10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Nice Guys Finish Last (Hardcover)
Leo Durocher has a story to tell you and you'd better listen because he doesn't care to repeat himself. At least that is the tone I got from reading his autobiography. He hits the ground arguing and never lets up. In the process, we get a good look at a career that spans Ty Cobb to Cesar Cedeno with plenty in between. This book is a must for Baseball history buffs. As a matter of fact, I think it helps if you ARE a Baseball history buff because you might know more about a number of the controversies that Durocher talks about. I was not familiar with a lot of the controversies he wrote about. However, that didn't detract from the book but neither did it add to my enjoyment of it. You come to understand early on that it is not coincidental that Durocher encountered so many controversies in his career. These include controversies surrounding his relationships with his players, his general managers, his owners, the umpires, his real or alleged off-field associations, as well as with various Baseball Commissioners. There is even a controvery or two surrounding his wives although, in fairness, it has more to do with their relationships with their former spouses than with him. In that regard, this is not a "kiss and tell" book. It's more a "now that you've heard everybody else's version, here's my side of the story" book. That's the problem with this book. Although Durocher acknowledges occassional short-comings, he seems to always be "set-up" by others to look like the bad guy. After a few dozen of his "corrections of the record" you come away feeling that this man may have had a hard time with the facts.
Durocher may be apologetic at times but his brash manner, that he never waivers from, emboldens him to give some surprizing frank observations about some icons of the game. He is polite but critical of Jackie Robinson (didn't work hard enough), Ernie Banks (too slow and too lame to be of much good to the team), and Ron Santo (whom he portrays as a crybaby) to mention a few. He has his heroes such as Willie Mays whom he considered the greatest player he ever saw. He has two people that he puts at a level just a notch under Mays; Pete Reiser whose career was shortened by injuries and Cesar Cedeno whom he (typically) detracts in the same sentence he praises. However, the star of this book is Leo Durocher (fair enough, it's his autobiography). Although it was "co-written" with Ed Linn, the book read like a non-stop monologue by Durocher. The book was copyrighted in 1975 but it has stood the test of time. His comments on the high salaries of the 1970's may sound ridiculous compared to what has happened since then. However, his comments are still valid (when adjusted for inflation). Once I got started on the book, I found it hard to put down. I also found it hard to think I was getting the full story.