Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Book Review "Yankee Classics" and more . . .

For those who love them and for those who hate them,one thing that is certain about the Yankees of New York = the books keep coming.

And now there is "Yankee Classics" edited by Les Krantz, foreword by Whitey Ford with a DVD by Reggie Jackson (MVP Books, $30.00, 176 pages. The attractive coffee table book chronicles the 40 World Series appearances and the 27 world championships won by the team from the Bronx from 1921 to the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Murderers Row 1927 team to the 1936 group that beat the Giants to the 1977, 1978 Bronx Zoo Reggie teams, to the 2000 Three Peat at the expense of the Mets, to 2009 and the "Core Four" getting the club back on top. There is much to like about the images, the summations, the history.
"Play Their Hearts Out" by George Dohrmann (Ballantine Books,$26.00, 432 pages) is a page turner, an important book. The author, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter for SI put eight years into researching and interviewing for and writing this gem of a book focused on California youths playing basketball in particular - Demetrius Walker, a "can't miss prospect." Their NBA dreams, the commercialism, college recruiting, the power of sneaker companies all of this and more mingle and make the reader recoil at and reflect on what goes on in the youth basketball machine.

"Sports Justice" by Robert I. Abrams (Northeastern University Press, $35.00, 224 pages) focuses on sports law decisions that transformed the business of sports. Of interest to legal scholars and also sports fans, Abrams congently presents case after case.

"The C.H.I.L.D. GAME PLAN" by Bruce A. Tollner with Tim Enochs (REP 1 Publishing Group, $22.99, 163 pages) is a slim tome focused on how parents can make the most of their time with their children using the The C.H.I.L.D. GAME PLAN presented by the authors.

Most people have really had enough of Tiger Woods and his story. But the hits keep coming. Now there is "His Father's Son" by Tom Callahan (Gotham Books, $27.00, 284 pages). Callahan has the credentials to do a terrific job and he does up to a point. So much of the story of Tiger and his dad Earl is well known and has been wildly and widely reported. However, if you have not gotten your fill Callahan does a sensational job of writing this tale.

Harvey Frommer is his 34th consecutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 40 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." Frommer's newest work CELEBRATING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION for March 2011 publication.

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

Harvey Frommer "Dartmouth's own Mr. Baseball" -- Dartmouth Alumni Magazine
Harvey on Twitter:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yankees, World Series, 2001

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

With Yankee fans fingers crossed for another autumnal appearance in the big show, here's a flash back in non-fiction narrative and exciting oral history to an appearance in 2001.

In 2001, the World Series did not start until Saturday, October 27th, the latest start date ever. The Yanks, facing the Diamondbacks, became the first club to appear in four straight World Series since the Bronx Bombers of 1961-64.

RICH MARAZZI: First game after 9/11 going from my car in the parking lot to the Yankee clubhouse I was photo ID'd four times. In the press box there were about as many policemen as there were writers.

BRAD TURNOW: October 30th: Game Three. My fiancée Tara, now my wife, and I were sent four blocks in one direction and four blocks in another direction. Three and one half hours to get to our seats in the bleachers -- which to me is where all the real Yankee fans go -- and we got there with just five minutes to spare.

We had to go through metal detectors. They went through everything. You could not bring anything into that game except for what you had in your pocket. There was security everywhere. There were cops everywhere, undercover cops, police on horseback, soldiers, big machine guns.

JON MILLER: Broadcasting in Baltimore, I'd seen presidents come to the old Memorial Stadium and then the new Camden Yards. I'd seen Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton throw out the first ball. But I will never forget the night of October 30, 2001 when President Bush came out at Yankee Stadium.

With the other presidents, there would always be a crowd: reporters, photographers, Secret Service agents.

But this night, when Bob Sheppard said: "And please welcome the President of the United States," the President came out of the Yankee dugout all alone. He walked to the mound and threw the pitch from the top of the mound like he was a player. It was a strike. And Bob Sheppard said: "Thank you, Mr. President."

What an ovation! There was such a sense among the fans that night.

BRAD TURNOW: Our Commander in Chief, bare-headed and wearing a light grey-blue NYFD jacket (apparently covering a bulletproof vest) had thrown a perfect pitch. He waved to the crowd. They roared and cheered as the F 15's flew overhead.
There were 55,820 people at the Stadium that chilly night. You had the coats, the hats. People were bundled up. I wore my 1998 championship New York Yankees jacket and my Yankee cap.

We had come back from Arizona down two games to none in the World Series. Spirits were a little down but Jose Posada got them up quickly hitting the home run in the second inning. You could feel the Stadium shake.

Roger Clemens was a little tenuous early on. He had some problems with the splitter. Balls were going into the dirt. Top of the fourth, Arizona tied it. Clemens finally handed the game to Rivera in the eighth inning.

It was Number 18, Scott Brosius, who had the big hit. A single in the sixth putting the Yanks up 2-1.

When Rivera came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth, the place went nuts. And when he got the final out in the ninth, the place shook again. Yankees won it, 2-1.
The next night was Halloween. Derek Jeter came to bat in the bottom of the tenth. There were two outs. October became history.

The scoreboard messaged: "WELCOME TO NOVEMBER BASEBALL." At 12:04 a.m., Jeter slammed Byung-Hyun Kim's 3-2 pitch for a walk-off home run into the right field stands. The Yankees had a 4-3 victory.

MICHAEL KAY: CBS RADIO: Swung on and drilled to right field, going back Sanders, on the track, at the wall...SEE YA! SEE YA! SEE YA! A home run for Derek Jeter! He is Mr. November! Oh what a home run by Derek Jeter!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Don Larsen - The Perfect Game October 8, 1956 (From the Vault)

I have been asked a million times about the perfect game." Don Larsen said. " I never dreamed about something like that happening and everybody is entitled to a good day and mine came at the right time.
"I still find it hard to believe I really pitched the perfect game," Don Larsen said. "It's almost like a dream, like something that happened to somebody else."
The image of the Yankee right-hander casually tossing the ball from a no-stretch windup to Yogi Berra remains as part of baseball lore. Larsen struck out Junior Gilliam on a breaking ball to start the game. Then the 3-2 count on Pee Wee Reese ­ and the strikeout.
It all blended together - the autumn shadows and the smoke and the haze at the stadium, the World Series buntings on railings along the first and third base lines, the scoreboard and the zeroes for the Dodgers of Brooklyn mounting inning after inning.
The 6'4," 240 pound hurler threw no more than l5 pitches in any one inning against the mighty Dodgers of Campanella, Reese, Hodges, Gilliam, Robinson, Snider and Furillo.
A second inning Jackie Robinson line drive off the glove of Andy Carey at third was picked up by Gil McDougald. Out at first. Mantle's great jump on a fifth inning line drive by Gil Hodges positioned him for a backhand grab of the ball. Hodges eighth inning hot shot down the third base line was converted into an out by Andy Carey. Sandy Amoros and Duke Snider of the Dodgers hit balls into the right field seats - foul but barely so.
Just two seasons before Don Larsen pitching for Baltimore had one of the worst records ever (3-21). He became a Yankee in the fall of 1954 in a 17-player trade. " Nobody lost more games than me in the American League that year," Larsen said. " But two of my wins came against the Yankees. That's probably why I came to them.
In 1956, "Gooneybird," his teammates called him that for his late-night behavior, posted an 11-5 record. In his next-to-last start of '56, Larsen unveiled his no-windup delivery. "The ghouls sent me a message," he joked explaining why.
Larsen started Game 2 in the World Series against Brooklyn. He was atrocious walking four, allowing four runs in 1 2/3 innings. There was no one more shocked than the big right-hander when he learned when he arrived at Yankee Stadium that he be the starter in Game 5.
Now he was finishing it. "Everybody suddenly got scared we weren't playing the outfield right," Stengel said. "I never seen so many managers." The Yankee infield of first baseman Joe Collins, second baseman Billy Martin, shortstop Gil McDougald and third baseman Andy Carey were ready for any kind of play.
The Yankees were clinging to a 2-0 lead scratched out against veteran Sal Maglie, age 39. Gilliam hit a hard one-hopper to short to open the seventh inning,and was thrown out by Gil McDougald. Reese and Duke Snider flied out. In the eighth, Jackie Robinson grounded back to Larsen.Andy Carey caught Hodges' low liner at third base. Amoros struck out.
The huge crowd of 64, the stadium cheered each out. The game moved to the bottom of the ninth inning. "If it was 9-0, Larsen would've been paying little attention," Berra remembered. "It was close and he had to be extremely disciplined. He was. At the start of the ninth I didn't say a thing about how well he was throwing. I went to the mound and reminded him that if he walked one guy and the next guy hit one out, the game was tied."
"The last three outs were the toughest," the Indiana native. recalled. "I was so weak in the knees that I
thought I was going to faint. I was so nervous I almost fell down. My legs were rubbery. My fingers didn't feel like they belonged to me. I said to myself, 'Please help me somebody.'"
The 64,5l9 in the stands were quiet. Four pitches were fouled off by Furillo and then he hit a fly ball out to Bauer in right field. Campanella grounded out weakly to Billy Martin at second base. Left-handed batter Dale Mitchell pinch hit for Sal Maglie. It would be the final major league at bat for the 35-year-old lifetime .3l2 hitter. Announcer Bob Wolff called it this way:
"Count is one and one. And this crowd just straining forward on every pitch. Here it comes....a swing and a miss! Two strikes, ball one to Dale Mitchell. Listen to this crowd! I'll guarantee that nobody - but nobody - has left this ball park. And if somebody did manage to leave early man he's missing the greatest! Two strikes and a ball. . . Mitchell waiting, stands deep, feet close together. Larsen is ready, gets the sign. Two strikes, ball one, here comes the pitch. Strike three! A no-hitter! A perfect game for Don Larsen!"
That final pitch - Larsen's 97th of the game that took just 2 hours and six minutes - was the only one that elicited controversy.
"The third strike on Mitchell was absolutely positively a strike on the outside corner," Berra maintains to this day. "No question about it. People say it was a ball and that I rushed the mound to hug Larsen to make the umpire think it was a strike. Nonsense. It was a perfect strike."
Casey Stengel was asked "Was that the best game he had ever seen Larsen pitch?"
"'So far,'" was the Yankee manager's response.
The rest of Larsen's 14-year career - with eight teams - consisted of unbroken mediocrity punctuated with flashes of competence. He finished with an 81-91 record and 3.78 ERA.
Named the MVP of the Series by Sport magazine for his epic feat, Larsen received a Corvette. He also earned about $35,000 in endorsements and appearances, including $6,000 for being on Bob Hope's TV show. He spent $1,000 for plaques commemorating the game and gave them to his teammates, Yankee executives, the six umpires, his parents and close friends.
The man who the reached perfection also received many letters and notes including this one:
"Dear Mr. Larsen: It is a noteworthy event when anybody achieves perfection in anything. It has been so long since anyone pitched a perfect big league game that I have to go back to my generation of ballplayers to recall such a thing ­ and that is truly a long time ago.
"This note brings you my very sincere congratulations on a memorable feat, one that will inspire pitchers for a long time to come. With best wishes, Sincerely, Dwight D. Eisenhower President of the United States "I pitched for 14 years with 8 different clubs and won only 81 games," Larsen said. " Hey, I gave it my best shot and I tried and I wish my record had been better but I was very pleased to get into the World Series and pitch the Perfect Game. And I guess that is what I will always be remembered for.
"I have been asked a million times about the perfect game," Larsen mused. "I never dreamed about something like that happening. Everybody is entitled to a good day, and mine came at the right time."