Foreword Review — May / June 2011
Love ‘em or hate ‘em (there is no in-between!), the New York Yankees have dominated one hundred years of professional baseball like no other team has dominated any other sport. The twenty-seven World Series titles and forty American League pennants garnered by the storied franchise only begin to describe the enormous impact the Bronx Bombers have had on America’s pastime.
From the first time they donned their famed pinstripes in 1912 (in a game they lost to their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox) to the inaugural season of their sparkling billion-dollar stadium in 2010, the Yankees’s exploits have been chronicled by some of the finest sports writers the world has ever known. The Yankees Baseball Reader collects the best of those articles, telling the story in literary snapshots of the ball club from its inception in 1903 as the New York Highlanders, with stars like Happy Jack Chesbro and Wee Willie Keeler, to today’s squad of future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez. Of course, all the other iconic Yankees are here, including Lou “the Iron Horse” Gehrig, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Brawlin’ Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and, of course, Babe Ruth, who led his team to their first World Series in 1923.
The book’s editors are each talented writers in their own right, and their skillful editing and framing of the older stories for the modern reader, by providing historical context, make all the articles seem almost freshly written. The authors seamlessly convey much of the feel of a past era and its brightest New York stars, such as their description of the incomparable Ruth: “He not only led the Yankees in the pennant race, he led them in fun. He hit, fielded, joked, drank, strutted, and cackled. And no matter how selfishly he behaved at times, teammates couldn’t help adoring him.”
This book will appeal to both the casual baseball fan and the most ardent Yankees fan alike, as the backdrop for all the stories is a changing America and evolving sport. Consider that the earlier articles recount a bygone era of thick cigar smoke on booze-fueled train trips, and of moonlighting players who used their rare days off to make a few extra bucks by playing for teams in other professional leagues. And even a knowledgeable Yankees fan will love rediscovering jewels like an interview of the erstwhile Whitey Ford, one of the best pitchers who ever toed the rubber for the New Yorkers. It is compelling to hear him describe how he had a small iron band sharpened to look like a wedding ring, so he could use it to illegally cut baseballs, affecting the way they moved on their way to the batter.
The Yankees Baseball Reader deserves a place on the bookshelf of every baseball fan in America.