks won 4–1.
New tales and golden oldies, all told with a touch of spicy mustard.