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The Only Game in Town: Baseball Stars of the 1930s and 1940s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project) (Volume 1) Paperback – April 3, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first entry in an ambitious, multivolume oral history of baseball compiled by former commissioner Vincent collects the memories of 10 notable players from the 1930s and '40s. The tone is primarily upbeat, as when Dominic DiMaggio—one of the almost-as-talented but often forgotten brothers of Joe—sticks to the sunny side: "I think it's just a wonderful, wonderful game." The athletes have a forgivable tendency to ramble down memory lane and avoid deep analysis, often simply offering play-by-plays of famous games. Not surprisingly, then, it's the early integrators and Negro League pros like Larry Doby whose comments make the best reading; their stories have a drama and gravitas that some of the others lack. Vincent did not impose structure on his subjects, and there are a few redundancies in the narrative (although the twice-told story of Hank Greenberg storming into the White Sox locker room and calling out whoever made anti-Semitic remarks during the game is worth repeating). Dedicated fans stand to gain the most from this nostalgic spin through one slice of baseball history. (Apr.)
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.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A decade ago, Vincent, the former commissioner of major league baseball (1989-92), listened to the audiotapes that were the basis of Lawrence Ritter's classic baseball oral history, The Glory of Their Times. Eventually, Vincent, who unapologetically loves the game, decided to undertake a similar project, interviewing the great surviving players of the 1930s and 1940s as Ritter had done with those who played in the early twentieth century. The result is the first volume in a projected series to be called the Baseball Oral History Project. Included in this inaugural offering are interviews with Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Larry Doby, and Monte Irvin as well as numerous less accomplished but no less fascinating players of the era. What set many of these players apart was their participation in two events, World War II and the subsequent integration of baseball. But this isn't about personal sacrifice or carving out a historical niche. It's about playing baseball. Vincent's first questions to each of his subjects were, "Who got you interested in baseball?" and "Who gave you your first ball and glove?" Dom DiMaggio remembers his father throwing his boys' balls and gloves in the trash because he thought the game frivolous. This is wonderful book on its own, and the series is sure to become a cornerstone of any baseball collection. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Baseball Oral History Project (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743273184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743273183
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a book that any baseball fan needs to read. It makes us appreciate the game back when it was pure. When the game was truly the national pasttime, and the players such as Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, and so many others played a game they loved. Yes, it was a business, but it was also a game, which it's not anymore. It's a sport, no more, no less.

The stories of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Satchel Paige, Jimmie Foxx, Casey Stengel, and the ones we love reading about are there, along with Warren Spahn and Tommy Heinrich, Bob Feller, and Larry Doby. The discuss their lives, teammates, and what made baseball great.

I wish I could give this more than five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent provides an interesting oral history of baseball by recording the words of ten of the game's top players. The players include stars of the big leagues (Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Bob Feller, etc) one Negro Leaguer (Buck O'Neill), and two that played in both venues (Larry Doby, Monte Irvin). Each player spoke into a tape recorder, and their words are printed here, apparently verbatim. I liked the memories and insights from this diverse group of stars, not all of whom were educated or articulate. One wonders how many of today's pitchers follow Warren Spahn's method of stretching his arm between starts. I'm glad these interviews were conducted; Doby and Spahn both passed away in 2003, while at this writing the others range in age from 83 (Ralph Kiner) to 95 (Eldon Auker).

Some note that Lawrence Ritter (GLORY OF THEIR TIMES) and Donald Honig (IMAGE OF THEIR GREATNESS) wrote similar books about baseball's past, and perhaps in better fashion. Still, this version is a readable and interesting first-person look at baseball.
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Format: Hardcover
It was worth hearing these players' words verbatim, but it did make it awkward to read. Passing this off as original is a stretch; Fay Vincent "might" have compiled this stuff, but he certainly didn't do any real work.
It would have been better if they had put the questions that were asked, so you could follow a bit easier.
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By Ed on April 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. The players seemed more self-revealing, more confessional than usual. Maybe there's something about sitting in front of a former Commissioner that encourages full disclosure. Some examples: Bob Feller:"Josh Gibson couldn't hit a curve ball if he had an ironing board"; "Tommy Henrich could hit me if he had his eyes closed." Warren Spahn: "(Teammate Sam Jethroe) couldn't see, ran on his heels. He'd run by fly balls so hard it took him ten minutes to retrieve the ball..." Dom DiMaggio speaks of his dread of making eye contact with his brother right after he robbed Joe of a hit to put The Clipper's historic streak in jeopardy. And Larry Doby movingly tells of his gratitude to Joe Gordon for inviting him, a rookie and the AL's first black, to a pre-game catch. It was a public show of acceptance and Doby never forgot the kindness. Vincent has a knack for poking around in crannies that others ignore and that's why I gave the book four stars.

Ed Vane, Los Angeles, CA.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An oral history that catches the ethos of an earlier time in a most wonderful and unspoiled manner. Vincent's editing never disrupts the beauty or the simplicity of memories that flow from the passions of the men who played in the 30's and 40's. This is a work that ranks with those of Honig and Ritter. Easy read. An essential for the baseball library. An absolute delight.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A very well done book. It is a transcription of conversations with players from the 1930s and 40s including those who came over from the Negro League. About the only downside is that Fay is faithful to the exact words used by the players instead of cleaning up some of the grammar. It was wonderful to get perspective from greats such as Bob Feller, and next level tiers such as Dom Dimmagio.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is basically a compilation of interviews that Vincent did with baseball starts of the 1930s and 1940s. Nothing more, nothing less. They can get a bit choppy at times, but overall I thought the stories were tremendous. I'm a big baseball fan, and would recommend this book to similar people.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book for my dad for the holidays, and by the next day he had already read half of it. He absolutely could not put it down. I'm so happy with this purchase because the stories in this book make him smile. I can't wait to buy the next volume for his birthday!
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