Thursday, October 12, 2006

MICKEY MANTLE: Stories and Memorabilia from a Lifetime with The Mick and other sporting reads

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mickey Mantle's 1956 triple crown year as well as the 75th anniversary of his birth "Mickey Mantle: STORIES AND MEMORABILIA FROM A LIFETIME WITH THE MICK" by award-winning sports columnist Mickey Herskowitz and the sons of Mantle, Danny and David, (Abrams: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35.00, 175 pages) is now out there - the first illustrated biography of one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

This is a book to buy, to keep, to savor. It is one that features more than 100 color and black-and-white illustrations and most noteworthy -10 removable facsimile reproductions of rare Mantle memorabilia including his minor league contract 1949 signed by Mantle and his father, a publicity form questionnaire May 1950 filled out in Mantle's own hand, an autographed photo.

The quality of all the visuals as well as the writing and re-telling of stories collected over the years focused on the "Mick" is moving and special. The book is highly recommended.
Another highly recommended book is "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis (Norton, $24.95, 299 pages). The #1 bestselling author of "Moneyball" is at it again with his story of Michael Oher, destined to one day be a NFL multi-millionaire. We travel with Lewis through a journey and understanding. Oher, one of 13 children, father unknown, his own name unknown, his mother a crack addict is how we begin. The book's narrative arc sweeps us along on the ride of a young man who until 2004 had never even touched a football and never ever played left tackle - to a moment in time where his size, strength and agility made him into a lottery-like treasure in the world of football. "The Blind Side" is a terrific and engrossing read.

"Perfect Once Removed" by Phillip Hoose (Walker and Company, $19.95, 176 pages) is timed to the 50th anniversary of the Don Larsen perfect game, October 8, 1956. It is a memoir of the author, then nine years old, whose whole life changed from that event.

"Lute! The Seasons of My Life" by Lute Olson and David Fisher (Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin's Press, $24.95, 304 pages) is an engaging and well written memoir about the Arizona basketball head coach legend.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


After slipping to third in 1959, the Yankees were back in the World Series again in 1960. The competition was Pittsburgh.

The Pirates won the first game of the series. Then Yankee bats took over .The New Yorkers won Game Two 16-3, Game Three 10-0. Behind the pitching of Vern Law and Harvey Haddix, Pittsburgh won the next two to take a three games-to-two lead. The see-saw series saw New York tie things up with a 12-0 shutout from Whitey Ford.

All of that set the stage for Game 7, a contest that stands as one of the most memorable games in World Series history.

The Yankees rallied from a 4-0 deficit to take a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. The Bucs scored five runs in the eighth inning, the final three on Hal Smith's homer, to take a 9-7 lead. A Yankee two-run rally in the top of the ninth tied the score, 9-9. Forbes Field was a madhouse.
Pittsburgh second baseman Bill Mazeroski led off the home ninth against Yankee right-hander Ralph Terry. The count on Maz was 1-0. At 3:36 P.M. it seemed there was no other sound in the ballpark except for the crack of the bat of Mazeroski against the ball pitched by Terry. Maz thought the ball would reach the wall so he ran all out of the batter's box.

Yogi Berra backed up in left field, then he circled away from the wall, watching the ball go over his head and over the wall. Then Yogi dropped to his knees in despair and anger.
Forbes Field was just the opposite it rocked. The Pittsburgh Pirates had their first World Championship since 1925. Bill Mazeroski became the first player to end a World Series with a home run.

"It's hard to believe it hadn't been done before," Mazeroski, the greatest fielding second baseman in Pirate history, said "Every day of my life I think of that home run. Wouldn't you if you had hit it? People always are reminding me of it. I suppose it must be the most important thing I've ever done."

"I was an 8 year-old Yankee fan in 1960," Bob Costas mused." I literally wept when Bill Mazeroski's home run cleared the ivy-covered wall of Forbes Field. I believe I have come to terms with it, and can see Mazeroski for what he really was: one of baseball's all-time great players.
"Mickey Mantle batted .400 with three homers, 11 RBI's, eight runs scored and eight walks in the series. It was not enough. "We outscored them 55-27," Mantle complained, "and that was not enough. The best team lost."

Five days after the series ended, Casey Stengel was fired as manager of the Yankees.
This was well before the Steinbrenner era.