The Lords of the Realm
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2003
One of my biggest complaints about the sports section of most newspapers these days is that it has more crime and business news than sports. I normally don't like reading about the business of sports, but this book is outstanding. It's a history of labor negotiations through the history of baseball, and exposes the owners as some of the greediest and stupidest people you'll ever read about.
Marvin Miller made them all pay for their stupidity, getting exactly what he wanted from his negotiations with them. The book is full of great anecdotes. One of my favorites was when Jimmy Foxx won the American League Triple Crown and they tried to cut his salary the next season, because he hadn't hit as many homers as he did the year before. He actually had to hold out just to get the same pay he made the year before.
All baseball fans should read this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2000
Heylar has written a detailed, sometimes complicated, book that fully explains the state of baseball in 2000. Perhaps, some readers will find the narrative slow and plodding but if you are interested in baseball, the rich detail, of the book, that omits no information that would help explain a particilar point is most welcome.
Heylar weaves the familar of baseball history such as Cobb, Ruth, Mantle, and the major historic games of the sport with the economics that really drove the game but was kept out of sight until Marvin Miller stepped onto the stage of baseball.
The book is valuable and unique because of the coverage of the economic underside of baseball and how the power structure within the game has shifted since the early 1970s.
The book is a must read for someone who is interested in the real "history" of baseball.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2001
If you want to know about baseball, this is the one book you MUST read. From the early days of robber-baron owners, to the formation of the most powerful union in the world, this book tells it all in great detail. I cannot recommend it enough to fans of the game as well as anyone interested in the history of business in America. It has been said that to know the history of America, you must know the history of baseball. This book exemplifies that thought. Its out of print, but try as hard as you can to find a copy. You will not be dissapointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 1999
Maybe one of the best books I have EVER read. If you are a basbeall fan and have NOT read this book, you only know half of the story. This book contains all of the history that explains the present. Get past the dogma of "greedy ballplayers" and understand how baseball got to where it is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 1999
Starts slowly -- the first century of baseball history is covered in just one chapter. May be initially disappointing if the reader expects stirring on-field accounts rather than baseball in the boardroom. But read on to find a fascinating, epic history full of strategy, tactics and colorful characters. Marvin Miller the saint, Peter Ueberroth the genius and Fay Vincent the politically incompetent are just a few who march across its stage. For one thing the owners and labor reps are more intelligent than the jocks out there on the field so their thoughts and reflections are more interesting as well. Overall, one draws the conclusion that no one ever really owned a baseball team to make money, a reflection on the intelligence of the owners. Ironically, the book ends in 1994, just before what we know now was to be the most incredible labor action of them all, and its subsequent rejuvenation courtesy of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and the new-style ballparks. A supplementary volume would be great to see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 1999
This book gives the reader great insight into the century-old history of the baseball owners' stormy relationship with their players. Through the 1960's, the owners would do virtually anything for their players but pay them well. In the 1970's, players won the major victory of free-agency. Then, through the 80's and 90's, players have been avenging their past suffering with a vengeance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2011
Helyar's book dives into the long, tumultuous history of the business of baseball. He shows the evolution of the game from a sport completely dominated by the owners to a struggle between the owners and the labor union. Most chapters show an evolution from this standpoint, with a few asides about popular baseball issues during their time (i.e. the suspension of George Steinbrenner and Pete Rose). Lots of interesting tidbits can be found in this book, such as why Dodgers Stadium serves only Miller beer products and how Catfish Hunter got his nickname. One downside is the book is slightly lengthy (over 600 pages), but a large majority of it is relevant, interesting, and easy to read. I strongly recommend this for any fan of baseball.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2004
This is a rare book about the history of baseball owners. That wouldn't seem like a subject that's nearly as interesting as the feats of the players (and it's not), but it's a fascinating story all the same. There's great stories about eccentric owners like Charlie Finley, Walter O'Malley, Ted Turner, and George Steinbrenner. It shows their consistent ineptitude at dealing with issues like arbitration, free agency, revenue issues and fan relations. And yet the game of baseball goes on no matter how they try to screw it up. And why is major league baseball the nation's only legal cartel? Helyar explains it for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 1998
After reading this book and reviewing the history of the player/owner relationship it is apparent to even the casual baseball fan how baseball has always been a selfish business instead of the game we all remember as children. Helyar details the labor struggles between the employer and the employee with humor and facts bringing out the bitterness and cynicism which has built up throughout the century. Read it and tell a friend, it will not dissapoint
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2006
This book does a superb job describing the business of baseball. Author John Helyar gives readers a strong historical perspective, explaining how and why the game got to be the way it is today (well, as of 1994). The author devotes considerable attention to labor issues. We learn about the days of reserve clause "slavery," the success of union chief Marvin Miller at winning gains for the players, and of owner attempts to cheat the players via collusion. Readers see that the game's overseers (team owners) are often driven by greed and desire for power. We also see why disparate, unshared local broadcast revenues give advantages to teams in large markets (New York, Los Angeles, etc.) and make it tough for small market teams like Kansas City and Milwaukee to compete. The author also refutes that repeated owner lament that they are losing money. Yes, a few teams (Montreal Expos) have bad years financially, but if most teams lost money - and they don't - then player paychecks would bounce, the price of franchises would stop rising, and owners would stop holding bidding wars for top free agents.

At this writing, baseball is enjoying both ups and downs. Last season (2005) saw another attendance record (74 million fans), but that means higher ticket prices, and one sees far fewer kids today playing the game in the sandlots. Still, as the late Bill Veeck said, owners haven't been able to ruin baseball despite their best efforts. Readers that like this book might consider similar books by Marvin Miller and announcer Bob Costas.
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