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REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (Fall 2008)
BLEACHER REPORT - Book Review
Remembering Yankee Stadium by Harvey Frommer documents the Stadium's storied history in pictures and words in this handsome coffee table volume. Anyone with even a mild interest in baseball will enjoy this book due to the part Yankee Stadium and the Yankees play in our nation's sports history.
The book's arrangement, with each chapter covering a decade, makes it fun to read. It begins with a list of all the people quoted throughout the book, with descriptions of who they are. Quotes are then shown in separate text blocks embedded within the narrative, and it is easy and informative to flip back to the list for reference. The narrative and quotes tell the story of both the team and the Stadium since its opening in 1923. Hundreds of pictures, many of which are full page, accompany the text. They show the Stadium itself and many of the Yankee players throughout their history.
If you love the Yankees or simply have an abiding interest in baseball, this book will provide you with many pleasurable hours of recalling memories through its many pictures and loads of interesting tidbits and anecdotes about our most storied baseball team and its home field for eighty-five years, Yankee Stadium.
-- AMERICAN THINKER
The Ivy League professor and celebrated and accomplished author of such works as Rickey and Robinson, Growing Up Baseball and A Yankee Century was humble enough to admit he could not tell the story of Yankee Stadium all by himself. An edifice of this magnitude, an icon of this importance, and a history this varied would require several voices to weave the tapestry of its lifetime. Frommer knew that the story of Yankee Stadium would best be told by the people who lived it, and not just by the writers and players, but by fans, hot dog and ticket vendors, broadcasters, coaches, executives, and even bloggers, though sadly none of my stories appear in the book.
Don't get me wrong: I had my chance. Frommer solicited help from anyone who would offer it, including anyone on his email list, and I could have submitted something. Alas, the book is probably better without my self-absorbed, incoherent rambling anyway. That's why I have a blog!
Remembering that I'm supposed to be writing a book review... Remembering Yankee Stadium is truly a wonderful book. For one thing, it's huge, an inch thick and 10" x 11" hardcover, with lots of photographs, many of which span both pages, meaning that they're almost two feet across when the book is opened flat. Some of these are team photos, or panoramic views of crowds in the stands, or of crowds out of the stands, rushing the field after a playoff victory. One shows Reggie connecting for his third homer of that 1977 World Series game, but the best is a full, 2-page shot of Mickey Mantle's follow-through on a home run swing. Simply classic.
There are lots of smaller photos as well, of course, from Ruth and Gehrig and Muesel to DiMaggio and Gordon and Heinrich to Martin and Mantle and Maris and Ford to Nettles and Chambliss and Reggie and Gator and Donnie Baseball and Bernie and Rocket and Pettitte and Moose and Jeter and A-Rod. Some of the famous and/or controversial plays are detailed four images on a page, showing the play in question as it unfolded. World Series programs and tickets are shown, including ones that have been blown up to make the inside front and back covers, not to mention all of the "inside" shots from the clubhouse and behind the scenes.
But my favorite from the whole book is on page 87. It's from the archives at Cooperstown, in the chapter on the 1950's, and it's a full-page image looking southwest across Yankee Stadium to the Polo Grounds. The one in Frommer's book has about an inch and a half rip in the photo on the far right, on the edge of the page, traversing the road behind the left field grandstand, with another wrinkle below that, and another small, jagged tear along the third base line. The photo is reproduced so clearly that it will actually look like that page in the book is ripped.
Seeing those imperfections and knowing that this one came from the Hall of Fame makes me wonder who took it, and when, and who's had it for the last 50 or 60 years. Where did that tear come from? Was this in a shoebox in some reporter's closet, forgotten for 30 years? Did somebody's kid rip it accidentally, or did it happen in transit? Did Harvey do it? Was Cooperstown pissed? These kinds of questions come up, not just with this photo, but with nearly every one of those old photos and ticket stubs and programs, and that's most of the fun of paging through this book: Pondering who else has seen these images, who helped to create them and what they were thinking at the time.
And if those were not enough, the stories that have come from more than three quarters of a century in perhaps the most famous sports venue in history, as told by the people who lived them, make this book that much better. Frommer weaves the hundreds of stories shared by dozens of people into his own narrative of the history of the ballpark, to give you a personal feel for a myriad of moments throughout the history of this storied franchise and its famed home.
There are stories from Bobby Richardson and Brooks Robinson, Rollie Fingers and Whitey Ford, Jon Miller and Bob Wolff, Michael Dukakis and Rudy Guliani, Jim Bouton, Roger Kahn, Ralph Houk, Frank Howard, Don Larsen, Phil Rizzuto, Rod Carew, Bill Lee, Dick Groat and Monte Irvin, just to name a few. There are dozens of others, including some you've never heard of, because they're just fans, like you and me. All these varied viewpoints help to paint a broad, detailed, multidimensional picture of this hallowed ground and the men and women who've walked and run on it. For Frommer, the master painter, this must be considered his masterpiece.
"RYS beats any Yankee Book out there hands down. Who better to write and compile a tribute to an icon such as Yankee Stadium than renowned baseball/Yankee author Harvey Frommer who makes great use of every Yankee and baseball player he either wrote about or met over his illustrious career. My Yankee Cap is tipped to Harvey Frommer who has outdone himself once again." -
Spectacular new book on Yankee Stadium - -billyball.com
"Author Harvey Frommer brings the story of Yankee Stadium's past to us in its full and vivid glory."
- - BOB SHEPPARD
"The baseball books lead off with Harvey Frommer's timely Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45, 240 pages, ISBN 9781584797166). Frommer provides a nostalgic, factually keen description of the formidable ball yard through its many baseball seasons, 1923 through 2008 (set to be replaced in 2009 by a new facility). He also interpolates hundreds of quotable quotes from dozens of ballplayers and managers (Yankees and otherwise), front-office executives, broadcasters, newspaper writers, team employees and even garden-variety fans, all of whom share their unique perspectives on the great games they witnessed and the specialness of the Yankee Stadium baseball experience. The photographs are even more gratifying: black-and-white and color stills stirringly evoke the Yankee legacy, from Ruth and Gehrig through Rodriguez and Rivera. The foreword is by longtime stadium PA announcer Bob Sheppard, a legend in his own right, who observed the Bronx Bombers firsthand for some 50 years, through good times and bad."
"The publisher, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, continues to uphold its reputation for putting out handsome books that any reader of whatever subject matter is at hand --- movies, art, sports --- would enjoy. Frommer, who lives and teaches in the heart of "Red Sox Nation," is once again dead solid perfect in conveying the image the Yankees had on not only sports but the all-American ideal (if you overlook their policy on minority players) for much of the 20th century. He enlists the help of dozens of players (both Yankees and their opponents), journalists, politicians and just plain folks for the oral history aspects. The artwork is amongst the best ever put down on paper for this type of book. One would expect to find the same familiar pictures they've seen for years, but the editors (and Harvey Frommer)have managed to unearth photos heretofore unbound in a baseball volume."
"A gorgeous new over-sized book Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of "The House that Ruth Built"
Nothing is sacred in sports commerce. Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, is no more. A new Yankee Stadium will open next season and one of the great traditions of baseball will be gone.
For baseball lovers, but especially for Yankee fans, you must get Harvey Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $45).
This massive testament to one of the great sports venues in the world is more than just a pretty coffee-table book. Frommer, who has written 40 sports books, has put together an oral history of the Yankees from players, clubhouse boys, sports writers, fans ... hell, he even has Michael Bolton in the book. But don't hold that against him.
This is everything a great sports book should be. Frommer knows Yankee history and lore backwards and forwards, and this is the sort of book you'll end up reading cover to cover a half dozen times.
The pictures are phenomenal especially a lot of full-page, full-color previously unpublished photos from the Roger Maris-Mickey Mantle era. Though he has a lot of oral history in the book, all of the disparate quotes are connected by a great narrative. Frommer is particularly good is describing that wonderful 1961 season.
This is the Christmas present that will get you through the rough spots, and help you keep your eyes on the prize: Opening Day in April.
And it will make you wonder: Do they really have to tear it down?
-- Daily Loaf
"Every baseball fan should be proud to own or give "Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of "The House That Ruth Built" by Harvey Frommer. This is the definitive book on Yankee Stadium, and much of it focuses on the ballpark prior to the renovation that removed most of its charm. This is a beautiful coffee table book."
- DUGOUT CENTRAL
In 2008, several books were published to cash in on the wave of nostalgia, even though none of them actually included any information about the final season). Frommer is a veteran author, with forty sports titles, including eight on the Yankees alone. He does not resort to the same old photos and anecdotes, but digs deep into the wealth of information about each decade. He has enlisted players-both Yankees and opponents-as well as bat boys, team officials, fans (including Sal Durante, the man who caught Roger Maris 61st home run), and others to share the memories of the good and bad times. This handsome coffee table edition is the perfect format to present the Yankees in "larger-than-life" words and pictures. - -Fore Word Reviews
"Spectacular new book about Yankee Stadium by Harvey Frommer entitled "Remembering Yankee Stadium"
"Sportswriter Harvey Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium is an exhaustive account of The Cathedral of Baseball and a moving tribute from nearly a hundred voices, former players and pinstripe devotees alike."
"In this biography of a building in the Bronx, Harvey Frommer, an accomplished writer about many facets of baseball, illuminates the truth of Winston Churchill's famous aphorism that "we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." This history of Yankee Stadium is a fine contribution to the history of the national pastime."
-- GEORGE F. WILL
Harvey Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium is a wonderful chronicle of the greatest baseball stadium of all time. There are many interesting features in this book. The book contains many historical photos of the park and famous people who visited the stadium. A time line ties all the chapters together. Each chapter covers a decade starting in the1900s when the then Baltimore Orioles moved to New York City and became the Yankees. At the beginning of each chapter there is a chart which shows the team stats for the year, including final standings, won-lost record, Manager and attendance. Other special features include: a section on Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in the 1940s; the home run race between Maris and Mantle in the 1960s; and Reggie Jackson's 3 home runs in 3 consecutive swings in the 1970s. The book brings us right up to date with a discussion of the players' lockout and strike, the effect of September 11th on baseball, and the steroid controversy. The appendix contains charts on all-time attendance, honorees in Monument Park, broadcasters over the years, Stadium Firsts, No-hitters, etc. Anyone who loves the game will really enjoy this book.
-- GREENWICH PUBLIC LIBRARY
"This book is big and beautiful and filled with glorious memories, just like the ball park it memorializes. Harvey Frommer has the eye of a historian and the heart of a fan.
Fans will treasure this gem for many, many years.
--JONATHAN EIG, "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig"
"You're going to keep this book around the house for a long time. You're going to devour it. You're going to keep going back to it five years, 10, 20, 30 years in the future as you sit with kids and grandkids and tell them about the people who ran across a stretch of green grass in the Bronx."
- - LEIGH MONTVILLE, "The Big Bam"
"A stunning collection of oral history and narrative and great photos."
NEW YORK ONE
"I feel very fortunate that I experienced the mystique of playing in Yankee Stadium. There is no other stadium that had that aura. And Harvey Frommer captures it all in this terrific book."
-- NOLAN RYAN
"When you're a kid growing up in the Bronx in the 40's, a visit to Yankee Stadium is something you never forget. It was a thrill then and now all these years later, it means even more to me. In this terrific book, Harvey Frommer brings it all back again."
"As a Red Sox fan living behind enemy lines, this one's kind of hard to take: a lively, colorful, altogether winning illustrated biography of the House Our Former Pitcher Built. The pictures take you through the portals, and the voices of fans and players bring the place alive. The Stadium is preserved for eternity in Harvey Frommer's wonderful book."
ROBERT SULLIVAN, "Our Red Sox: A Story of Family, Friends & Fenway"
"Outstanding performance"- ROGER KAHN
"Another instant classic from Baseball's greatest author, Harvey Frommer"
– SETH SWIRSKY, "Baseball Letters"
Those desiring a more comprehensive and thorough approach to the history of the Yankees in Yankee Stadium will prefer Harvey Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House that Ruth Built (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Frommer tells the story decade by decade and intersperses his authoritative text with sidebar rememberances from numerous players, writers, broadcasters, and fans. It boasts a wonderful selection of photographs (both b & w and color) in its horizontal format and splashes things up with images of old Yankees baseball cards, ticket stubs, artifacts, and programs. Marvelous encapsulations of the glorious deeds that transpired on the hallowed grounds inhabited by the most famous baseball team in the world, and they will be enjoyed by all who love the game, not just by Yankees fans.
-- Spitball Magazine
"Yankee Stadium may have been forced into a premature funeral two weeks ago, with its longtime tenants missing the postseason for the first time since 1993. But while many superficial tributes riding the pinstripe-powered wave of nostalgia have surfaced over the past couple of weeks, this pair of books proves much more rewarding than the dozens of other capitalizations on the landmark's passing.
"The opening pages of Harvey Frommer's hefty Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of "The House That Ruth Built" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45, 239 pages) feature almost-claustrophobic images of Don Larsen, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris and Mariano Rivera, managing to immerse the reader in the Stadium environs before they've even reached the table of contents. These photos set the stage for an 85-year journey the staunchest Red Sox fan could appreciate. That's because Frommer, a Dartmouth professor and oral historian who's written 40 books, doesn't make the mistake of celebrating the history of the Yankees exclusively. Sure, the decade-by-decade narrative and first-person reminiscences may center around the baseball team and venue namesake. But Frommer's grounded prose and obvious appreciation for baseball beyond the Bronx makes this tribute palatable for even the most hardened Yankee hater."-- Sports Illustrated
"In this, the last year of Yankee Stadium's storied existence, Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium becomes an essential keepsake for wise fans who know that newer isn't always better."
TIME OUT NEW YORK
Plenty (almost too many) books have been written about Yankee Stadium, but if you're looking for a fresh one for the Yankee fan on your Christmas list, try "Remembering Yankee Stadium" by Harvey Frommer (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45).It's chock full of greast color photos and remembrances, decade-by-decade.
-- TownTimesNews.com, Connecticut
"A handsome new book, compiled by Harvey Frommer and titled REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT. A decade-by-decade chronicle of Yankee Stadium, is crammed with reminiscences by players and fans, not to mention factoids and stadium firsts. And it is loaded with photos, not just of famed Yankee ballplayers but of Yankee fans, Yankee programs, ticket stubs, buttons, and shots of the ball yard from every which angle."
- -WAMC (Northeast) Public Radio
"One to show off. An absolute classic. Much better than all the other Yankee Stadium books. Fantastic. REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM is the bible."
"This is the best one on Yankee Stadium. It is a great book in so many ways."
- - -XM RADIO, Left Jab
"Really want to surprise Dad? Buy him tickets to catch one last game in the legendary stadium, and tuck them into a copy of "Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History" ($45, Stewart, Tabri and Chang) by Harvey Frommer, with foreword by legendary Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard. The book offers a decade-by-decade look at the most famous ballpark in the world."-- courierpostonline.com, South Jersey
"Great. Glorious oral history, tremendous photographs."
Best Gift Book, Chicago Sun Times: REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM - An Oral and Narrative History of 'The House That Ruth Built', By Harvey Frommer
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 240 pages, $45
For those whose baseball universe extends only as far west as the Hudson River, Remembering Yankee Stadium is a must-read coffee table book. But for those who grew up resenting the Bronx Bombers' media overexposure, unfair economic advantages and yes, their success, it's just one more reason to dislike the pinstripe-clad millionaires and their smug fans.
Penned by Harvey Frommer, who has written 40 sports books, this straightforward, decade-by-decade chronology of the House That Ruth Built traces the almost constantly ascending fortunes of America's winningest pro sports franchise.
The ballpark, which opened in 1923 (the Bambino hit the first home run on opening day), was not only the site of some of baseball's most historic moments, but also played host to countless classic fights, football games and other great events -- none of which is mentioned in this book if it doesn't pertain specifically to the Yankees.
Frommer has compiled an oral history that goes beyond the usual suspects, interviewing batting practice pitchers, equipment managers, announcers and many others with unique perspectives on the team.
The steady, methodical presentation is predictably boosterish, despite a few dissenters like '60s Yankees ace Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four. Bouton gets his two cents in about the new $1 billion-plus Yankee Stadium that opens in 2009 next door to the shrine. There's something obscene, as Bouton points out, in spending hundreds of millions in public funds for a monument to private greed amid the squalor of the South Bronx.
Book Alert / Remembering Yankee Stadium
Remembering Yankee Stadium -- An Oral and Narrative History of the House that Ruth Built -- 1923-2008 --by Harvey Frommer, foreward by Bob Sheppard, Stewart Tabori & Chang '08, coffee table format, $45, 224 pages, printed on glossy stock with scores of color and b&w images, ISBN #1584797169. Index, stadiumology.
I've been wrestling with this question for more than an hour -- maybe you can help me with it. There's no question that any serious baseball fan should buy this book, but it's not the kind of book you stuff under the Christmas wrapping paper and pick up in mid-February. No, it needs to be perused on the day of the gift, hopefully by 3 or maybe 4 generations of fanatics. Maybe give it on Thanksgiving?
Harvey Frommer, who has written 40 years books on various sports, now says goodbye to Yankee Stadium in the flashiest way. In this lavish, photo-centric work, he strums the memories of fans in a panorama stretching from Jacob Ruppert to Mariano Rivera. What could I possibly care about this book? ask Red Sox fans. Be forewarned -- the cast of characters includes such folks as Dennis Eckersley, Dewey Evans, Bill Lee, and Mel Parnell. You want to make sure a Yankee fan doesn't slander one of your own.
Not to say this is a picture book -- it isn't. Frommer wants to give you enough narrative for Red Sox fans to foam at the mouth but also to honor such undeniable greats as Lou Gehrig. Here are some of the Yankee Stadium memories he chronicles:
Babe Ruth's 1919 purchase from the Red Sox and his historic first home run in 1923 in the new Yankee Stadium; Joe DiMaggio's 1941 iconic consecutive game hitting record of 56; Roger Maris's breaking of Ruth's home run record in 1961; Reggie Jackson's three home runs in a row in the 1977 World Series; and the 2006 groundbreaking for the new Yankee Stadium.
See you next April, across the street.
Now booking speaking appearances, book store signings, interviews, displays, museum exhibits, excerpts, internet postings, pod casts, reviews, publicity and marketing ops for the book.
This is the only book with a foreword by Bob Sheppard, Yankee legendary public address announcer.
It mixes and matches voices from as far back as the 1920s to today providing the perspective of the rank and file who give the nitty gritty that the you won’t find from heavier names, those who will say over and over again: “When I stepped out onto the Stadium . . .”
Instead, nearly one hundred voices give the book a sense of place and time and people. There are Hall of Famers, bat boys, fans, vendors, famed broadcasters and authors, Yankee players and managers as well as their rivals, and long-time observers of the Stadium scene. There are game calls from legends like Mel Allen, Frank Messer, Phil Rizzuto, Michael Kay.
There is the smell of mustard and the smell of jockstraps, the feel of being crushed, eight deep on the downtown D train after a game. And a sense of place you won’t find in any “official” history enhanced by more than 200 images, many of them archival and many never before published in a book. There are ticket stubs, baseball cards, program covers, scorecards. And there is a large “Stadiumology” section with stats and facts, first and lasts.
I learned many things about Yankee Stadium through writing this book. Here are 23 of them:
1. Some wanted the brand new Yankee Stadium in 1923 to be called “Ruth Stadium.” They settled for the nick-name “the House That Ruth Built.”
2. It took 500 workers 185 days to build the original Yankee Stadium.
3. At the start, names of Yankee players were imprinted in white chalk near the top of their lockers.
4. The practice of selling more tickets than existing seats endured until a 1929 stampede in the right field bleachers left two dead, 62 injured.
5. Negro League teams who played at the Stadium when the Yanks were on the road were not allowed to use the Yankee dressing rooms. Instead they were obliged to use the visitors’ dressing room.
6. “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” was staged before 61,808 on July 4, 1939 and his uniform number 4 was the first in baseball history to be retired.
7. In 1941, Yankee president Ed Barrow offered Civil Defense the use of Yankee Stadium as a bomb shelter in case of attack. He thought the area under the stands could provide a safe haven.
8. On August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53. His body lay in state at Yankee Stadium and was viewed by more than 100,000 fans.
9. The last home run at the original Yankee Stadium on September 30, 1973 was hit by Duke Sims in his seventh day as a Yankee. A coin toss that day tabbed him to play. It was not until much later that Sims realized the significance of his home run shot.
10. The film “61″ was filmed in Detroit, not at Yankee Stadium. Billy Crystal explained the Motor City ballpark architecture was better able to be made to resemble that of the Yankee Stadium of 1961.
11.Sal Durante, the guy who caught the ball Roger Maris hit for his 61st homer, bought tickets the day of the game at a less-than-sold- out Yankee Stadium.
12. Mickey Mantle originally wore Number 6, but equipment manager Pete Sheehy switched him to Number 7 after Mantle was recalled from Kansas City.
13. Twenty thousand letters that Mickey Mantle never answered were not bid on in the old Yankee Stadium fire sale in 1974.
14. There was widespread and indiscriminate disposal of valuable items during demolition of much of the Stadium in the mid 1970s.
15. Among the items sold in the refurbishment “fire sale” at Yankee Stadium were player jockstraps which had names on them for identification when they came back from the laundry. The selling was stopped because of sanitary reasons.
16. In 1976, a homer by Chris Chambliss gave the Yankees the American League pennant. Such a mob crowded the plate that Chambliss was taken back a few minutes after hitting the homer, and he finally touched home plate.
17. All kinds of crazy things went on in the bullpens - some of them outlandish and some of them sexy and lots having to do with food.
18. In 1988, behind a wall that was closed off for decades, a scorecard, a program and what was supposedly the bases for the 1936 team were unearthed.
19. The 1990 Yankees had but one starting pitcher who won more than seven games, nine-game winner Tim Leary. But he also lost 19.
20. On September 11, 2001 within 90 minutes of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, Yankee Stadium was evacuated.
21. Ron Guidry, a good drummer, once kept a trap set at Yankee Stadium and also played in a post-game concert with the Beach Boys.
22. Joe Torre was witness to all three perfect games in Yankee Stadium history: He saw Don Larsen’s beauty as a 16-year-old fan, and the gems spun by David Wells and David Cone from the dugout as Yankee manager.
23. Bob Sheppard holds the record for seeing the most games at Yankee Stadium.
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“Harvey Frommer brings a vast amount of experience in the art of the oral history, one of the many tools at the disposal of the historian. From his Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball to Red Sox-Yankees The Great Rivalry, Frommer shows that he is a baseball writer and historian of repute.” -SABR executive director John Zajc.
“First among equals is Harvey Frommer, with his wife Myrna Katz Frommer, a great expert on all things baseball and New York (and that city within a city,) Brooklyn” - John Thorn, Baseball Historian
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