Lefty: An American Odyssey

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“An intimate portrait of a man whose life off the field was equally as captivating as his unparalleled baseball career.”—Yankees Magazine  
 
Born into a small-town California ranching family, Vernon “Lefty” Gomez rode his powerful arm and jocular personality across America to the dugout of the New York Yankees. Lefty baffled hitters with his blazing fastball, establishing himself as the team’s ace. Now, drawing on countless conversations with Lefty, more than three hundred interviews conducted with his family, friends, competitors, and teammates over the course of a decade, and revealing candid photos, documents, and film clips—many never shown publicly—his daughter Vernona Gomez and her award-winning co-author Lawrence Goldstone vividly re-create the life and adventures of the irreverent southpaw. A star-studded romp through America’s most glamorous years, with cameos from Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, George Gershwin, Ernest Hemingway, and Marilyn Monroe, Lefty is at once a long-overdue reminder of a pitcher’s greatness and a heartwarming celebration of a life well-lived.
 
“His story transcends sports and gives us a much-needed lesson in grit and grace.”—Jon Meacham
 
“A loving and beautifully written tribute . . . Be prepared to be transformed, and to discover stars who were stars in an age when that word really meant something.”—Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning
 
“An amiable portrait of a baseball great—like Yogi Berra, Dizzy Dean and Satchel Paige—whose outsized personality looms even larger than his considerable athletic achievements.”—Kirkus Reviews
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About the author

Vernona Gomez is the daughter of June O’Dea and Vernon “Lefty” Gomez. As a child, she bounced on Babe Ruth’s knee, made sand castles on the beach with Joe DiMaggio, and won at cards with the legendary Cy Young. Growing up in a baseball family, Vernona brings an eyewitness account to the adventures chronicled in this book. She is a concert pianist, owner of the Creative Coaching Music Studio in Southport, Connecticut, and has two sons, John and Andrew.
 
Lawrence Goldstone is the author or co-author of thirteen previous books of fiction and nonfiction. One of his novels won a New American Writing Award, another was a New York Times notable mystery. His work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Toronto Star, Salon, and Slate, among others. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, with his wife and daughter.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Ballantine Books
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Published on
May 15, 2012
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780345526502
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Sports & Recreation / Baseball / General
Sports & Recreation / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tom Clavin and Danny Peary chronicle the life and career of baseball’s “natural home run king” in the first definitive biography of Roger Maris—including a brand-new chapter to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his record breaking season.

Roger Maris may be the greatest ballplayer no one really knows. In 1961, the soft-spoken man from the frozen plains of North Dakota enjoyed one of the most amazing seasons in baseball history, when he outslugged his teammate Mickey Mantle to become the game’s natural home-run king. It was Mantle himself who said, "Roger was as good a man and as good a ballplayer as there ever was." Yet Maris was vilified by fans and the press and has never received his due from biographers—until now.

Tom Clavin and Danny Peary trace the dramatic arc of Maris’s life, from his boyhood in Fargo through his early pro career in the Cleveland Indians farm program, to his World Series championship years in New York and beyond. At the center is the exciting story of the 1961 season and the ordeal Maris endured as an outsider in Yankee pinstripes, unloved by fans who compared him unfavorably to their heroes Ruth and Mantle, relentlessly attacked by an aggressive press corps who found him cold and inaccessible, and treated miserably by the organization. After the tremendous challenge of breaking Ruth’s record was behind him, Maris ultimately regained his love of baseball as a member of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. And over time, he gained redemption in the eyes of the Yankee faithful.

With research drawn from more than 130 interviews with Maris’s teammates, opponents, family, and friends, as well as 16 pages of photos, some of which have never before been seen, this timely and poignant biography sheds light on an iconic figure from baseball’s golden era—and establishes the importance of his role in the game’s history.
When in 2000 the Baseball Writers Association of America elected the ever-durable Carlton Fisk to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, many fans quietly pointed to the Hall’s omission of Fisk’ greatest American League contemporary, Thurman Munson. And when in 2001 the writers honored Kirby Puckett, the Twins star forced to retire with glaucoma after a brilliant but brief 12-year career, the same fans began to raise their voices in support of Munson, another short-timer who was once the toast of his team's hometown. In a position that requires the strapping on of hot, awkward equipment and the torturous alternation of standing and squatting, most catchers struggle to maintain electrolytes, let alone a respectable batting average. It is, in fact, a position so demanding, that men deemed good ball-handlers or pitcher confidants might hang on in the big leagues for years despite their drag on a team’s offensive production. Munson, like Fisk and National Leaguer Johnny Bench, was a tough-as-nails backstop, a Gold Glove winner, and the unquestioned leader of his team. Like Bench and Fisk, too, though to a lesser degree, Munson had home run power. But the Yankee captain was in, at least one respect, an even rarer breed of catcher—one who manages despite the physical and mental demands of his position to finish each year somewhere near the .300 mark. Munson, who ranked in the top 10 among A.L. hitters five of the nine full seasons he played, was widely considered one of his generation’s great clutch hitters. When the star catcher died at age 32, he was still in his prime, and it seems clear to many that on August 2, 1979, misfortune denied Munson his place in Cooperstown. Outlived by his contemporaries, who went on to post more impressive career numbers, and now overshadowed by the accomplishments of catchers from the current batter-biased era, Munson’s chances for recognition grow increasingly faint. But for all the praiseworthy things he did on the field in his short career, Thurman Munson accomplished as much in between the innings and games he labored through. And it might be his influence for which he’s ultimately remembered. In this work, author Chris Devine pays special attention to Munson as teammate, friend, husband, and father.
From acclaimed historian Lawrence Goldstone comes a thrilling narrative of courage, determination, and competition: the story of the intense rivalry that fueled the rise of American aviation.
 
The feud between this nation’s great air pioneers, the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss, was a collision of unyielding and profoundly American personalities. On one side, a pair of tenacious siblings who together had solved the centuries-old riddle of powered, heavier-than-air flight. On the other, an audacious motorcycle racer whose innovative aircraft became synonymous in the public mind with death-defying stunts. For more than a decade, they battled each other in court, at air shows, and in the newspapers. The outcome of this contest of wills would shape the course of aviation history—and take a fearsome toll on the men involved.
 
Birdmen sets the engrossing story of the Wrights’ war with Curtiss against the thrilling backdrop of the early years of manned flight, and is rich with period detail and larger-than-life personalities: Thomas Scott Baldwin, or “Cap’t Tom” as he styled himself, who invented the parachute and almost convinced the world that balloons were the future of aviation; John Moisant, the dapper daredevil who took to the skies after three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador, then quickly emerged as a celebrity flyer; and Harriet Quimby, the statuesque silent-film beauty who became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. And then there is Lincoln Beachey, perhaps the greatest aviator who ever lived, who dazzled crowds with an array of trademark twists and dives—and best embodied the romance with death that fueled so many of aviation’s earliest heroes.
 
A dramatic story of unimaginable bravery in the air and brutal competition on the ground, Birdmen is at once a thrill ride through flight’s wild early years and a surprising look at the personal clash that fueled America’s race to the skies.

Praise for Birdmen
 
“A meticulously researched account of the first few hectic, tangled years of aviation and the curious characters who pursued it . . . a worthy companion to Richard Holmes’s marvelous history of ballooning, Falling Upwards.”—Time
 
“The daredevil scientists and engineers who forged the field of aeronautics spring vividly to life in Lawrence Goldstone’s history.”—Nature
 
“The history of the development of an integral part of the modern world and a fascinating portrayal of how a group of men and women achieved a dream that had captivated humanity for centuries.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Captivating and wonderfully presented . . . a fine book about these rival pioneers.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“[A] vivid story of invention, vendettas, derring-do, media hype and patent fights [with] modern resonance.”—Financial Times
 
“A powerful story that contrasts soaring hopes with the anchors of ego and courtroom.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“A riveting narrative about the pioneering era of aeronautics in America and beyond . . . Goldstone raises questions of enduring importance regarding innovation and the indefinite exertion of control over ideas that go public.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From 2004 to 2011, Terry Francona managed the Boston Red Sox, perhaps the most scrutinized team in all of sports. During that time, every home game was a sellout. Every play, call, word, gesture—on the field and off—was analyzed by thousands. And every decision was either genius, or disastrous. In those eight years, the Red Sox were transformed from a cursed franchise to one of the most successful and profitable in baseball history—only to fall back to last place as soon as Francona was gone. Now, in Francona: The Red Sox Years, the decorated manager opens up for the first time about his tenure in Boston, unspooling the narrative of how this world-class organization reached such incredible highs and dipped to equally incredible lows. But through it all, there was always baseball, that beautiful game of which Francona never lost sight.

As no book has ever quite done before, Francona escorts readers into the rarefied world of a twenty-first-century clubhouse, revealing the mercurial dynamic of the national pastime from the inside out. From his unique vantage point, Francona chronicles an epic era, from 2004, his first year as the Sox skipper, when they won their first championship in 86 years, through another win in 2007, to the controversial September collapse just four years later. He recounts the tightrope walk of managing unpredictable personalities such as Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez and working with Theo Epstein, the general managing phenom, and his statistics-driven executives. It was a job that meant balancing their voluminous data with the emotions of a 25-man roster. It was a job that also meant trying to meet the expectations of three owners with often wildly differing opinions. Along the way, readers are treated to never-before-told stories about their favorite players, moments, losses, and wins.

Ultimately, when for the Red Sox it became less about winning and more about making money, Francona contends they lost their way. But it was an unforgettable, endlessly entertaining, and instructive time in baseball history, one that is documented and celebrated in Francona, a book that examines like no other the art of managing in today’s game.
“A warm, sentimental look at a baseball icon” (The Tampa Tribune).
 
Driving Mr. Yogi is the story of a unique friendship between two New York Yankees legends—a pitcher and catcher—who share rides, meals, and a bond that transcends the twenty-five-year difference in their ages.
 
The story begins in 1999, when Hall of Famer Yogi Berra is reunited with the Yankees after a long self-exile, the result of being unceremoniously fired by team owner George Steinbrenner fourteen years before. A reconciliation between Berra and the boss means that Berra will once again attend spring training. Retired-pitcher-turned-pitching-coach Ron Guidry knows the club’s young players will benefit from “Mr. Yogi’s” encyclopedic knowledge of the game, just as Guidry had during his playing days, so he encourages his old mentor to share his insights. In Yogi, Guidry finds not just a personable dinner companion or source of amusement—he finds a best friend.
 
At turns tender and laugh-out-loud funny, and teeming with unforgettable baseball yarns that span more than fifty years, Driving Mr. Yogi is a universal story about the importance of wisdom being passed from one generation to the next, as well as a reminder that time is what we make of it and compassion never gets old.
 
“Funny, revealing, and surprising . . . Anything that brings new Yogi Berra stories is a good book.” —MLB.com
 
“Lovingly documented . . . You’ll find yourself wishing it ain’t over till it’s over.” —Parade magazine
A mesmerizing forensic thriller that thrusts the reader into the operating rooms, drawing rooms, and back alleys of 1889 Philadelphia, as a young doctor grapples with the principles of scientific process to track a daring killer

In the morgue of a Philadelphia hospital, a group of physicians open a coffin and uncover the corpse of a beautiful young woman. What they see takes their breath away. Within days, one of them strongly suspects that he knows the woman’s identity…and the horrifying events that led to her death. But in this richly atmospheric novel–an ingenious blend of history, suspense and early forensic science–the most compelling chapter is yet to come, as young Ephraim Carroll is plunged into a maze of murder, secrets and unimaginable crimes....

Dr. Ephraim Carroll came to Philadelphia to study with a leading professor, the brilliant William Osler, believing that he would gain the power to save countless lives. As America hurtles toward a new century, medicine is changing rapidly, in part due to the legalization of autopsy–a crime only a few years before. But Carroll and his mentor are at odds over what they glimpsed that morning in the hospital’s Dead House. And when a second mysterious death is determined to have been a ruthless murder, Carroll can feel the darkness gathering around him–and he ignites an investigation of his own.

Soon he is moving between the realm of elite medicine, Philadelphia high society, and a teeming badlands of criminality and sexual depravity along the city’s fetid waterfront. With a wealthy, seductive woman clouding his vision, the controversial artist Thomas Eakins sowing scandal, and the secrets of the nation’s powerful surgeons unraveling around him, Carroll is forced to confront an agonizing moral choice–between exposing a killer, undoing a wrong, and, quite possibly, protecting the future of medicine itself….
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