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Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius Hardcover – April 7, 2015
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—The Wall Street Journal
—New York Post
"All the notable moments are here...Baseball (and Yankees) fans will devour this like ballpark popcorn, and all will muse about the many what-ifs of Martin's motley life."
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"Martin’s life was a rollicking one, and as with the life, so with the book. Pennington’s take is great fun, and the author’s drive to talk to everyone who may have known Martin—from the most arrogant star to the humblest bartender—is impressive."
"A motley cast of baseball Hall of Famers, including Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew, Ricky Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Tommy Lasorda, and Earl Weaver, make appearances in this must-read for fans of the great American pastime."
"[Pennington] provides what is likely to be the definitive profile, which, as such, belongs in most library sports collections, especially those where Yankee fans cluster."
—Mark Levine, Booklist
“Two words of advice: read this. Bill Pennington not only writes the sprawling, brawling, no-punches-pulled narrative Martin deserves, but also deftly illuminates the humanity of one of baseball's epic characters.”
—Tom Verducci, bestselling author of THE YANKEE YEARS (with Joe Torre)
"The hair on my forearms was standing up by the end of the fifth paragraph of this book's introduction. I knew Billy Martin. I covered Billy Martin. But I never knew him like this. Congrats to Bill Pennington for the definitive work on baseball's flawed genius.''
—Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe columnist and bestselling author of FRANCONA (with Terry Francona) and SENIOR YEAR
“Billy Martin has been dead for 25 years? Wow. That means there's a generation or two that know nothing about this character of baseball characters, this incandescent ballplayer/manager/jerk/sweetheart, this irrepressible brawler with a grand mind for the game. Bill Pennington cures all that with 'Billy Martin, Baseball's Flawed Genius.' This is a terrific tale about a roller coaster life. Pour yourself a cocktail and enjoy. The descriptions of the fistfights alone are worth the price of admission.”
—Leigh Montville, bestselling author of TED WILLIAMS, THE BIG BAM and EVEL
“It has been easy to think of Billy Martin as a cartoon--one created by the media and abetted by the man himself. But he was a great American, as important to understanding our game, and our nation, as Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio. You'll never think of Billy Martin in the same way again, thanks to Bill Pennington's masterpiece of a biography.”
—John Thorn, Official Historian, Major League Baseball
About the Author
- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Printing. edition (April 7, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0544022092
- ISBN-13 : 978-0544022096
- Lexile measure : 1040L
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.84 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #998,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I chose to read this book because he was a baseball figure from my childhood, and because I was negatively pre-disposed to him. I was certain that there had to be some good in there somewhere. There was and there wasn't. The book is so thorough, it is almost unbelievable. I was not looking to validate my opinion of him, nor to disprove it. I was looking to understand Billy Martin. He is very complicated to me. His story is so interesting both inside and outside of baseball. I found myself rooting for him in much of the book. His decisions related to baseball were terrific. His instincts and his will to win are undeniable. In his personal life he was both generous and selfish, if that is possible.
In the end, I am glad I took the time to read this book (and it is long). I have a much greater understanding and appreciation for Billy Martin having read it. Bill Pennington did an enormous amount of research for this book and the detail is amazing. He chose a great figure to document. If you appreciate baseball from Martin's era, both playing and managing, you will appreciate this book.
He grew up in a tough neighborhood and learned early to be tough himself. He learned how to box. Even though he was scrawny, his teacher was impressed with how well he learned the craft. In his youth he played sandlot baseball and high school baseball and learned to be scrappy and to hustle. He signed a contract and ended up with the Oakland minor league team, where he patiently learned his craft. His manager? Casey Stengel. It took a while for him to break into the lineup, but he showed his skills.
As readers know, Stengel went to the Yankees to be their manager. When Martin went to the Yankees, they were a marquee team--Joe DiMaggio as the icon. Over time, the transition occurred and Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and others became the heart of the team. And Martin was an important cog. It was during the q950s that he became known as tempestuous, often getting into scrapes and fighting.
With his career ended, he had opportunities as a manager. He managed for a number of teams--Minnesota, Oakland, the Yankees (of course), and so on. The book does a very good job describing what he brought to a team as a manager. His style could be termed "Billy Ball." He turned several teams around within a year. But his mercurial temperament ensured that he would never stay in one place for long. His record of four marriages and his almost out of control personal life are told well. Billy Martin's life wasn't pretty on many occasions and he made a mess of his personal life--often with implications for his professional career. He drank too much and so on.
But, for a reader interested in Billy Martin, this is an outstanding work. The research appears pretty through and the details provided in this book give one a pretty clear picture of the person.