Sunday, April 12, 2009
THE BOOK REVIEW
“George” by Peter Golenbock
I had two chance encounters with George Steinbrenner and both were memorable.
I was sitting in his office at Yankee Stadium with the late Robert Merrill, the great opera singer, who for many Yankee fans was better known as the man who sang the "Star Spangled Banner." I was interviewing Merrill for a profile. This was late 1980s. Steinbrenner charged in, military stance, bristly and in charge.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he snapped at me.
"I was invited in here by Mr. Merrill."
When I explained, the Yankee principal owner relaxed and told me to get myself a drink. I declined saying I wanted to fully concentrate on my interviewing job at hand. Hearing that and no longer of interest to him apparently, Steinbrenner exited.
The second meeting was around the same era at Madison Square Garden at half time in the VIP quarters where drinks flowed freely and most tried to show off their hoop IQs. Steinbrenner came by and exchanged pleasantries with the late Red Holzman, then the former and legendary coach of the New York Knicks who I was with.
“The Boss” then turned to me.
“And you are writing Red’s autobiography.”
“Yes,” I said.
Those two encounters with G. Steinbrenner revealed a lot about the man. But those two encounters only were surface insights.
To read "George” by Peter Golenbock (Wiley, $26.95, 366 pages) is to get the total package of a complex, driven, nasty man who has his “good side,” too.
"George” is a page turner carefully crafted by one of America’s most skilled sports authors. It is a book that is part Golenbock autobiography but all Steinbrenner. Sub-titled “The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built The Yankee Empire,” is a tome created over a couple of decades from more than 100 interviews and prodigious research.
Golenbock, a best selling author several times over, has out-done himself in this sweeping narrative of George Steinbrenner’s life and times. Golenbock has out-done himself in this terrific tome that gives an up close and sometimes too personal portrait of the man many have called "the Boss."
To read "George" is to read the definitive book on the principal owner of the Yankees.
BOOKENDS: “The Baseball Economist” by J. C. Bradbury (Plume, $15.00, 337 pages, paper) is a treatise and an argument about many of baseball’s cherished myths - like steroids are not the reason for behind the breaking of home run records, etc.
“The 1969 Miracle Mets” by Steven Travers (The Lyons Press, $24.95, 185 pages) was created to pay homage to one of the more popular NYC baseball teams. Unfortunately, it falls short in many ways – priced too high for too little, rehashing rehashed data and recycling stock photos – Met fans deserve better.
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including “New York City Baseball,1947-1957″ and “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball”. His “Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House that Ruth Built” (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime. His REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK will be published in 2010.
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
**Last call for Fenway Memories - now working on "Remembering
*****Fenway Park" - will feature stories– first game attended, marker moments, odd events, tales of a special player at the Fens, architectural features... Please contact me by e-mail if you have something to contribute.