"The incomparable and mysterious Sandy Koufax is revealed.... This is an absorbing book, beautifully written." --Wall Street Journal
"Leavy has hit it out of the park...A lot more than a biography. It's a consideration of how we create our heroes, and how this hero's self perception distinguishes him from nearly every other great athlete in living memory... a remarkably rich portrait." -- Time
The instant New York Times bestseller about the baseball legend and famously reclusive Dodgers' pitcher Sandy Koufax, from award-winning former Washington Post sportswriter Jane Leavy. Sandy Koufax reveals, for the first time, what drove the three-time Cy Young award winner to the pinnacle of baseball and then--just as quickly--into self-imposed exile.
Baseball seems tailor-made for the historian, yet even today, after almost a century and a half of organized play, baseball's origins remain unclear. Most accounts focus on Eastern teams and the advent of professionals, but how the game spread across a predominantly rural America to become our national pastime is a question still largely unresolved.
In this well-researched study of Michigan baseball from the 1830s to the 1870s, baseball scholar Peter Morris offers many answers. Drawing on such sources as personal memoirs, period photographs, and an extensive, often hilarious variety of newspaper accounts, he paints a vivid portrait of a game that was widely---if erratically---played well before the Civil War and gradually evolved from an informal amusement into an activity for local groups of young men and finally into a serious, organized sport.
Baseball began with pick-up "raisin'" games---so called because they took place after rural roof-raisings---played purely for fun by any number of participants, with myriad local variations. The first amateur clubs appeared in the 1850s and were often ridiculed for playing a child's game---"baseball fever" was then a term of mockery---but as they persevered and issued challenges to other teams from nearby towns, rivalries developed, rules began to conform, and a tradition started to take shape.
Tournaments, often connected with county fairs, and increased newspaper coverage gave the game new momentum after the Civil War, and what had been sociable matches became serious contests, sometimes marred by bad blood. Enclosed grounds changed the nature of the game--most notably with respect to home runs--and allowed teams to charge admission, which introduced a new element of commercialism, community involvement, and a heightened sense of competition. Ultimately, it brought about a level of play that made the best "amateur" clubs able to challenge professional teams from the East when they toured the country.
As he traces the exploits of clubs like the Excelsiors, the Wahoos, and the Unknowns, season by season and often game by game, Morris adds a wealth of new detail to the story of baseball's early days, showing how decades of at least nominally amateur play prepared the way for the advent of the National League in the 1870s, and with it the true beginnings of the professional sport we know today. In the process, he also paints a fascinating portrait of the attitudes, values, and lives of rural Americans in the mid-nineteenth century.
Peter Morris, a former English instructor at Michigan State University, is a specialist in nineteenth-century baseball and an active member of the Society for American Baseball Research.
From the perspective of 2007, the unintentional irony of Chance's boast is manifest--these days, the question is when will the Cubs ever win a game they have to have. In October 1908, though, no one would have laughed: The Cubs were, without doubt, baseball's greatest team--the first dynasty of the 20th century.
Crazy '08 recounts the 1908 season--the year when Peerless Leader Frank Chance's men went toe to toe to toe with John McGraw and Christy Mathewson's New York Giants and Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in the greatest pennant race the National League has ever seen. The American League has its own three-cornered pennant fight, and players like Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and the egregiously crooked Hal Chase ensured that the junior circuit had its moments. But it was the National League's--and the Cubs'--year.
Crazy '08, however, is not just the exciting story of a great season. It is also about the forces that created modern baseball, and the America that produced it. In 1908, crooked pols run Chicago's First Ward, and gambling magnates control the Yankees. Fans regularly invade the field to do handstands or argue with the umps; others shoot guns from rickety grandstands prone to burning. There are anarchists on the loose and racial killings in the town that made Lincoln. On the flimsiest of pretexts, General Abner Doubleday becomes a symbol of Americanism, and baseball's own anthem, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, is a hit.
Picaresque and dramatic, 1908 is a season in which so many weird and wonderful things happen that it is somehow unsurprising that a hairpiece, a swarm of gnats, a sudden bout of lumbago, and a disaster down in the mines all play a role in its outcome. And sometimes the events are not so wonderful at all. There are several deaths by baseball, and the shadow of corruption creeps closer to the heart of baseball--the honesty of the game itself. Simply put, 1908 is the year that baseball grew up.
Oh, and it was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.
Destined to be as memorable as the season it documents, Crazy '08 sets a new standard for what a book about baseball can be.
From his perspective as a journalist and a true fan, Bob Costas, NBC's award-winning broadcaster, shares his unflinching views on the forces that are diminishing the appeal of major league baseball and proposes realistic changes that can be made to protect and promote the game's best interests.In this cogent--and provocative--book, Costas examines the growing financial disparities that have resulted in nearly two-thirds of the teams in major league baseball having virtually no chance of contending for the World Series. He argues that those who run baseball have missed the crucial difference between mere change and real progress. And he presents a withering critique of the positions of both the owners and players while providing insights on the wild-card system, the designated-hitter rule, and interleague play. Costas answers each problem he cites with an often innovative, always achievable strategy for restoring genuine competition and rescuing fans from the forces that have diluted the sheer joy of the game. Balanced by Costas's unbridled appreciation for what he calls the "moments of authenticity" that can still make baseball inspiring, Fair Ball offers a vision of our national pastime as it can be, a game that retains its traditional appeal while initiating thoughtful changes that will allow it to thrive into the next century.
- "A nickel ain't worth a dime any more."
- "It ain't over til it's over."
- "You can't think and hit at the same time."
- "I didn't really say everything I said."
- "The future ain't what it used to be."
The Boys of Summer recreates the magic of Dodger baseball as played in Ebbets Field during that brief dream when Brooklyn was the center of the universe. Robinson, Snider, Reese, Furillo, Campanella, and the rest tell Roger Kahn how it was raising hopes every year only to fall before the mighty pinstripes . . . until that unforgettable year ('55) when it all came together. At the same time Kahn masterfully interweaves the story of his own youth, from early fandom to young reporterhood, traveling with and writing about his childhood idols.
The idea of participating in a triathlon may sound out of the realm of possibility for those without a typical jock-athlete's honed build, intense focus, and competitive mindset. But now Slow Fat Triathlete opens the door to those who may not come quite so equipped. After years of obesity, poor health, and self-doubt, Jayne Williams took part in her first triathlon in 2002 to prove something to herself and became hooked on the rush of the race. Today she is a self-proclaimed "slow fat triathlete," unafraid to overcome humiliation, laugh at her foibles, have fun, and accomplish impressive goals. Slow Fat Triathlete is a book for those who may be overweight, out of shape, undisciplined, or otherwise unprepared to enter a triathlon but are curious to try. Through personal stories, practical ideas and suggestions, and uproarious anecdotes, this book inspires, encourages, and proves that with a little training, almost everybody can have a great time and reap huge rewards from pursuing their tri dreams -- and that everyone can become a participant and an athlete.
He is that rare American icon who has never been captured in a biography worthy of him. Now, at last, here is the superbly researched, spellbindingly told story of athlete, showman, philosopher, and boundary breaker Leroy "Satchel" Paige.
Few reliable records or news reports survive about players in the Negro Leagues. Through dogged detective work, award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye has tracked down the truth about this majestic and enigmatic pitcher, interviewing more than two hundred Negro Leaguers and Major Leaguers, talking to family and friends who had never told their stories before, and retracing Paige's steps across the continent. Here is the stirring account of the child born to an Alabama washerwoman with twelve young mouths to feed, the boy who earned the nickname "Satchel" from his enterprising work as a railroad porter, the young man who took up baseball on the streets and in reform school, inventing his trademark hesitation pitch while throwing bricks at rival gang members.
Tye shows Paige barnstorming across America and growing into the superstar hurler of the Negro Leagues, a marvel who set records so eye-popping they seemed like misprints, spent as much money as he made, and left tickets for "Mrs. Paige" that were picked up by a different woman at each game. In unprecedented detail, Tye reveals how Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him to the Majors, emerged at the age of forty-two to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. He threw his last pitch from a big-league mound at an improbable fifty-nine. ("Age is a case of mind over matter," he said. "If you don't mind, it don't matter.")
More than a fascinating account of a baseball odyssey, Satchel rewrites our history of the integration of the sport, with Satchel Paige in a starring role. This is a powerful portrait of an American hero who employed a shuffling stereotype to disarm critics and racists, floated comical legends about himself-including about his own age-to deflect inquiry and remain elusive, and in the process methodically built his own myth. "Don't look back," he famously said. "Something might be gaining on you." Separating the truth from the legend, Satchel is a remarkable accomplishment, as large as this larger-than-life man.
From that first day in 1963 to the latest gambling allegations, Charlie Hustle has without doubt emerged as one of the most brash, exciting sports personalities. He has more hits than anyone in the history of baseball . . . and has now written one of the most sensational sports biographies ever.