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Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame Paperback – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 Reprint edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608192105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608192106
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,787 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Customer Reviews

This book ought to be required reading for HoF-eligible voters.
Bill C. Helm
It's a bit of a mess, with little half stories about Latinos and steroids, CITGO (and Hugo Chavez) sponsoring a Latinos in baseball exhibit, etc.
C. P. Anderson
Marvin Miller and salaries, my personal feeling is that athletes make way too much.
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Todd Bartholomew TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Most casual fans of baseball know little about how the Baseball Hall of Fame came into existence and fewer still have any idea of the machinations and politics involved when it comes to inducting members into the Hall of Fame. "Cooperstown Confidential" seeks to explain the politics of Cooperstown, particularly some of the more unseemly conflicts over who gets in, who is kept out and why. The picture Chafets paints is not an entirely complimentary one and it puts many of the people associated with Cooperstown in an unflattering light. Rather than being viewed as guardians of baseball's rich legacy they're portrayed as scheming Machiavellis, zealously ensuring that baseball is presented in the most favorable light, truth be damned. This is rich stuff to be mined, from the notoriously vague criteria for admission to the Hall of Fame, to the deliberately non-transparent voting process, the notable omissions from the Hall and the equally questionable admissions. Readers will find themselves asking "Just whose idea of baseball is this?" The problem unfortunately is compounded by Chafets's obvious lack of objectivity throughout the book. It's clearly a polemic and Chafets wants Cooperstown to reform for the sake of baseball's future, if not to redeem its past. But Chafets's bias has other manifestations, particularly when it comes to the subject of the use of "performance enhancing drugs" which has become endemic in baseball. Chafets is part of the minority of sports writers that feels performance enhancing drugs have gotten a bum wrap and to that end he sounds more like an apologist than a true fan of the sport. At times his anger at the management of Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame process smacks of Chafets being a conspiracy theorist and it comes close at times to histrionics.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about the Baseball Hall Of Fame (HOF) at Cooperstown New York... but the story starts off before the HOF even existed. In fact it starts off before baseball even existed. And right from the beginning the reader will become aware that the author's main objective... is to either dispute everything that an average baseball fan has come to accept... or share his personal beliefs of disagreement... and/or deep seated conspiracy theories... in relation to every player in the HOF... every player out of the HOF... and players that are in the HOF... but in his opinion... should be out of the HOF. From who really invented baseball... to who should vote for the players that will be enshrined... to his strongly stated... and unsettling views on performance enhancing drugs... as they relate not only to HOF enshrinement... but how they should be handled in perpetuity. The author attacks the baseball writers who vote... he attacks all the different incarnations of the veterans committee who voted in old-timers... he assaults the HOF when he feels there weren't enough black players voted in... and he attacks the HOF when he feels too many black players were voted in simultaneously. He continually quotes scorned players such as Dave Parker as if every word out of his mouth is gospel.

At times the author gives only part of the details such as when he demeans the fact that Jim Bunning is in the HOF and Mickey Lolich isn't. The author writes: "BUNNING PITCHED A NO-HIT GAME, BUT LOLICH WON 3 GAMES IN A WORLD SERIES, A MUCH RARER AND MORE IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENT." That statement is only partially true. JIM BUNNING ACTUALLY PITCHED *TWO-NO-HITTERS*... ONE IN *EACH LEAGUE*... ONLY FIVE PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL HAS EVER DONE THAT.
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