Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This BAD Day in Yankees History







REVIEWS


Book Review: “This BAD DAY in Yankees History”
by Mike Lynch (at www.seamheads.com)

Gabriel Schechter’s book, This BAD DAY is Yankees History, doesn’t just bash the Yankees, it also takes the reader on a fascinating trip through baseball’s past.

When I received my copy of Schechter’s book, I couldn’t wait to crack it open. I’m a Red Sox fan and the title told me everything I needed to know; I was about to embark on a daily journey into Yankee misery, starting on January 1 and going all the way through to New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t have been more excited had the book been titled, The Day the Yankees crashed Into the Andes and Ate Each Other (had that actually occurred in 1996-1997, God help those survivors who got too close to Cecil Fielder).

The book didn’t disappoint. The foreword was written by former Red Sox southpaw and icon, Bill Lee, who was a perfect choice to introduce readers to Schechter’s manuscript. No one had a more adversarial relationship with the Yankees than “The Spaceman,” who once compared Yankees manager Billy Martin to Herman Goering and referred to the Bronx Bombers as “George Steinbrenner’s Nazis.” Lee’s foreword was as entertaining as you’d imagine it would be.

After the introduction, the book jumps right into January 1 which features two anecdotes, the first of which details the sale of the club to Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston in 1915, which actually proved to be the best thing that ever happened to the franchise, and the second of which consists of a quote circa 1984 from a fan lamenting the presence of Steinbrenner and predicting a “long stage of dormancy” for the team (I don’t know if I’d call 10 years “long,” but the Yankees did have a relatively rough time from 1984-1993).

From there, each day includes multiple passages from throughout the team’s history, chronicling everything from the fairly innocuous—Joe Dimaggio’s marriage to Marilyn Monroe in 1954—to the potentially disastrous—hiring notorious game-fixer Hal Chase to manage the team in 1910—to the ridiculous—Billy Martin being hired to manage the Yankees five different times (he would have managed them a sixth time had he not died in 1989). Each page also includes quotes of the day, like the classic line from the .203 hitting Hank Bauer who responded to allegations that he punched a heckler in the nose in the infamous Copacabana nightclub incident in 1957 by saying, “Hit him? Why, I haven’t hit anybody all year.”

There are two things I especially enjoyed about the book, 1) being taken back to my childhood when the Steinbrenner/Martin/Reggie Jackson Yankees were as much a three-ring circus as a baseball team, and 2) reading about players and events that I’ve run across during my own research for several projects.

The former included Jackson’s “I’m the straw that stirs the drink” comment in Sport Magazine in 1977, a dugout altercation between Martin and Jackson at Fenway Park that same year, and Martin’s 1978 declaration that, “One’s a born liar (Jackson), the other’s convicted (Steinbrenner),” which led to his resignation a day later. The ‘78 season was humorously chronicled in The Bronx Zoo by former Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle and esteemed author Peter Golenbock, who wrote about the trials, tribulations, and clubhouse antics of the Yanks while they fought back from a 14 1/2 game deficit in July, then beat the Red Sox, Royals, and Dodgers on their way to a World Series title.

Schechter includes anecdotes about those seasons as well, and brings new information to light, including draft bungles that included taking Rex Hudler, Matt Winters, and Brian Ryder in the ‘78 amateur draft and bypassing Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Kent Hrbek, Mike Boddicker, Steve Bedrosian, Kirk Gibson, Bob Horner, and Dave Stieb. Every team has experienced poor drafts, and it almost appears as if Schechter is piling on, but the fact that the Bronx Bombers passed up on the “Iron Man,” to take the “Wonder Dog” is too delicious not to merit a mention.

The second thing I enjoyed about the book—the quick trips through the early 20th century—includes stories that had been lost to the last few generations of fans, including a recounting of center fielder Whitey Witt being nailed between the eyes by a soda bottle during a 1922 game in St. Louis. Witt was knocked unconscious and suffered lacerations to his head. He came back the next day with his head wrapped in bandages and drove in the winning run.

I was already familiar with that story because I’d researched it before. American League president Ban Johnson investigated the incident and eventually rewarded a salesman from St. Louis named James Hon for coming forward with information. Hon, whose seat was near the spot where the injury occurred, was given tickets to the World Series, a check for $100, and round-trip transportation between St. Louis and New York for explaining to Johnson that Witt inadvertently hit himself in the head with the bottle when he stepped on the bottle’s neck while running, causing it to “bounce up and strike him.”

Then there’s the one about 41-game winner Jack Chesbro uncorking a wild pitch in the ninth inning of the second-to-last game of the 1904 season, giving Boston a 3-2 victory and the pennant. Those were the days the Red Sox (known then as the “Americans”) competed with Connie Mack’s A’s for A.L. domination before George Herman Ruth became a member of the Evil Empire.

Of course, Schechter makes his living as a researcher at the Hall of Fame, and I expected nothing less than well-researched anecdotes. I wasn’t disappointed, nor will you be. Read it straight through from January 1 to December 31 or use it as a calendar and read it a day at a time; either way you’ll be entertained and educated.

*******************************************

This BAD Day In Yankees History
By Jimmy Scott (at http://www.jimmyscottshighandtight.com/) - Posted on 25 March 2009

January 3, 1973: Quote of the Day - George Steinbrenner: "We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned. We're not going to pretend we're something we aren't. I'll stick to building ships." If only.

This is at the beginning of the new book by Gabriel Schechter called "This BAD Day In Yankees History." As you leaf through this daily "Calendar of Calamities," you quickly find that, even though the Yankees lead Mother Earth in World Championships, they might also lead in bad luck, bad quotes, and bad players.

January 20, 1999: He Coulda Been A Contender - Brien Taylor's contract finally runs out, ending the sorriest non-career in Yankees history. The "can't-miss" left-handed pitcher was drafted in 1991 and signed for a $1.55 million bonus, but injured his shoulder in a senseless fight in 1993 (see Dec. 18), underwent surgery, struggled in the minors, and never pitched in the majors.

Fans of any other team could probably say they've had it the worst. The Phillies have lost more games than any other franchise in history. The Expos/Nationals have never made it to the World Series. The Mets... Well, does 7 games up with 17 to play ring a bell? But none of these franchises are the Yankees. Anybody can shave their head and go clubbing, but when Britney Spears does it, we've got real news. Same with baseball and same with the New York Yankees.

March 7, 1998: Now He's A Yankee! - Hideki Irabu, a bust as a Yankees pitcher, confronts critical Japanese reporters outside the clubhouse. Someone is filming them, so Irabu charges at him and wrestles him for the camera. Then he demands that still photographers hand over their film. He exposes it to ruin their shots, then throws the videotape on the floor and stomps on it.

Bill Lee, famous as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and infamous for hurting his left (pitching) arm in an on-field brawl with the Yankees (and being interviewed here last summer), wrote a Foreword for "This BAD Day In Yankees History" that is one of the most humorous forewards I have ever read. Bill Lee on Hank Steinbrenner: "He only opens his mouth to change feet."

See what I mean?

Arranged like a calendar, "This BAD Day In Yankees History" is not like one of those large wall calendars you see at Barnes & Noble beginning every October. You know what I'm talking about. When you start seeing the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar, or the High School Musical XXIII calendar, or a calendar of your favorite baseball team featuring a player on the front who was traded three weeks ago for a pack of gum and salary dump to be named later. No, "This BAD Day In Yankees History" is a perfect 6" x 6" square, not bound, but presented in a ring binder. And the cover features an illustration of the old Yankee Stadium crumbling as if armageddon had come about. Or they just didn't make the playoffs again.

July 18, 1995: After a nine-run, 13-hit bombing, Jack McDowell finally gets the hook in the fifth inning. The Yankee Stadium crowd boos him, and he responds by giving them the finger. The Yankees fine him $5,000.

To say author Gabriel Schechter did quite a bit of research compiling this is more than an understatement. It's an absolute truth. It's a 365-page book/calendar with multiple entries per day; perfect for your coffee table or bathroom. Just pick it up, pick a day, and read away. Got three minutes? Go to June 5 to read about the latest injury to Mickey Mantle in 1963. Or check out September 18th for another Quote of the Day, this time by former manager Clyde King in 1982. You'd be silly not to read June 1, where an entry about that date in 1972 shows just how a team can fall apart when they lose a game by walking in a run.

July 23, 1978: Quote of the Day - Manager Billy Martin passes judgment on his star, Reggie Jackson, and his boss, George Steinbrenner: "The two of them deserve each other. One's a born liar, the other's convicted." With this pronouncement, he taks a giant leap toward being forced to resign.

Ahh, the good old days. With "This BAD Day In Yankees History," you've got 365 of them. Enjoy.

***********************************

DrTom (posted at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/)
Day-by-Day Joy for the Yankee Hater
Reader Rating
Posted May 14, 2009, 9:05 AM EST: This Bad Day in Yankee History: a Calendar of Calamities by Gabriel Schechter, Copyright 2008

Attention NY Yankee haters, their friends and relatives: here is the book for you. A minute or so in the morning spent reading the day's entry of indictments, fights, failed bonus babies and other miscellaneous disasters will start the Yankee hater's day with a smile. Bill Lee, the ex-Major League pitcher and practicing Yankee-hater wrote in the foreword, "Fans against the Evil Empire will wish there were more days in the year."

Gabriel Schechter's talent and diligence as a researcher-a trade he also plies daily at the Baseball Hall of Fame- is well displayed here. Here we have not fuzzy recollections, but names, dates and all the bitter details. These catch the flavor:

Oct. 23, 1979: Bloomington, Minnesota-Billy Martin, assisted by six Scotches, wins a one punch fight over marshmallow salesman Joseph Cooper thus collecting a one penny bet and getting fired by George Steinbrenner.

Jan. 20, 1939: Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert's will is read, dividing his $40-45 million estate between two relatives and "someone nobody has ever heard of, a former chorus girl named Helen Winthrope Weyant.."

Nov. 13, 1973: "Two employees of George Steinbrenner's shipping company tell Senate investigators about the scheme Steinbrenner concocted to make illegal campaign contributions in 1972.. Steinbrenner will plead guilty to two charges relating to the illegal contributions."

Nov. 13, 1939: Yankee President Ed Barrow says "Night baseball is a fad and doubtless will disappear as do all fads."

Dec. 18, 1993: Lefty phenom Brien Taylor, who had received a $1.5 million Yankee signing bonus, ruins his career, "After his brother gets in a fight, the 21 year old Taylor goes to the other party's home, starts another fight, and is knocked down. His left shoulder is dislocated. and his 98 mph fastball never returns.."

Although this is a wonderful daily book/calendar for those of us out here beyond the Yankee market, one bad thought crept into my mind as I read: If all these awful things happened to the most successful franchise in Major League Baseball, how would a similar calendar for my beloved Cleveland Indians look? Note-- Before he bought the Yankees, George Steinbrenner almost bought the Tribe from Vernon Stouffer. My only suggestion for this book is that Schechter make a deal with Jim Caple to sell TBDIYH as part of a boxed set with The Devil Wears Pinstripes.

************************

Make Every Day "This Bad Day In Yankees History"
by Todd Civin [HUMOR] 9
170 reads
Humor
April 08, 2009
Every day before today was a carbon copy of the day before at work.
I'd see Braulio at the time clock. I'd punch in at 7:00 on the button. He would wait until 7:07 as if he is anointed with some sort of special privileges.
I nod at the little weasel. He nods at me.
I'm wearing my bright red t-shirt commemorating the Red Sox World Championships in 2004 and 2007. Braulio is wearing that God-awful "Got Championships?" t-shirt with the 26 brightly shining gold rings on it.
It's ripped so his furry belly hangs out, but he doesn't seem to care.
In the distance, I see two more of his Yankee cronies fell in behind him. Like a scene out of Warriors, Braulio and the "Baseball Furies" come walking towards me, spinning their metaphorical baseball bats and clanking glass coke bottles on their gnarly little digits.
"Red Sox fan...come out and plaaaa-ay", cackles the, near toothless, warehouse workers who have immigrated from Da Bronx.
I start to sweat at this point, knowing that I am clearly outnumbered. Outnumbered 26 to seven. The baseball banter begins. It sounds like a scene right out of "Who's On First".
I say "How'd Sabathia look yesterday?"
Braulio, Jose and Guido recite in unison "26 World Championships."
And I say, "Oh yeah, well A-Rod, Clemens, Giambi and Pettitte took 'roids."
And the toothless contingent stammers, "26 World Championships."
So I say, "Only team to CHOKE by blowing a 3-0 lead".
And Da Bombers say, "26 World Championships."
My face turns Red Sox Red and sweat begins to form on my brow. I say, "Well I am rubber you are glue. Anything you say bounces off me and sticks to you." I'd puff out my chest like a peacock and laugh.
Braulio and his posse of wannabes wipe the milk stain from their pre-pubescent mustaches and scratch their collective scalps. Then they say, "26 World Championships."
It continues like this until the Roach Coach arrives at 10:00 or until it's time to start working. Which ever comes first.
But today was unlike the other days. Today I came armed with a throng of facts and barbs fresh out of Billy Martin's closet. I would approach my Yankee foes with an arsenal reminiscent of that of North Korea. Today I would trump even Donald...You see. I now have history on my side.
I got home yesterday and rushed to the mail box with the speed of Little Ralphie waiting for his Ovaltine Secret Decoder ring. I fumbled through the stack of bills, fan mail, and Victoria Secrets ads to see if my "treasure" had arrived.
Author Poll
Do you "Believe in the Curse of the A-Rod?"
Yes
No
Yes with an * next to it vote to see results
And there it sat. Wrapped in plain brown wrap like a piece of well disguised Porn, was a small 5" x 5" package with Barnes and Noble imprinted in the upper right corner.
I opted to open it right there as the post man whisked away in his 1970 RFD Jeep. My fingers trembled. My heart beat raced. I reached into the brown envelope and slid it to the top like a five-year old looking for the price at the bottom of a box of Cap'n Crunch.
I threw the envelope to the ground and stared at her. She was beautiful. The cover had a decrepit looking image of crumbling Yankee Stadium. It looked like a scene out of Will Smith's Independence Day. I read the cover.
"This BAD Day in Yankee History" by Gabriel Schecter. I snickered.
Schechter, a renowned Hall of Fame writer, and admitted Yankee Hater has compiled a book/calendar which is a "Must Read" for baseball fans everywhere. Not just for Boston Boys but for anyone who has had their nose pushed in the proverbial poop by any Yankee fan.
The book, with a witty and absolutely incredible Bill Lee-esque Forward by the Space Man himself, bursts from the binding with 365 Days of Anti-Yankee Hatred.
Of course I immediately turn to my birthday (September 9, for those Yankee fans who care to send cards). The words seem to jump from the page.

"Let's Get it Over With"
"1990 - Yes, the Athletics become the first team to sweep a season's series from the Yankees, winning 7-3. It's 3-3 with two outs in the ninth inning when Willie McGee's routine fly ball is caught in a sudden gust of wind and not caught by right fielder Mel Hall. The triple sets up the winning four-run rally."

"Meet The Monster"
"1962 - Rookie Dick 'The Monster' Radatz pitches nine innings of relief to help the Red Sox sweep a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. After an easy 9-3 victory in the opener, Radatz enters in the seventh inning of Game Two. He gives the Yankees one run in nine innings, striking out nine, and the Red Sox push across a run in the 16th inning to win 5-4.

"Maybe Babe Ruth Would Have Driven in Nine"
"With Babe Ruth sidelined with appendicitis, Lou Gehrig drives in eight runs, including a three-run double in the ninth inning to the game in Detroit. But the Yankees waste his heroics, losing 14-13 in fourteen innings, and also lose the game 4-1.

"Quote of the Day"
"1990 - Mel Hall: 'It started off as a regular fly ball, but the wind took it toward the line. I turned and just ran out of room. When I turned I knew I was in trouble."

Schechter fills 365 days with stories of Yankee cheapness regarding contracts, stories of the inmates running the asylum and other tales of Bronx Bomber Buffoonery. As only Schechter can, he presents the "brighter" side of the truth, he manages to tell stories about the 83 years and 62 games per season that the Yankees didn't win instead of concentrating on the mere 26 and 100 times they did.
If you want to see the evil side of the Empire, Schechter's book is a must read. The beauty of the book is its compact size and day-by-day arrangement. Far different from the popular "Fact of the Day" calendars, Schecter's treasure is a day by day reading journal.
You can enjoy a few minutes on the john reading one day at a time or can lie on the hammock in the back yard soaking up 365 days at a time. I personally prefer the latter.
The book is available on line on the publisher's web site, Never Too Much Baseball.
Some of Schechter's other books, which are also mandatory reading for anyone who loves the sport, are Neil Liefer: Ballet in the Dirt, The Golden Age of Baseball, Unhittable; Baseball's Greatest Pitching Season, and Victory Haust; The Rube Who Saved McGraw's Giants.
His entire catalogue of sports books can be found at BarnesandNoble.com
And if you see Braulio and the Baseball Faerie, tell 'em that Todd's looking for 'em.
Someone saw them headed for the dumpster with their tails between their legs.


*********************************

New Book Is Perfect Gift For Sox Fans
Justin Booth (www.bostonspastime.com)

Anyone who was a Red Sox fan prior to October 20, 2004 (the date of Game 7 of the ’04 ALCS) has experienced the frustration and indignity of being relentlessly belittled and insulted by obnoxious, arrogant Yankees fans.

As these cretins rained verbal blows upon you, secretly you yearned for any ammunition that would allow you, just once, to go on the offensive against your mortal enemy.

Good news my downtrodden compatriots, munitions have arrived in the form of a new book entitled This Bad Day in Yankees History. Written by Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Gabriel Schechter, this book chronicles more than a century of embarrassing moments, woeful performances, ugly losses, ineptitude, misfortune, infighting and felonious behavior by the Bronx Bombers in the form of a yearly calendar.

Several historical examples and quotes of Yankee folly and stupidity are provided for all 365 days of the year.

Few, if any, dates in This Bad Day in Yankees History will offer Red Sox fans with more gratification than October 20. It was on this fateful date in ‘04 that Yankees fan Julian Kaiser uttered the following words: “The worst thing is forever we’ll be associated with a 3-0 deficit. That we blew it. It’s not the end of the world, but almost.”

No era of Yankee history is devoid of sin (much to the surprise of the cretins I’m sure) nor does any figure, no matter how revered or legendary, manage to escape the spotlight of imperfection.
On August 26, 2003, Roger Clemens served up four home runs, including a grand slam to Frank Thomas, and allowed nine runs in less than five innings against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost the game 13-2 on a day in which Clemens’ mom threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Of course, any Yankee tragedy would be incomplete without the appearance of George Steinbrenner. Luckily, This Bad Day in Yankees History affords Steinbrenner a starring role encompassing the entire range of his numerous hysterical and neurotic episodes. From second-guessing to feuding with and firing his managers to criticizing his star players to being banned from running his beloved Yankees for his association with a gambler, Steinbrenner delivers an unforgettable performance.

The best thing about This Bad Day in Yankees History though is that it allows you to wish a happy birthday to all of your friends who are Yankees fans in a very special way.

Instead of sending a thoughtful (i.e. boring) birthday card, now we can say, “Hey, today is significant not only because it’s your birthday but also because on this date (June 19) in 1977, the Sox hit five home runs against the Yanks and beat them 11-1, completing a three game sweep at Fenway during which the Yankees were out homered 16-0. Happy Birthday!”
Anyone who loathes the Yankees not only won’t be able to put this book down but will be grateful to Mr. Schechter for pulling back the curtain and exposing the many myths of the “mighty” Yankees.

The spiral-bound book is similar in structure to the popular sports trivia books and thus ideal for reading whenever, wherever and with whoever you want.


**********************

SABR Bibliography Committee Newsletter

In this year when all real Americans celebrate the absence
of the New York Yankees from post-season play, Gabriel
Schechter has produced a book to keep those memories
alive for the next year.

This BAD Day in Yankees History: A Calendar of Calamities
is a perfect bathroom book. I first discovered this
worthy genre 40 years ago with the first Macmillan Baseball
Encyclopedia. These books provide interesting information
in bites to fit any time frame or intestinal issue. And, unlike
a book with narrative, you can put it down knowing the next
inevitable visit will provide more fascinating information.
Schechter, a SABR member who works as a researcher
at the Hall of Fame, has structured the book as a calendar,
but it won’t really work as a desk model. There’s no room to
make notes or keep track of a schedule. However, it does
come with an index, allowing you to look up that anecdote
that has stuck in your memory.

Each day features three to six nuggets of bad news for the Bronx
Bombers that occurred on that day in history. There’s also
usually a quote of the day. See April 26: Oscar Gamble of
a George Steinbrenner pledge to trade him: “I would like
him to keep his word for the first time in his life….”

The anecdotes start early in Yankees history, in the
years the current keepers of the flame prepare to forget, the
years before the Yankees used their money to buy the core
of a good Red Sox team and turn it into a “Yankee Dynasty”
in the early 1920s.

There’s September 3, 1906, when Kid Elberfield attacks
umpire Silk O’Loughlin multiple times, including six
attempts to kick him; The Kid had to be subdued by police.
And, from there, it follows the trail of Babe Ruth’s
stomach, last-minute losses, trades that failed, and Yankee
players beating ostriches in spaghetti-eating contests (see
April 3).

But mostly there’s what Schechter calls the “arrogant,
rude, self-centered, and aggressive” behavior that defines an
organization that will always tell you how they represent
class.

Every Billy Martin, or Yogi Berra, or Billy Martin, or
Bob Lemon, or Billy Martin firing is detailed. There’s Casey
Stengel acknowledging he’ll “never make the mistake of
being 70 again.”

But mostly, there’s a nugget you can find in a few minutes
that allows you to feel superior to Yankees, the organization
and their fans. And, what’s a better way to start a
day.
Andy McCue



BOOK CORNER
Which leads us to "This Bad Day in Yankees History: A Calendar in Calamities." It's not really a calendar, and it's not really a book, but it no doubt has a market.
Author Gabriel Schechter is a researcher at the Baseball Hall of Fame's library, and has a handful of other works to his credit. This, however, sits afield of all of them — perfect, given Bill Lee writes the foreword.
"For a Yankees fan, this truth is going to be a bitter pill to swallow," Lee writes. "A little bit like hemlock."
The spiral-bound volume simply lists the days and offers 3-4 events for each. Sept. 14, for example, was the day in 1985 when George Steinbrenner declared Dave Winfield "Mr. May" as New York fell out of the pennant race. Cal Ripken Jr. keyed a doubleheader sweep on this date in 1982, and the A's made it four sweeps for the 1909 season.
As you'd expect, some days have far better fodder than others. But Schechter's access to history, plus the addiction to Bronx schadenfreude, certainly makes this plenty's cup of tea.
Jon Couture, New Bedford Standard-Times, September 15, 2008


September 3 is the anniversary, as some of you know, of Kid Elberfeld’s attack on umpire Silk O’Laughlin in 1906; of the Angels’ 7-0 win in 1990, as their right-fielder Dave Winfield, traded the previous May, is cheered, even though he’s a visitor; and of the Oakland extra-inning win in 1995 (a Rickey Henderson HR off John Wetteland), despite giving up 18 hits. That last game was exactly five years after manager Stump Merrill said, “We stunk the joint up in all phases of the game — offense, defense and pitching. Ugly is what it was.”
The common thread in all of the games above was that the team having a bad day was the New York Yankees. And I know this because of the book/calendar now available to all fans, This BAD Day in Yankees History, hot off the press, by Gabriel Schechter. You can look it up and read the intro at www.charlesapril.com, and if recalling bad things that happened to the Yankees makes your day, you can order a copy there, too. A perfect stocking-stuffer for your Red Sox fan friends, or just about anyone, except Yankee fans without a sense of humor.
Gene Carney, “Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown,” www.baseball1.com














No comments: