28 September 2008

Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built, 1923-2008, by Harvey Frommer

Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built, 1923-2008, by Harvey Frommer

Harvey Frommer has outdone himself this time.

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, and it's this one:

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.

15 September 2008

Things to Know and Things to Do

Observations from an insider
by LB Valentino

Boston Red Sox tickets are probably the most popular baseball tickets in demand this season. This Beantown team has had a loyal following since they began playing in the early 20th Century and their millions of fans are always the first in line at the box office and on the Internet.

But fear not, you can always get a great selection of tickets for all sports, concerts and theater events at www.tickets3D.com. They have exclusive 3D venue maps that let you see a view from your seat and buy your tickets at the same time ' all in under a minute. Don't be fooled by imitators. You can also pick your own price and search for tickets by city, artist, team or venue. It's the best place to buy tickets on the web!

New York Yankees tickets are also in high demand from fans across the nation. This legendary team is probably one of the most high-profile, popular teams in the history of the sport. From Babe Ruth to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have been thrilling fans since 1901 with their spectacular feats of athletic prowess and their personalities.

As far as East Coast teams go, Chicago Cubs tickets are another hot commodity all year 'round. When they play on their home turf, at Wrigley Field, the stands are jam-packed with fans; and when they're on the road their fans are right behind! They are known as bounce-back kings, having been down-and-out early in their seasons only to come back and show everyone what tenacity really means. With some of the greatest players in the league, they never disappoint.

There's no shortage of excitement on the West Coast either. Los Angeles Angels tickets are always a great way to bond with your buddies or your girls. There's no place better to see baseball live than underneath the California sun ' so close to the Pacific Ocean that you can smell the sea air. Palm trees, sports and fun in the sun ' it doesn't get better than that.

Take a short drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway and you'll find one of the most legendary cities in the world, Los Angeles. From Hollywood and the Sunset Strip to the celebrity residences of Malibu, there's no shortage of LA attractions to pique your interest. World famous restaurants and museums are just the tip of the iceberg. LA has fantastic theme parks that are fun for the whole family, and some of the best shopping on the planet. So make sure to bring your sunglasses for all the glitz and glamour ' and feel free to stay awhile.

On the outskirts of Los Angeles is the place that created the phrase, 'valley girl.' Of course there are plenty of other things to do in the San Fernando Valley besides stand around talking like a teenage girl. You may want to check out their exciting nightlife and club scene, which includes hotspots in Studio City and Burbank ' cities that are also magnets for Hollywood movie types.

If you're in the mood for a drive through the desert, you'll find plenty of things to do in Las Vegas, Nevada. Just a 5-hour drive from the City of Angels, Las Vegas may not exactly be considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, but it has electricity that can be felt all through the Rockies. Spectacular casinos, shows, restaurants, clubs and the pulse of a million heartbeats make this a popular spot any season of the year.

But if you like something a little earthier than bright lights and the big city, there are plenty of things to do in Seattle, Washington. Seattle may be known for its rainy weather, but it's also well-known for its hospitality and as the birthplace of the grunge music scene. It's also the birthplace of perhaps the world's most famous coffeehouses, Starbucks. From music to fishing to coffee and major sports teams and concerts, Seattle offers a wide variety of fun for the whole family.