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What Might Have Been

Mark Armour has a nifty piece over at The Baseball Analysts about the Yankees first free agent draft. It’s a must-read for Yankee fans, who may or may not know that Reggie Jackson was not the Yankees first–or second or third–cherce in 1977. Armour details what went down and asks, what would have happened if the Yankees had gotten their man, Bobby Grich? Who knows if they would have won two straight World Serious’? Oscar Gamble would have never left, Bucky Dent would have never been a Yankee, Billy Martin may have slept a bit better at night, and the Yankee clubhouse would have been a more harmonious–and for the sportswriters, dull–place. Without Reggie, there would have been no Bronx Zoo, and, who knows, maybe Grich would have eventually made the Hall of Fame.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 3, 2005 5:55 am

1.  For more on this, you guys should read Ed Linn's "Steinbrenner's Yankees." http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=neyer_rob&id=1513646

2 NetShrine   ~  Jun 3, 2005 6:59 am

2.  Ditto on Linn's book.
Also, Dick Lally's "Pinstriped Summers" is a good read as well.

3 Don Fiedler   ~  Jun 3, 2005 7:43 am

3.  Hey Alex,

I was wondering if you guys could post a top-ten list of yankees (or baseball in general) books. With summer coming up, I like nothing more than chilling on the beach with a good baseball book. Since you guys are far more literate (literary?) than me, I'd love to see a list...and i'm sure others would too. Maybe you could have a running list in the "suggested reading" box at right. Just a thought.

4 Fuller R   ~  Jun 3, 2005 8:42 am

4.  Ed Linn also wrote "The Yankees- The Championship Year" or something like that. It was published right after the '77 World Series and is EXCELLENT. There are a couple of chapters dedicated to the off-season before the '77 season. It is my favorite baseball book, bar none.

By the way, the boss ALWAYS wanted Reggie. His "baseball people" wanted Grich.

5 Ace Cowboy   ~  Jun 3, 2005 10:50 am

5.  I think Oscar Gamble could have shouldered a championship season in 77. No question.

6 monkeypants   ~  Jun 3, 2005 11:19 am

6.  I think Oscar Gamble would be an improvement for DH in 2005. Is he younger than Sierra?

7 alsep73   ~  Jun 3, 2005 12:06 pm

7.  I'm fond of three books about the Reggie/Billy championship teams: The Bronx Zoo (by Sparky Lyle), The Best Team Money Can Buy (by one of the team's beat writers at the time) and Roger Kahn's more recent October Men. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, which Alex pointed me to earlier this season, is a lot of fun, too, but most of the Yankee material duplicates stuff from those other three books; I enjoyed it most for its look at the rest of NYC in the summer of Sam.

David Halberstam wrote a couple of Yankee books: Summer of '49 (the down-to-the-wire battle between DiMaggio's Yanks and Williams' Sox) and October '64 (the aging, lily white Mantle Yanks vs. the speedy, young and black Cardinals of Lou Brock and Bob Gibson). Halberstam has a tendency to incorporate every single fact he learned in the course of his research, so the thoroughness will either delight you or make your eyes glaze over.

Most of my favorite baseball books have little to no Yankee content, though Ball Four at least briefly touches on Jim Bouton's days with the team, and it's hysterical.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 3, 2005 12:43 pm

8.  Fuller, you know what, Linn might have written about the Grich thing in much more detail in the book you mentioned. I get them confused.

My dad was and is a classic-Yankee hater, but I remember one of his friends giving him "The Bronx Zoo" when it was in hardcover. First book I ever read with swears. And boy, was their plenty of them.

9 NetShrine   ~  Jun 3, 2005 1:45 pm

9.  As a young teenager, I read "Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud" by Joe Pepitone.

Lots of dirty stuff in that one, or so it seemed to me as a kid.

10 alsep73   ~  Jun 3, 2005 2:20 pm

10.  Oh, one I forgot: "Damned Yankees," by former Yankee beat writers Moss Klein and Bill Madden, dealing with all the lowlights of the teams from the late '70s through the Dallas Green season. These guys were eyewitness to a lot of bad stuff, and you get the sense (at least from Klein) that after a while of writing juicy stories about barroom brawls, they started to wish they could go back to covering baseball again.

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