New tales and golden oldies, all told with a touch of spicy mustard.

BOMBERS

AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE NEW YORK YANKEES

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.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60895-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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More than just a game book of college football, The Sweet Season at the innocent appeal of sports in everyday life.

THE SWEET SEASON

A SPORTSWRITER REDISCOVERS FOOTBALL, FAMILY, AND A BIT OF FAITH AT MINNESOTA’S ST. JOHN’S COLLEGE

Sports and human interest intertwine as a man rediscovers the pureness of amateur sports as well as the joys of family life.

Journalist Murphy spends a much-needed sabbatical from his stint at Sports Illustrated by taking his family to rural Collegeville, Minnesota, in order to interact with the coach and players at St. John’s, a small Benedictine college, which happens to have the best record in college football history. Through 2000, the Johnnies have won the conference title 23 times, advanced to the national playoffs 16 times, advanced to the title game 4 times, and have won it 3 times—thanks mainly to its head coach, John Gagliardi, the NCAA’s winningest active coach (second on the all-time list to the retired Eddie Robinson) and a regional celebrity. Gagliardi is a friendly and sometimes elusive, Yoda-like coach who insists that his quarterbacks call their own plays and who hides a strategist’s mind behind an unassuming style. But besides Gagliardi, and talented players such as Tom Linnemann, it is the atmosphere of the school itself that Murphy credits with the success of the Johnnies. At first experiencing some culture shock, Murphy and his family settle into life at this place where the Benedictine monks set the reflective tone and unhurried pace. And while Murphy gets involved with the team, he also reconnects with his wife, Laura, and his two young children. With appealing humor, Murphy recounts how he acquires newfound respect for what his wife goes through on a daily basis and how, in turn, Laura sees in her husband “more of the guy she fell in love with.” The epilogue gives a brief synopsis of the 2000–01 year, when the Johnnies lost to Mount Union in the Stagg Bowl.

More than just a game book of college football, The Sweet Season at the innocent appeal of sports in everyday life.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-019547-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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An appealing mix of baseball and cultural history.

SUMMER OF '68

THE SEASON THAT CHANGED BASEBALL--AND AMERICA--FOREVER

During one of the most tumultuous years in our history, a remarkable baseball season unfolded.

In 1968, most baseball players had to work a second job to make ends meet. There were no wild-card teams or division winners. That year the Detroit Tigers became only the third club in history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the powerful St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic. Showcasing this looming match-up, Wendel (Writing/Johns Hopkins Univ.; High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time, 2010, etc.) foreshortens the season by focusing on the stories of individual Tigers Gates Brown, Willie Horton, Dick McAuliffe and, especially, pitchers Denny McLain, who won an astonishing 31 games, and Mickey Lolich, the Series MVP. The author also looks at Cardinal stars Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Orlando Cepeda and especially pitcher Bob Gibson, among the game’s all-time greatest. He charts the thrilling Series game by game. More intriguing, though, is the season’s unique backdrop: the “Year of the Pitcher” in baseball and the national turmoil surrounding the sports world. In addition to McLain and Gibson’s heroics (both won the Cy Young and MVP awards), the season saw five no-hitters (including a perfect game by Catfish Hunter), a consecutive game strikeout record by Luis Tiant and an unprecedented scoreless innings streak by Don Drysdale. Meanwhile, the country was falling apart. Urban riots and massive antiwar demonstrations helped persuade LBJ not to run again. By the time the Chicago Democratic Convention exploded in the streets, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had already been assassinated. Wendel touches briefly on how the year agitated other sports, but he focuses on the baseball story and the athletes accustomed to ignoring the outside world. They found that impossible to do in the chaotic year of ’68.

An appealing mix of baseball and cultural history.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-306-82018-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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