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50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball

Rocco Constantino

Baseball is a game of incredible moments, awe-inspiring feats, and dramatic finishes. But not all of these events actually impacted the game itself or the players still to come. Moments such as Lou Gehrig’s last Opening Day appearance, the very first All-Star game, or Mickey Mantle’s first game to hit home runs from both sides of the plate are iconic not because they were game-changing plays, but because they affected the course of baseball history.

50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball, Rocco Constantino provides a fresh history of the national pastime by recounting the most extraordinary and iconic moments—both renowned and obscure—that shaped the game as it moved from the Dead Ball Era, through World War II, and on to the modern era. Events include Jackie Robinson’s first All-Star Game, Babe Ruth’s 50th home run in his first season as a Yankee, Hank Aaron’s first career home run, and many more. Highlighting these moments are Constantino’s exclusive interviews with over 50 former Major League Baseball players, managers, and umpires, as they candidly share their memories and provide commentary on these impactful events. Many of the players interviewed played in the World Series or an All-Star Game, including Rod Carew, Fred Lynn, Shawn Estes, and Jeff Montgomery.

50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball features rarely seen historic photographs of baseball immortals and modern photos of today’s stars. With two bonus chapters that include first-hand entertaining anecdotes from baseball icons and moving statements about those who helped them reach the sport’s pinnacle, this book is an engaging read for baseball fans and historians alike.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 256Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-6054-2 • Hardback • May 2016 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-6055-9 • eBook • May 2016 • $36.00 • (£24.95)
Rocco Constantino is an NCAA athletics administrator at Bloomfield College and baseball historian. He is also a freelance writer, most recently as a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and Baseball Hot Corner.
Foreword: Jeff Montgomery, MLB All-Star

Chapter 1: Noteworthy Debuts, Pioneers, and Baseball Firsts
Hank Aaron: Number 1 of 755
Ken Griffey Jr.: The Kid Debuts
Derek Jeter and Joe Torre: The Start of a New Dynasty
The First All-Star Game: The “Game of the Century”
Pumpsie Green: Years Overdue, Integration in Boston

Chapter 2: Magic Numbers
Pete Rose: The 4,000-Hit Club
Ted Williams: .406 the Hard Way
Walter Johnson: Closing the 400 Club
Roberto Clemente: Ending on 3,000
Lou Gehrig: 5,084 Days

Chapter 3: Masterful on the Mound
Sandy Koufax: The Dawn of the Phenom
Dave Stieb: No More Close Calls
Tom Seaver: The Franchise’s Best
Fernando Valenzuela: Fernandomania
Nolan Ryan: An Early Flash from the Express

Chapter 4: Incredible Feats and Unbreakable Records
Hippo Vaughn and Fred Toney: The “Double No-Hitter:
Joe Sewell: Baseball’s Unbreakable Record
Paul Molitor: Appreciating DiMaggio’s Streak
Mariano Rivera: 1,000 Games in Pinstripes
Greg Maddux: Prolonged Excellence on the Path to 350

Chapter 5: Tragedy, Trials, and Tribulations
Ray Chapman: Tragedy in the Batter’s Box
J. R. Richard: A Flamethrower Extinguished
Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer: Honoring the Captain
Tony Conigliaro: A Boston Miracle, a Boston Tragedy
Darryl Kile: A Tale of Two Legacies

Chapter 6: Passing down Tradition and Influencing the Pros

Chapter 7: The Immortals
Murderers’ Row: A Pitcher’s Worst Nightmare
Smoky Joe Wood: Robbed of Immortality
Jackie Robinson: Gaining Acceptance as an All-Star
Babe Ruth: Topping 50
Mickey Mantle: Changing the Game from Both Sides of the Plate

Chapter 8: Baseball’s Weird, Wild, and Colorful Characters
Bob Uecker: Mr. Baseball versus Juan Marichal
Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin: Boiling over in Boston
Mark Fidrych: “The Bird” Captivates the Sport
Pascual Perez: Inciting a Riot
George Brett: The Pine Tar Game

Chapter 9: Historic Home Runs
Hank Aaron: 715 with Class and Dignity
Mike Schmidt: 500 for the Win
Mel Ott: McGraw’s Boy Belts Number 511

Chapter 10: Hall of Famers’ Last Hurrahs
Carl Yastrzemski: From Williams to Yaz
Willie McCovey: Stretch’s Last Home Run
Grover Cleveland Alexander: The Underrated Immortal
Rogers Hornsby: A Last Display of Pure Power

Chapter 11: The New Millennium
The Montreal Expos: Expanding Baseball’s Borders
Tim Lincecum: Topping Christy Mathewson
Albert Pujols: A Pace Matched by No Other
Roger Clemens: The Turncoat Rocket

Chapter 12: Baseball Odds and Ends
Pete Gray: A Winner Never Quits
The 1988 Baltimore Orioles: Overcoming Futility
Ron Santo: A Hall of Famer after All
Pete Reiser: Last Rites

Chapter 13: Extra Innings

About the Author
The year in baseball has been an exciting one for Midwesterners, with both the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians in the World Series this year. If you want to learn more about baseball, CDPL has a great new book, 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball, by Rocco Constantino. This history is a collection of baseball memories including chapters on unbreakable records, historic home runs, the 'immortals' of baseball and more.
Journal Review

[This type] of [book is] great for sparking debate among friends and may honestly generate some disputes that are never settled.... Constantino’s book is well written, greatly detailed and he presents concise arguments as to why each of these moments should be considered one of the games 50 greatest ones.
Gregg's Baseball Bookcase

This book provides a fresh history of the game by recounting the most exceptional and memorable moments over more than a century. Author Rocco Constantino attempts to identify the 50 moments that changed the game or marked the beginning or the end of an era. This compilation of great moments in baseball history has a bit of everything and some unexpected candidates make it into the book. Perhaps, the best feature of the book is the photos ... very memorable photos.... Though there are many books that contain lists of the top events or moments of any sport, this book was a refreshing change in that many of the moments listed were not ones that one would expect.... This book is recommended for any baseball fan who wishes to learn more about important events in the sport’s history. The short passages make it a good choice for younger readers or those who prefer to read a book in bits and pieces. The unusual choices and reasoning behind them will make for debates about which moments to include in the top 50 that defined major league baseball. This is one of those books that one can keep after reading for later reference and makes for a good addition to one’s baseball book library.
The Inside Game: The Official Newsletter of SABR's Deadball Era Committee

An excellent collection of short, interesting stories and anecdotes, often told In a new light and always entertaining. Recommended easy summer reading for baseball fans.
Ft.Myers & Southwest Florida

One of the cool things about 50 Moments that Defined Major League Baseball is the number of perspectives you get. You don’t just read the story from the star’s perspective. You get a point of view from his teammates, his rivals and others who got to see it happen. There are great stories and quotes that emanate from Rocco’s inquiries to former major leaguers, who may not get asked these questions often, but have lots to share.
Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information / ESPN.com

As a major league umpire I have had the privilege of being on the field for many great moments in our national past time. As I read Rocco Constantino’s book, I was reminded how rich the history of Major League Baseball is. Whether you are a baseball historian or a casual fan, I believe you will enjoy this collection of the great moments in baseball history.
Ted Barrett, MLB Crew Chief, #65

Constantino has done a fine job of highlighting 50 stories about baseball, but the beauty of the book is that in reading those 50 you get a wonderful picture of the entire sport, its magnificent history, and why Americans love it so.
Bruce Chadwick, baseball historian

• Winner, Sports Collectors Digest - Best Baseball Books of 2016