Synopses & Reviews
From the teamand#8217;s inception in 1903, the New York Yankees were a floundering group that played as second-class citizens to the New York Giants. With four winning seasons to date, the team was purchased in 1915 by Jacob Ruppert and his partner, Cap and#8220;Tiland#8221; Huston. Three years later, when Ruppert hired Miller Huggins as manager, the unlikely partnership of the two figures began, one that set into motion the Yankeesand#8217; run as the dominant baseball franchise of the 1920s and the rest of the twentieth century, capturing six American League pennants with Huggins at the helm and four more during Ruppertand#8217;s lifetime.
and#160;The Yankeesand#8217; success was driven by Ruppertand#8217;s executive style and enduring financial commitment, combined with Hugginsand#8217;s philosophy of continual improvement and personnel development. While Ruppert and Huggins had more than a little help from one of baseballand#8217;s greats, Babe Ruth, their close relationship has been overlooked in the Yankeesand#8217; rise to dominance. Though both were small of stature, the two men nonetheless became giants of the game with unassailable mutual trust and loyalty. The Colonel and Hug tells the story of how these two men transformed the Yankees. It also tells the larger story about baseball primarily in the tumultuous period from 1918 to 1929and#8212;with the end of the Deadball Era and the rise of the Lively Ball Era, a gambling scandal, and the collapse of baseballand#8217;s governing structureand#8212;and the significant role the Yankees played in it all. While the hitting of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig won many games for New York, Ruppert and Huggins institutionalized winning for the Yankees.
At the dawn of the roaring twenties, baseball was struggling to overcome two of its darkest moments: the death of a player during a game and the revelations of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. At this critical juncture for baseball, the two teams that emerged to fight for the future of the game were also battling for the hearts and minds of New Yorkers as the city dramatically rose to the pinnacle of the baseball world.
1921 tells the story of a season that pitted the New York Yankees against their Polo Grounds landlords and hated rivals, John McGrawand#8217;s Giants, in the first alland#8211;New York City World Series. Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg re-create the drama that featured the charismatic Babe Ruth in his assault on baseball records in the face of McGrawand#8217;s disdain for the American League and the Ruth-led slugging style. Their work evokes the early 1920s with the words of renowned sportswriters such as Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice, and Heywood Broun, and with more than fifty photographs, offering a vivid picture of the colorful characters, the crosstown rivalry, and the incomparable performances of this classic season.
Long before there was Moneyball
, a group of investors led by baseball legend Branch Rickey proposed a new economic model for baseball. Based on an innovative approach to evaluating and developing talent, the Continental League was the last serious attempt to form a third Major League. The leagueand#8217;s brief history affords a glimpse of any number of missed chances for Americaand#8217;s game.
and#160;As one of the original Continental Leaguers, historian Russell D. Buhite isand#8212;literallyand#8212;talking and#8220;inside baseballand#8221; when he describes what happened in 1959 and 1960. Part memoir, part history, his account of the origin, development, and eventual undoing of the Continental League explores the organizationand#8217;s collective corporate structure as well as its significant role in building a thriving Minor League and forcing expansion on Major League Baseball. Buhite captures a lost era in baseball history and examines its lasting impact on the game.
One of the most influential and controversial team owners in professional sports history, Walter Oand#8217;Malley (1903and#8211;79) is best rememberedand#8212;and still reviled by manyand#8212;for moving the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Yet much of the Oand#8217;Malley story leading up to the Dodgersand#8217; move is unknown or created from myth, and there is substantially more to the man. When he entered the public eye, the self-constructed family background and early life he presented was gilded. Later his personal story was distorted by some New York sportswriters, who hated him for moving the Dodgers.and#160;and#160;
and#160;In Mover and Shaker Andy McCue presents for the first time an objective, complete, and nuanced account of Oand#8217;Malleyand#8217;s life. He also departs from the overly sentimentalized accounts of Oand#8217;Malley as either villain or angel and reveals him first and foremost as a rational, hardheaded businessman, who was a major force in baseball for three decades and whose management and marketing practices radically changed the shape of the game.
In 1910 auto magnate Hugh Chalmers offered an automobile to the baseball player with the highest batting average that season. What followed was a batting race unlike any before or since, between the greatest but most despised hitter, Detroitand#8217;s Ty Cobb, and the American Leagueand#8217;s first superstar, Clevelandand#8217;s popular Napoleon Lajoie. The Chalmers Race
captures the excitement of this strange contestand#8212;one that has yet to be resolved.
and#160;The race came down to the last game of the season, igniting more interest among fans than the World Series and becoming a national obsession. Rick Huhn re-creates the drama that ensued when Cobb, thinking the prize safely his, skipped the last two games, and Lajoie suspiciously had eight hits in a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. Although initial counts favored Lajoie, American League president Ban Johnson, the sportand#8217;s last word, announced Cobb the winner, and amid the controversy both players received cars. The Chalmers Race details a story of dubious scorekeeping and statistical systems, of performances and personalities in conflict, of accurate results coming in seventy years too late, and of a contest settled not by play on the field but by human foibles.
WINNER OF THE 2014 SEYMOUR MEDAL sponsored by the Society for American Baseball Research and finalist for 2014 SABR Larry Ritter Award
Though his pitching career lasted only a few seasons, Howard Ellsworth and#8220;Smoky Joeand#8221; Wood was one of the most dominating figures in baseball historyand#8212;a man many consider the best baseball player who is not in the Hall of Fame. About his fastball, Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson once said: and#8220;Listen, mister, no man alive can throw harder than Smoky Joe Wood.and#8221;and#160;
Smoky Joe Wood chronicles the singular life befitting such a baseball legend. Wood got his start impersonating a female on the National Bloomer Girls team. A natural athlete, he pitched for the Boston Red Sox at eighteen, won twenty-one games and threw a no-hitter at twenty-one, and had a 34-5 record plus three wins in the 1912 World Series, for a 1.91 ERA, when he was just twenty-two. Then in 1913 Wood suffered devastating injuries to his right hand and shoulder that forced him to pitch in pain for two more years. After sitting out the 1916 season, he came back as a converted outfielder and played another five years for the Cleveland Indians before retiring to coach the Yale University baseball team.
With details culled from interviews and family archives, this biography, the first of this rugged player of the Deadball Era, brings to life one of the genuine characters of baseball history.
Connie Mack (1862and#8211;1956) was the Grand Old Man of baseball and one of the gameand#8217;s first true celebrities. This book, spanning the first fifty-two years of Mackand#8217;s life, through 1914, covers his experiences as player, manager, and club owner and will stand as the definitive biography of baseballand#8217;s most legendary and beloved figure.and#160;and#160;Norman L. Macht chronicles Mackand#8217;s little-known beginnings. He tells how Mack, a school dropout at fourteen, created strategies for winning baseball and principles for managing men long before there were notions of defining such subjects. And he details how Mack, a key figure in the launching of the American League in 1901, won six of the leagueand#8217;s first fourteen pennants while serving as manager, treasurer, general manager, traveling secretary, and public relations and scouting director (all at the same time) for the Philadelphia Athletics.and#160;This book brings to life the unruly origins of baseball as a sport and a business. It also provides the first complete and accurate picture of a character who was larger than life and yet little known: the tricky, rule-bending catcher; the peppery field leader and fan favorite; the hot-tempered young manager. Illustrated with family photographs never before published, it affords unique insight into a colorful personality who helped shape baseball as we know it today.
The Philadelphia Athletics dominated the first fourteen years of the American League, winning six pennants through 1914 under the leadership of their founder and manager, Connie Mack. But beginning in 1915, where volume 2 in Norman L. Machtand#8217;s biography picks up the story, Mackand#8217;s teams fell from pennant winners to last place and, in an unprecedented reversal of fortunes, stayed there for seven years. World War I robbed baseball of young players, and Mackand#8217;s rebuilding efforts using green youngsters of limited ability made his teams the objects of public ridicule.
At the age of fifty-nine and in the face of widespread skepticism and seemingly insurmountable odds, Connie Mack reasserted his genius, remade the Aand#8217;s, and rose again to the top, even surpassing his earlier success. Baseball biographer and historian Macht recreates what may be the most remarkable chapter in this larger-than-life story. He shows us the man and his time and the game of baseball in all its nitty-gritty glory of the 1920s, and how Connie Mack built the 1929and#8211;1931 champions of Foxx, Simmons, Cochrane, Grove, Earnshaw, Miller, Haas, Bishop, Dykesand#8212;a team many consider baseballand#8217;s greatest ever.
The 1936 Yankees, the 1963 Dodgers, the 1975 Reds, the 2010 Giantsand#8212;why do some baseball teams win while others donand#8217;t?
General managers and fans alike have pondered this most important of baseball questions. The Moneyball strategy is not the first example of how new ideas and innovative management have transformed the way teams are assembled. In Pursuit of Pennants examines and analyzes a number of compelling, winning baseball teams over the past hundred-plus years, focusing on their decision making and how they assembled their championship teams.
Whether through scouting, integration, instruction, expansion, free agency, or modernizing their management structure, each winning team and each era had its own version of Moneyball, where front office decisions often made the difference. Mark L. Armour and Daniel R. Levitt show how these teams succeeded and how they relied on talent both on the field and in the front office. While there is no recipe for guaranteed success in a competitive, ever-changing environment, these teams demonstrate how creatively thinking about oneand#8217;s circumstances can often lead to a competitive advantage.
About the Author
Mark L. Armour is the author of Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball, the editor of The Great Eight: The 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and a coeditor of Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers: The 1970 Baltimore Orioles, all available from the University of Nebraska Press. Winner of the 2015 Bob Davids Award from the Society of American Baseball Research, Daniel R. Levitt is the author of Ed Barrow: The Bulldog Who Built the Yankeesand#8217; First Dynasty (Nebraska, 2008) and The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy. He is the coauthor (with Mark L. Armour) of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way.