“With its personal feel and near-mystical quality, this highly recommended work will mesmerize baseball lovers and casual fans.” Library Journal, Starred Review
A behind-the-scenes look at baseball history, as told through timeless interviews with major leaguers
For fifty years, bestselling author Peter Golenbock has been interviewing some of the most fascinating figures in baseball. Their conversations are a journey back in time to the days of Ruth and Gehrig, Gehringer and Greenberg, Robinson and Reese, and Howard and Mantle, as they reflect on the sport’s greatest moments and biggest issues.
In Baseball Heaven, Golenbock brings together for the first time the most historic and captivating of these conversations. The stories range from Elden Auker remembering the day Lou Gehrig told him he was sick to Albert Happy Chandler reflecting on his decision to allow Jackie Robinson into the big leagues, from Ralph Branca discussing the home run he gave up that cost the Dodgers the pennant to Del Webb talking about why he hired Casey Stengel and why he fired him.
Baseball Heaven is baseball history at its very best. It pulls back the curtain on the major leagues to reveal inside stories, intimate reminiscences, and the friendships and rivalries that make baseball America’s Game.
Peter Golenbock has written more than sixty books, including ten New York Times best sellers. His books on baseball include Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964; The Bronx Zoo (with Sparky Lyle); Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers; Balls (with Graig Nettles); Amazin’: The Miraculous History of New York’s Most Beloved Baseball Team; and Whispers of the Gods: Tales from Baseball’s Golden Age, Told by the Men Who Played It. He resides in St. Petersburg, FL.
Chapter 1: Elden Auker: “I’d like to see you throw directly underhand.”
Chapter 2: Elden Auker: Ole Diz, Mickey Cochrane, and Hammering Hank
Chapter 3: Elden Auker: Joe Cronin Drives Him Crazy
Chapter 4: Johnny Pesky: Pesky Holds the Ball
Chapter 5: Albert Happy Chandler: “I will allow Jackie Robinson to play for Brooklyn”
Chapter 6: Del Webb: “Would you be interested in buying the Yankees?”
Chapter 7: Del Webb: Stengel and Weiss and Victory
Chapter 8: Ralph Branca: The Ace of the Staff
Chapter 9: Ralph Branca: The Shot Heard Round the World
Chapter 10: Bobby Thomson: The Shot Heard Round the World
Chapter 11: Donald Hall: My Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers
Chapter 12: Elston Howard: For the Yankees, the First
Chapter 13: Hot Rod Kanehl: Casey’s Pet
Chapter 14: Rod Kanehl: I Was an Original Met
Chapter 15: Dock Ellis: A Life on the Edge
Chapter 16: Dock Ellis: Cocaine and Yankee Turbulence
Chapter 17: Gary Carter: The Missing Ingredient
Chapter 18: Gary Carter: The Ball Goes Through Buckner’s Legs
Prolific baseball writer Golenbock’s success in sports writing has largely been attributed to his talent for conducting interviews, especially his ability to ask the right questions and develop trust with his subjects. In this behind-the-scenes look at baseball history, he quotes heavily, including raw details, from the manuscripts of his interviews with a number of lesser-known characters who have firsthand knowledge of famous baseball events and players. Golenbock’s interviewees include the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who signed Jackie Robinson, the first Black major-league baseball player, to his team; the pitcher responsible for Bobby Thomson’s walk-off home run that became the “shot heard ’round the world”; a player from the notoriously bad early New York Mets team, who began playing in 1962; and the late baseball player Gary Carter, who elucidates the inner workings of the wildly successful 1986 season in which the Mets won their second World Series. A wonderfully distinctive and intriguing baseball history with something of a New York bent. With its personal feel and near-mystical quality, this highly recommended work will mesmerize baseball lovers and casual fans.
In Baseball Heaven, Peter Golenbock gives us a wonderful book of interviews with ballplayers that transports us back to another era. Nobody does it better than he does.
This is the greatest baseball book I think I have ever read. What makes it great is the style, the interviews, and I must admit, I am a little jealous because I have known some outstanding interviewers but Peter Golenbock has managed to show the interview as an art form. This is a book that, yes, is like heaven, because of all the golden nuggets about baseball, but Peter has also given us an insight into his genius as an interviewer. Magnifique!
Here is Dock Ellis, famous for pitching a no-hitter while floating on LSD, years later terrified as a Senior League starter that his skills would desert him now that he was sober. Here are tales of Leo Durocher, all-star criminal who stole money and a watch from roommate Babe Ruth, and of Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler, who was actually a hero, run out of baseball as payback for his courage standing up to the owners’ vote to keep Jackie Robinson out of the major leagues. All of this and way more lies ahead in this wonderful mosaic of the game. (From the foreword)
Baseball’s continued mythical appeal is only made possible by the many characters who have become central to the sport’s history. Golenbock has talked to more of these characters than almost anybody else. And by sharing some of their best stories in this book, he has provided us baseball fans a great gift. These stories provide fascinating color to the game’s key eras and moments: Ted Williams’ ascension to greatness, the launching of the second Yankee dynasty, the Shot Heard Round the World, and the 1969 Miracle Mets to name a few. But perhaps even more interestingly, these stories reveal what could have been. Commissioner Richard Nixon, anybody? Readers will learn something new on every page as they’re taken on a ride through baseball history that will leave them swearing they’re in Baseball Heaven.
Includes a foreword by Robert Lipsyte, award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times, author, and former Ombudsman for ESPN