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Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself Hardcover – May 12, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1958, after the Dodgers and Giants had both left New York for California, a group of investors sought to bring the city a new baseball franchise, and their proposal was a bold one. Led by former Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, they sought to create an entire new major league. Meanwhile, as the advocates for the would-be Continental League tried to make their case before the existing major league owners, New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel struggled to keep America's most popular team in championship form. Shapiro (The Last Good Season) parallels these two stories, arguing that they represent a hinge point when team owners could have taken radical steps to reclaim the sport's hold on the public imagination, but chose instead to cling tightly to their near-monopoly, paving the way for other sports, like football, to rise in popularity. The history, filled with colorful personalities, is told in a straightforward manner. While its two halves don't always fit together neatly, they offer a lively perspective on backstage dealings that almost changed the course of professional sports in America. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Mr. Shapiro tells his tale with verve. . . . It’s an enjoyable ride."--The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Shapiro dramatically builds his tale to a walloping conclusion."--Sam Roberts, The New York Times

“A compelling and thoroughly enjoyable trip back in time to a turning point that never turned.”--The Washington Times

"Sharply researched . . . Exactly how the Continental League gathered strength and then faltered, and exactly how its impact is felt today, are treasures to be unearthed in [Bottom of the Ninth]."--Sports Illustrated

"Elegant and exhaustively researched . . . It’s a testament to Shapiro’s sharp eye for detail that he keeps the story zipping along. . . . He captures the sense of loss – not only for Rickey and Stengel, but for baseball and its fans."--The New York Times Book Review

"By far the best investigation of the failure of the Continental League. . . . A fascinating piece on a long neglected aspect of baseball's past."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"[An] engaging look at a significant, though often forgotten, chapter in the game’s history."--The Boston Globe

"A must for Mets fans, who should know their roots. . . . Terrific."--Bill Madden, New York Daily News

"Shapiro. . . is a terrific writer. His accounts of Branch Rickey's struggle and eventual failure to create a third major league, the Continental, as well as the last Yankee season of baseball's most successful manager, Casey Stengel (whose team lost the 1960 Series on Bill Mazeroski's home run in the seventh game), makes for compelling reading."--Allen Barra, The San Francisco Chronicle

"Compelling." – Los Angeles Times

"[Shapiro] has once again hit it out of the literary park. . . . This retelling of a little-known chapter in baseball history is exemplary sports reporting."--Tucson Citizen

"This season brings a bumper crop of books about baseball in New York, the best of which concerns a team and a league that don’t even exist. Michael Shapiro’s ‘Bottom of the Ninth’ . . . is one of the best tales of what might have been, how baseball might have harnessed the power of television and how the sport might have staved off the rise of football."--David M. Shribman, Bloomberg News

"A fascinating look at an almost forgotten era. . . . One of the best baseball books of recent seasons. Grade: A."--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Michael Shapiro hits another one out of the park."--Richmond Times-Dispatch

"The fascinating, might-have-been story of the Continental League."--Tulsa World

"Filled with colorful personalities . . . A lively perspective on backstage dealings that almost changed the course of professional sports in America."--Publishers Weekly

"Shapiro expertly enlivens these two larger-than-life characters and captures in fine detail an important era in baseball history. A well-crafted story."--Kirkus Reviews

"If you like an untold story, and who of us does not, and if you are even a little bit of a sports junky than "Bottom of the Ninth" belongs on your reading list. . . .Shapiro, author of "The Last Good Season," is in top form breaking new ground and providing new awarenesses of a little reported on chapter in American sports history. . . . A good read."--Harvey Frommer, author of New York City Baseball, 1947-1957

"Michael Shapiro shines a warm and penetrating light into the largely forgotten era of baseball in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when New York still had the Yankees, but the Dodgers and Giants had fled and the Mets were yet to be. Bottom of the Ninth is a treat for anyone who loves the game or suffers over its stumbles."--David Margolick, author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink

"Baseball is all about good stories.  In this well-conceived and graceful book, Michael Shapiro wraps the superb story of the 1960 World Series within the intriguing tale of Branch Rickey’s concurrent efforts to start a new league—the Continental League. Shapiro argues that baseball made a crucial and irreversible error by aborting that league. Not surprisingly, the on-field stuff outdoes the business stuff, but only barely. A good read."--Fay Vincent, former commissioner of baseball and author of The Only Game in Town and We Would Have Played for Nothing

"Romance (of a sort), betrayal (short of literal backstabbing), conniving potentates, territorial maneuverings, midsummer dreams. Shakespeare?  Tolstoy? No, it’s a wonderfully crafted nonfiction book by Michael Shapiro, Bottom of the Ninth, with baseball machinations and great baseball characters the central subject. Read it. You’ll see what I mean."--Ira Berkow, author of Full Swing and The Corporal Was a Pitcher


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805082476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805082470
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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