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Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame Hardcover – June 9, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First US Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915459
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cooperstown is a sleepy New York village with a population barely eclipsing 2,000, in a location where if you arrive by mistake, you've been lost for forty-five minutes. But Chafets explains why Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see destination for hundreds of thousands of baseball fans each year, diving into more than just the 200-plus players that have received baseball immortality by induction into the Hall of Fame. Chafets (A Match Made in Heaven) briefly explores the history of how the Hall of Fame came to pass, but the real good stuff comes as he dives into the politics of the museum and how race has played a role in who has received election and who has received the shaft. He looks at the monks who oversee the hallowed halls, the writers who act as gatekeepers to the Hall of Fame, and explains how election can make what was once a player's worthless memorabilia into a gold mine. Much of Chafets's subject matter is sure to strike a chord with baseball fans, and many will surely disagree with his stance on steroids as it relates to a player's induction. The relationships he develops with the Hall staff, combined with his accessible style, gives the reader a glimpse beyond what one might see at the exhibits. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Chafets brings both a fan’s affection and a social critic’s eye to his examination of the Cooperstown, N.Y. institution...amusing, sardonic and convincing." —Kirkus
 
"Chafets briefly explores the history of how the Hall of Fame came to pass, but the real good stuff comes as he dives into the politics of the museum and how race has played a role in who has received election and who has received the shaft. He looks at the “monks” who oversee the hallowed halls, the writers who act as gatekeepers to the Hall of Fame, and explains how election can make what was once a player's worthless memorabilia into a gold mine. Much of Chafets's subject matter is sure to strike a chord with baseball fans…  gives the reader a glimpse beyond what one might see at the exhibits.”  —Publishers Weekly
 
"The Baseball Hall of Fame has long been viewed as some sort of pristine baseball palace, a hardball Mecca where the ghosts of greats walk the corridors. In Cooperstown Confidential, Zev Chafets does not merely humanize the Hall and its inhabitants—he paints a fascinating, in-depth, occasionally outlandish portrait to be hung alongside the busts of the Babe and Hammerin' Hank. Chafets knocks this one over the Green Monster."  —Jeff Pearlman, author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won
 
"Put in a couple of dead bodies, an inquisitive professor who looks a lot like Tom Hanks and maybe a car chase or two and Zev Chafets would have sports' answer to The DaVinci Code. Oh well -- we'll have to settle for a literate and provocative climb through the cobwebs, misconceptions and flat-out prejudices that exist behind the shiny exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nice work. Maybe Tom Hanks can play Zev Chafets in the movie."  —Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth
 
"Red Smith suggested blowing up the Hall of Fame and starting over, and Zev Chafets has planted the bomb. This smart, tough, funny history uses the flawed temple of the game as a prism to examine the nation as well as its pastime - sex, steroids, stats, and all." —Robert Lipsyte, author of Heroes of Baseball
 
The story of the Hall is baseball and politics, lust for fame and gain, ridiculous ballyhoo and deadly serious business. Somehow, Zev Chafets got it all -- and told it with toughness, humor, and grace."  —
Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life
 
"Cooperstown Confidential is not the standard collection of rosy ancedotes about Hall of Fame baseball players. It is a fascinatingly hard-edged look inside the hallowed institution, and that makes it all the more delightful and revealing." —David Maraniss, author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered 

More About the Author

Zev Chafets is the author of eleven books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and a former columnist for the New York Daily News.

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Customer Reviews

The problem unfortunately is compounded by Chafets's obvious lack of objectivity throughout the book.
Todd Bartholomew
What they did say was that it might make great players greater or lengthen their careers because it helped them heal faster.
Grey Wolffe
He doesn't think that the use of steroids or performance enhancing drugs are necessarily bad for baseball.
Michael L. Slavin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on July 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rule Five in the charter determining who gets elected to the baseball Hall of Fame states, "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." Zev Chafets, a former sports columnist for the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, would like to see Rule Five eliminated, making room for such players as Peter Rose, Barry Bonds, and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Chafets bases his argument on some of the characters already in the Hall who don't meet Rule Five standards. Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker conspired to fix a game and Judge Landis helped with the cover-up. Speaker was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched while drunk and there are several cocaine addicts in the Hall. Sports writer Red Smith recommended they blow the Hall up and start over again.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the book is the first section, where Chafets is less belligerent. He shows how the Hall of Fame came to be. Cooperstown was supposed to be the place where Abner Doubleday originated the game. This proved to be a flight of the imagination of Al Spaulding one of the first great players in the National League and an owner of the Cubs. Cooperstown was also founded by James Fenimore Cooper's father and was home to the Clark family whose forefather was a lawyer for Isaac Singer, the inventor of the sewing machine. The Clarks still own most of Cooperstown and run the HOF.

While he's not ranting about steroids, Chafets talks to some of the members of the veterans of the women's baseball league who are sitting in the lobby signing autographs for five bucks a pop.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stamper VINE VOICE on July 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Zev Chafets has written a witty and flowing history of the Baseball Hall of Fame, bringing to the surface the election process and inconsistencies that I had never read about anywhere else. The book alternates between being anecdotal as he discusses the HOF with Goose Gossage or Steve Garvey to analytical when he discusses the politics that have enshrined some very marginal players and ignored some worthy stars.

Chafets biggest concern with the Hall seems to be the morality clause inserted into the language that is so nebulous that Ty Cobb can be a member, but Pete Rose cannot. This especially irks Chafets when good evidence suggests Cobb actually threw a ballgame for money, something no one accused Rose of doing.

I didn't start disagreeing with Chafets until the second half of the book when he endorsed Marvin Miller for the Hall of Fame, and more importantly, used moral relativism to equate steroid use to alcohol addiction or pep pills.

If I were a pro ballplayer I might not mind that Marvin Miller held baseball hostage through several seasons. As a fan it led to higher ticket prices, frenzied player movement, players who no longer identified with fans, strikes, lost seasons, and performance enhancing drugs to chase the bigger money. Miller's influence can be connected with most of what I don't like about today's game.

I think Chafets make a good point that it's hard to identify every dirty player in the steroids era, but he goes a little too far when he says the HOF shouldn't penalize the known cheaters. I say let the cheaters sleep on their beds of money and wonder if selling themselves was worth the price of exclusion. Unless they learn a way to drive two sports cars at once they may realize that the extra money wasn't worth the banishment.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Pruette VINE VOICE on August 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When Mr. Chafet's book first came to my attention, I was particularly intrigued by the subtitle of "Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame." I thought this would be an opportunity to learn more about the inside workings of the Hall and read some juicy stories. However, things did not work out as well as I had hoped. I would describe myself as an ex-baseball fan. I played the game seriously through high school and always loved it. Now I find that I rarely watch it on TV, and I stay somewhat familiar with the season as it goes along.

Cooperstown Confidential does a good job of giving the history of the Hall of Fame but really does not do much towards helping those of us who have never been there get a clearer picture of what the Hall is really like. Much of the history in the book covered things I had read before, and the description of the town of Cooperstown seemed familiar. Mr. Chaftets covers the expected ground of Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe, Abner Doubleday, Pete Rose, etc., but I was hoping for more insight.

As I progressed through the book, I felt that the author was taking more and more of a personal stand on various issues and was attempting to prove his points. He spends a great deal of time on Rule Five of the Hall's charter, i.e., the criteria for determining who is eligible for election. He clearly believes that the criteria of integrity should not be a determining factor and recommends that Rule Five be eliminated entirely, thus opening the door for Pete Rose and others. He also spends a lot of time on the question of steroids. Should known steroid users be eligible for admittance to the Hall? Mr. Chafets believes that they should be.
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