October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978

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9780156029711: October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978

On the morning of October 2, 1978, the World Champion NewYork Yankees found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. That day these rousing ball clubs would meet at Fenway Park. Both had won ninety-nine games. Only one would win one hundred. The Yankees should have been reaching for their golf clubs-they had feuded until they were fourteen games out of first place. Then their fortunes turned, and they capped one of the most thrilling comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Red Sox that October afternoon in a game that many still remember as the greatest ever played. Transporting us into the midst of this unforgettable team, Roger Kahn weaves the first in-depth account of the legendary season of '78 and reaffirms his standing as our nation's master storyteller of baseball.

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Review:

October Men reads like a night spent in the dugout with a veteran manager during a lopsided game. Roger Kahn sits beside you occasionally narrating the events of each inning as it unfolds while frequently digressing into anecdotes from his lifetime as a baseball writer. The digressions--everything from Yankees's VP Al Rosen's connections to the Las Vegas boxing scene to a brief history of the 1903 New York Highlanders (the "Pleistocene Yankees")--are all interesting, but one frequently loses track of the main reason for being there.

In this case, the main story is the tumultuous 1978 Yankees's season. What makes this particular season an interesting subject for a book is that it is not the story of a group of young heroes who rallied together to make a team that was somehow larger than its parts. Rather, the 1978 Yankees was a team patched together with aging stars (Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Catfish Hunter) from other teams, held fast by George Steinbrenner's money, and piloted by the tempestuous Billy Martin. This was a team expected to win a world championship. The story Kahn tries to tell is how this boatload of talent nearly ran aground because of bickering, paranoia, and racism.

Kahn's breadth of knowledge is impressive, and the many insider tales he relates are entertaining; but October Men does not flow effortlessly as a narrative of the 1978 team. If one can excuse the digressions and occasional disjointed transitions, though, there is much pleasure to be had from this prime spectator's seat. --Patrick O'Kelley

From the Back Cover:

"[Kahn is] a master storyteller . . . October Men sprawls like a great ballpark conversation, encompassing the big and the small, the old and the new, the sacred and the profane."-The New York Times Book Review
On the morning of October 2, 1978, the Yankees, once fourteen games behind, found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. They capped one of the most thrilling comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Red Sox that afternoon in a game that many still remember as the greatest ever played. Transporting us into the midst of this unforgettable team, Roger Kahn weaves the first in-depth account of the legendary season of '78 and renders the story an American classic.
"It's not a nice story but a gripping one. And Kahn tells it with his customary verve."-Los Angeles Times
"Kahn's glittering group portrait paints the Yanks as both goats and heroes, and they are vividly, engagingly, enragingly human in both roles . . . He can epitomize a player with a single swing of the pen."-Time

Widely acclaimed as the greatest baseball writer of his generation, Roger Kahn is the author of sixteen books, including The Boys of Summer, named by Sports Illustrated as the best baseball book of all time. He lives in Stone Ridge, New York.

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