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Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While many baseball fans likely have a casual knowledge of the subjects Rosengren explores in his latest effort, the depths to which the author travels gives new insight into the 1973 baseball season. Rosengren follows the season chronologically from opening day to the Oakland Athletics' dramatic victory in the World Series, and while he discusses the issues that shaped the game, such as the advent of the designated hitter, more time is given to the personalities of the era. Plenty of fans can tell you that Willie Mays hit 660 career home runs, but Rosengren portrays a different side of the man whose arms and knees ached every time he set foot on the ball field. Rosengren also analyzes the Athletics, notorious for superstar Reggie Jackson but also Charlie Finley, an owner "famous for his megalomania." And as for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Rosengren shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The author's style is overexplanatory at times, and excessively breezy at others. However, the book is exhaustively researched, and for baseball fans not alive in 1973, an enjoyable history lesson. (Apr.)
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About the Author

John Rosengren is an award-winning journalist and author. He has written five other books, including Blades of Glory: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win. His articles have appeared in more than a hundred publications, ranging from Sports Illustrated to Reader's Digest. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. A lifelong Twins fan, John lives in Minneapolis with his wife and their two children.

Visit him at www.johnorosengren.net
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402209568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402209567
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,842,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Rosengren is an award-winning author of eight books. A freelance writer since 1981, he has written articles for more than 100 publications ranging from Reader's Digest to Sports Illustrated. He's a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Biographers International Organization, and the Society for American Baseball Research. He earned his master's degree in creative writing at Boston University, where he studied with Saul Bellow and Derek Walcott. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and their two children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've always been fascinated with the 1973 baseball season, mostly because I was born hours after the conclusion of Game 2 of the World Series. I've been a Mets fan most of my life and always found it darkly funny that I was born during a year they lost the Series.

There have been a run of books in the past several years by authors celebrating individual baseball seasons: 1964 and 1949 (David Halberstam), 1975 and 1966 (Tom Adelman), 1908 (Cait Murphy); each one has a hook about what makes that year special. John Rosengren's concept for 1973 is that it's a transition year for baseball, a year of firsts and lasts: the first year of the designated hitter, and the first year of George Steinbrenner's ownership of the Yankees; the last year of Willie Mays' career and the first year of Reggie Jackson's superstardom. It was also the year Hank Aaron did not break Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, but any book with Aaron on the cover is likely to do well this year, thanks to Barry Bonds-inspired backlash.

"Hammerin' Hank" is an easy read, as chapters alternate between the book's five principal characters: Willie, Reggie, Hank, George, and Orlando Cepeda (the first great DH in his last great season). Interesting that all the players involved are minorities: three essentially winding up their careers, and one just beginning. Much attention is paid to the AL West and NL East division races, all three playoff series and the All-Star game. As with
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Format: Paperback
The research that obviously went into this book would earn the
admiration of any historian, but it's the vivid, engaging writing that makes "Hammerin Hank..." such an appealing read. For fans who remember the 1973 season, and those who weren't even born yet, this book paints a picture with details and a story that live up to the title's hype. The effects of many of the events from that season are still being felt today.

This was the year that George Steinbrenner took over the Yankees, and 35 years later the Boss, and now his son, continue to loom over the game. In the book, we read the type of Steinbrenner tale - him demanding that three Yankees get haircuts - that made him such an easy target, yet Rosengren also shows the lengths he'd go to to make the Yankees a winner, no matter the cost.

The DH went into effect in '73, and years before chicks dug the long ball, Rosengren shows how Oakland owner Charlie Finley pushed for more offense in the game, believing it would bring fans back. The DH rule led Carl Yazstremski to say, "It's legalized manslaughter," because pitchers no longer had to worry about suffering the consequences if they beaned an opposing hitter.

1973 was Willie Mays's final season. Today, whenever an older athlete struggles, it's almost become cliche to say that he should retire because we don't want to see him "stumbling around like Willie Mays." Rosengren details exactly what happened to the baseball legend, and how he struggled through his final days on the field.

The book tells the big stories, as well as the memorable smaller ones - like Gaylord Perry's spitball-throwing antics, and the tale of the two pitchers who switched lives, including wives.
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Format: Paperback
There is a vividness to the memories of when a boy (or maybe a child) first becomes a baseball fan. The players, the managers, the owners all seem larger than life. In the the 1973 baseball season, it was all for good reason. The personalities, in many ways, were larger than life.

The Oakland A's, and there mercurial owner, Charlie O. Finley dominated the landscape in many ways. Finley, with his out of the box thinking, his boorish behavior and his control tendencies. But also, the team, which had future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, as well as many perennial all-stars, like Bert Campaneris, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace and Joe Rudi. They had colorful stars like Vida Blue and Blue Moon Odom rounding out a mini-dynasty.

But the season offered contrasts, and the sad diminishment of Willie Mays, one of the five greatest players in baseball history, was a huge one. Brought back to a city that loved him, but a manager, in Yogi Berra, who really did not want him, his level of performance was that of a journeyman. The World Series ended with Mays sitting on the bench, being bypassed as the Mets were down to their final out, for another journeyman.

The other big story of the season was the onset of the Designated Hitter. The author focuses on the requiem for Orlando Cepeda, yet it was a huge change for the game of baseball.

George Steinbrenner took over the Yankees, and for better or worse, baseball was changed forever.

The feature entree, however, was Hank Aaron's pursuit of the most hallowed of baseball's records. In this season, as Aaron sped toward history, he endured pressures and hatreds which were still very open in 1973. His was a very lonely journey, yet led with heroic dignity.

For the most part, a very well written chronicle of a bellweather time in our National Sport.
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