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Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball, 1903 to 2003 Hardcover – September, 2003

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The success of the Yankees has been built on management techniques that include innovation, strong leadership and the ability to spend money wisely, argues Fetter in his absorbing account of the relationship between good business practices and winning baseball. Although they are now regarded as the most successful franchise in sports, that distinction was far from certain when the Yankees began life as the Highlanders in 1903. It was not until Col. Jacob Ruppert acquired the team in 1914 that the organization was put in place that would produce perennial winners rather than constant losers. Ruppert's business acumen prompted him to purchase Babe Ruth in 1919, and his organizational structure allowed him to separate himself from the day-to-day operations of the Yankees in favor of Miller Huggins and Ed Barrow, manager and general manager, respectively, of Ruppert's teams. The Yankees' rise in the 1920s was at the expense of the New York Giants, which had ruled the National League and New York baseball in part by acquiring players from money-losing teams. Managerial squabbling led to the Giants' demise, and weak leadership later resulted in the resurrected Giants' move to San Francisco. As the Giants sank, the St. Louis Cardinals, led by Branch Rickey, became the Yankees' National League challenger. But a fallout between Rickey and Cardinal ownership resulted in Rickey's move to Brooklyn, where he, along with Walter O'Malley, would provide another foil for the Yankees. Fetter's telling of the rivalry with the Dodgers in the 1950s, along with the machinations that forced the Dodgers to move West, are particularly riveting. With the departure of the Dodgers and Giants in 1958, the Yankees stood alone as New York's baseball team, and despite the creation of the Mets in 1962, the Yankees continue to rule the baseball world. With its historical sweep, Fetter's work stands as a solid companion to Michael Lewis's Moneyball on how to build a winning baseball organization.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


As he meticulously recounts the rise of the Yankees, Fetter corrects many myths that have become accepted as fact. -- Wall Street Journal, Chaz Repak, 2 October 2003

Should become the primary work on the subject....excellent. -- New York Sun, Tim Marchman, 22 September 2003

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057195
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,608,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I head about it reading a review in the Wall Street Journal. When I first saw the phrase "the business of baseball" in the title I was fearful. But this was no review of accounting ledgers. It was instead a lively tour though the history of baseball with a focus on its most successful, and colorful team. It debunked many myths that I always carried around in my head (e.g. that my beloved Red Sox sold the Bambino to finance a play), and constantly got me thinking about the role of baseball in society and society in baseball. I thought it just as good in discussing free agency and the labor agreements of the last few years as it was covering the early history of the game. The author had a point of view, but it didn't get in the way of a clear and objective telling of the story. Best of all, it was just fun to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book offers a lively and original take on baseball history--the mighty Yankees from the viewpoint of their three great historical rivals, the Giants, the Cards and the Dodgers. Easy to read, full of interesting anecdotes, yet offering real insight into the development of baseball as a business.
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Format: Hardcover
Henry Fetter does a great job in dissecting what has enabled the loved & hated Yankees to establish and maintain their unparalleled dominance of a professional sport; in so doing, he has produced a CASEY Finalist that is battling nine other nominees for the coveted Award representing the Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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