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We Would Have Played for Nothing: Baseball Stars of the 1950s and 1960s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project) Paperback – April 7, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vincent's second volume of interviews with ballplayers hearkens to a time when kids played baseball all day (with only a break for lunch), annual salaries for professional players rarely reached six figures and the color barrier was only recently broken by Jackie Robinson. Robinson's legacy looms large in the 11 accounts featured here; in one of the book's more touching passages, late New York Giants shortstop Bill Rigney laments failing to introduce himself after the Brooklyn Dodger slugged his first big-league home run against the Giants in 1947. Elsewhere, Duke Snider recalls playing in the final game at Ebbets Field before the Dodgers moved west, and Carl Erskine reveals that players back then didn't bother to read their contracts. Author and former baseball commissioner Vincent records verbatim his subjects' comments, preserving each player's characteristic mannerisms but encouraging digression; that said, everybody questioned has remarkably detailed memories and plenty of opinions on today's game. This is a vivid, entertaining read for anyone old enough to remember Whitey Ford, Lew Burdette and Billy Williams, and an informative insider's history for a new generation of fans.
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

This engaging collection of 11 interviews with some of baseball’s best players from the 1950s and 1960s, whose salaries were often less than $10,000, might have been better subtitled, “And, Come to Think of It, We Did” (play for nothing, that is). But those guys could play. Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent just starts the tape and lets them talk. There’s Ralph Branca, alternately bitter and philosophical about the Shot Heard ’Round the World that Bobby Thompson hit off him in 1951; Harmon Killebrew downplaying the monster homers he hit off everybody; Whitey Ford (236–106 lifetime) sharing great Yankee stories; and Brooks Robinson marveling more at his great peers than at his own illustrious career. Other interviewees include Bill Rigney, Duke Snider, Robin Roberts, Carl Erskine, Lew Burdette, Frank Robinson, and Billy Williams. This loving, valuable addition to baseball historiography is a sequel to Vincent’s earlier The Only Game in Town (2006), which compiled interviews with stars of the 1930s and 1940s. --Alan Moores --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 2)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416553436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416553434
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,267,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelously "put-together" baseball book containing the inner thoughts, dreams and actual accomplishments of eleven former Major League players from the (19)50's and 60's. The reason I say "put-together" rather than written is because this book was created by transcribing videotaped interviews into a manuscript. The author "tried to faithfully record the comments of the interviewees, correcting minor grammatical mistakes and occasional errors caused by the inevitable lapses of memory after several decades." The end result is a "STUNNING" recreation of when "BASEBALL WAS STILL A GAME!" Due to the fact that actual interviews have been transcribed, the reader benefits from this unique protocol and feels as if each player is sharing his personal stories directly with you.

The eleven players highlighted in this book include Hall Of Famers Duke Snider, Robin Roberts, Whitey Ford, Harmon Killebrew, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams, 1957 World Series MVP Lou Burdette, two time World Champion and thrower of two no-hitters, Carl Erskine, twenty game winner and an eternal historical figure for throwing the pitch that resulted in "The Shot Heard Round The World", Ralph Branca, and "baseball lifer" Bill Rigney. Every one of these elite storytellers takes you back to where their dreams began and how honored they were to achieve their boyhood goals of playing in the Big Leagues. It's hard not to notice the modesty and unpretentious attitudes that these humble stars reveal, which is in sharp contrast to the attitudes and behavior of today's players.

There are so many "delicious" intimate details shared with the reader from the clubhouse and the playing field from the glorious years gone by, when baseball truly was "THE NATIONAL PASTIME".
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Format: Hardcover
Today, with so many players having multi-million dollar contracts, I first looked at this book in the store because of the title. But it turns out to be even more interesting than I thought. It's interviews with a lot of the great players from back in the old days, and it really gives you a sense of what it was like for them personally to be playing the game back in the 50s and 60s. I was especially interested in the three interviews with members of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I grew up hearing a lot about guys like Duke Snider, but to actually read their stories from their point of view gave me a whole new perspective on them. It's not about stats and numbers, but about the personal things that influenced each player's career. Some guys talk about their mothers, others talk about their relationships with their managers, owners or other players. It's the kind of stuff you don't find in history books. I really recommend this book to all baseball fans.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my father's 80th birthday and he loved it. He said it brought back so many great baseball memories. He's a die hard baseball fan. I would highly recommend it. It brought a smile to his face and great enjoyment.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another solid effort by the former baseball commissioner, Fay Vincent, who gave us "The Only Game in Town" and "The Last Commissioner" and who continues to love the great game of baseball.
Baseball fans, especially long-timers, will enjoy reading the first-hand commentary (on their experiences and on the state of baseball today)of such big-name stars as Robin Roberts, Harmon Killebrew, Frank and Brooks Robinson, and Billy Williams, among others. Also included is Bill Rigney, a lesser light as a player but an acknowledged "star" as manager. This volume is an easier read than its predecessor as the interviewer has polished his subjects' actual words just a bit. I'm hoping another volume--especially one that offers the insights/feelings/reactions of some of the less-heralded players of previous generations--is forthcoming.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contained in We would have played for nothing are mini autobiographies of nine baseball players from the 1950`s and 1960's. These were some of the tops stars from that era. Ralph Branca ( the pitcher that gave up the shot heard around the world), Robin Roberts, Whitey Ford, Harmon Killebrew, Duke Snyder, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Carl Erskine, Lew Burdette and Billy Williams. Having become a fan of baseball in the late 60's I know all of the names from an early age really with the exception of Ralph Branca and Carl Erskine whom I know of but didn't have much of a background on them.

The ball players all talk about what the game was like back then when it came to negotiating contracts ( there no player agents back then), the ball player did all of his negotiating but the owners held al of the keys. One of the interesting things that a couple of the players talked about was the fact that they only got one year contracts back then so that player had to be at his best and even if the player had a better year then the one before the owners would still try to cut their pay. They talked about being driven to play every day even it they were injured because if they didn't that would be held against them the next year where as players today get multi million dollar, multi year contracts and so if a player feels like it it's a little easier for them to sit out games today. They also talk about the pressure on players today stay in condition year round. The obligation to the fans. Steroid use is barely mentioned.

Both Frank Robinson and Duke Snyder talk about segregation how black ball players very often had to stay in different hotels and eat at different places as their white team mates got to stay and eat.
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