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Mel Ott: The Little Giant of Baseball Paperback – April 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0786406586 ISBN-10: 0786406585 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; First Edition edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786406585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786406586
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,052,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mel Ott hit 511 home runs for the New York Giants between 1926 and 1947, and he managed the Giants from 1942 through 1948. What makes his story of interest today, however, is the way it captures baseball in a very different era: before and during World War II. Stein evokes the period nostalgically but accurately: a time when fans followed the game on the radio and when the press, given to hyperbole, created archetypes out of star athletes. Ott was the nice guy, the 17-year-old from Gretna, Louisiana, who impressed hard-bitten Giants manager John McGraw with his sweet stroke and odd stance (right leg lifted off the ground). And yet, as Stein recounts, Ott's very niceness led to the inevitable rap of being not tough enough, and when he was replaced as manager by the fiery Leo Durocher ("Nice guys finish last"), the nice guy had come full circle. The best baseball myths always carry a bittersweet tang, and this first biography of Mel Ott passes that taste test with ease. Leon Wagner

Review

"a first-time biography tracks Ott's start as a peewee 17-year-old NY Giants rookie in 1925, three-time pennant-enabler, team manager until 1948, record-breaking home run statistics, and early death" -- Reference & Research Book News

"here's the full story of one of the best-and nicest guys to play the sport" -- USA Today Baseball Weekly

"the author, a retired federal official who has written three books on the New York Giants, turns his attention to one of that team's greatest figures, Mel Ott" --Library Journal

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I initially ordered this book because I wanted to learn more about the life and times of a hall-of-famer whose mono-syllabic name appeared so often in baseball's record books. But I came away with a great appreciation for baseball in far simpler times. The author's love and affection for his boyhood hero and his undying devotion to our national pasttime leaps from the pages.
A must read for anyone who loves baseball and heroes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book really showed me how good Mel was as a player and as a person. He was my great uncle, and although I never got to meet him (since he died before I was born), this book provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about him and how he lived his life. I recommend this book to any Mel Ott enthusiast or just about anybody who likes baseball, as it tells about one of baseball's best players and best people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Winslow Bunny on April 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mel Ott, in this day and age, seems to be a forgotten superstar. I think there are a number of reasons for this: the team he played for moved from its home of more than 70 years, from the place Ott played to a city across the country, where it developed its own heroes; he died at much too young an age, he was never a controversial figure in baseball, and the records he set, especially the league records, were largely eclipsed - a normal happening over time - by someone who played on the same team that he did, so he didn't even get to own the team records that he set.

Thus, Fred Stein has done us all a favor by writing this book to remind us of the talent of Mel Ott, and of the temperment, sportsmanship and manners of the man. He traces Ott's life from his roots in Louisiana up to New York City, the development of his talent, the foresight of John McGraw to educate and protect him from anyone who would change his batting style, through his many years of stardom and his managerial efforts. There was not much of the book devoted to after he was released as manager of the Giants, such as his work on the farm system or his time as a Tigers broadcaster, but in the big picture of Ott's life, these are only footnotes to the greatness of his career.

One other item that did bother me: at the end of the book, the author interviews a writer who, in the course of his work, interviewed Carl Hubbell and found him to be "dull," and had the opportunity to sit at the same table with Dizzy Dean, Frank Frisch and Rogers Hornsby, whom he described as a "boor," a "chatterbox," and "mean," I believe the descriptions were.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Author Fred Stein has provided us with a well written biography about Mel Ott, one of the greatest players in the storied history of the New York Giants baseball team. Milton Shapiro wrote a biography of Ott in 1959 on a more juvenile level and it was long overdue for another more detailed biography of Master Melvin. Ott arrived at the Polo Grounds in the mid 1920's for a tryout on the recommendation of Harry Williams, a friend of Giants' manager John McGraw. McGraw didn't want anyone tampering with Ott's batting stance in the minor leagues and wanted to keep a close watch on the young teen ager. After gradually breaking Ott into the lineup and with the added confidence, Ott became one of the most popular players ever to play with the Giants. The book covers the story of Bill Terry's succeeding McGraw as Giants' manager as well as Ott's career as Terry's successor at the helm. It may be true that Ott didn't have the disposition to be a manager. When he acted up over an umpire's decision, his ranting just didn't appear to be real. I read with great surprise that Ott didn't attend his Hall of Fame induction at Cooperstown in 1951 because he was managing the Oakland Oaks in the minor leagues. I remember very well when Ott broadcasted Detroit Tigers' baseball games with Van Patrick from 1956 through 1958 and enjoyed him very much. His death in November of 1958 was a great loss to all of baseball and to those who followed the Tigers on the radio. Many athletes may be great on the field, but are a disappointment off the field. Ott didn't disappoint those who looked up to him. The book is easy to read and should be enjoyable for anyone from teen agers to adults. Thanks, Fred Stein for a great effort. I only wish the book was available in hard cover.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Norman Lev on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fred Stein did a terrific job of bringing Mel Ott to life with great stories of his entry into baseabll at the age of 16 and his subsequent rise to become a Hall of Famer . The Postal Service recently honored Mel Ott by issuing a commemorative stamp and named him one of the all time great sluggers. Stein depicts the era in which Ott, Terry and Mcgraw as manager of the NY GIants, played, as one of the most exciting times to witness the greats in action. Well done and a must for any baseball enthusiast.
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