Cooperstown is a sleepy New York village with a population barely eclipsing 2,000, in a location where if you arrive by mistake, "you've been lost for forty-five minutes." But Chafets explains why Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see destination for hundreds of thousands of baseball fans each year, diving into more than just the 200-plus players that have received baseball immortality by induction into the Hall of Fame. Chafets (A Match Made in Heaven) briefly explores the history of how the Hall of Fame came to pass, but the real good stuff comes as he dives into the politics of the museum and how race has played a role in who has received election and who has received the shaft. He looks at the "monks" who oversee the hallowed halls, the writers who act as gatekeepers to the Hall of Fame, and explains how election can make what was once a player's worthless memorabilia into a gold mine. Much of Chafets's subject matter is sure to strike a chord with baseball fans, and many will surely disagree with his stance on steroids as it relates to a player's induction. The relationships he develops with the Hall staff, combined with his accessible style, gives the reader a glimpse beyond what one might see at the exhibits. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Major League Baseball's most sacred shrine undergoes what its guardians have often sought to avoid-a critical analysis. Best known for his Middle East journalism-he is the founding managing editor of Jerusalem Report and author of works on Jewish issues and culture (A Match Made in Heaven, 2007, etc.)-Chafets brings both a fan's affection and a social critic's eye to his examination of the Cooperstown, N.Y., institution. He begins with a visit to the Hall's 2007 induction ceremony, where he wanders around with thousands of others in attendance, raising issues he examines more thoroughly later-fame, race, ethnicity, the steroid scandal and the torrents of money involved in the game and its memorabilia. Chafets sketches the history of the Hall, founded in 1939 by Stephen Clark, son of Cooperstown scion Edward Clark, Isaac Singer's partner in the sewing-machine industry. The author considers baseball's preposterous creation myth involving Abner Doubleday and looks at some of the early notables involved in the Hall. He charts the rise of baseball statisticians-most notably Bill James, who was initially viewed as a crank-and discusses the so-called "character clause" (No. 5) in the Hall's rules for election. Here, Chafets sees monumental malfeasance and quite a bit of racism and cronyism. Because baseball writers-almost all of them white-are the voters, players who curry favor with them have an easier path. As Chafets notes, the Hall comprises myriad drunks, adulterers, racists, gamblers, cheaters and liars-but occasionally the writers invoke Rule 5 to prevent the inclusion of someone with a personality too crusty, a history too tainted or a skin too dark. Chafets examines the cases of JoeJackson, Pete Rose, Dick Allen, Jim Rice, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others, concluding, in general, that Rule 5 should be eliminated. Amusing, sardonic and convincing. Author appearances in New York, New Jersey, Cooperstown, N.Y. Agent: Flip Brophy/Sterling Lord Literistic
Richard Ben Cramer
The story of the Hall is baseball and politics, lust for fame and gain, ridiculous ballyhoo and deadly serious business. Somehow, Zev Chafets got it all and told it with toughness, humor, and grace.
author of Heroes of Baseball Robert Lipsyte
Red Smith suggested blowing up the Hall of Fame and starting over, and Zev Chafets has planted the bomb. This smart, tough, funny history uses the flawed temple of the game as a prism to examine the nation as well as its pastime - sex, steroids, stats, and all.
author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won Jeff Pearlman
The Baseball Hall of Fame has long been viewed as some sort of pristine baseball palace, a hardball Mecca where the ghosts of greats walk the corridors. In Cooperstown Confidential, Zev Chafets does not merely humanize the Hall and its inhabitantshe paints a fascinating, in-depth, occasionally outlandish portrait to be hung alongside the busts of the Babe and Hammerin' Hank. Chafets knocks this one over the Green Monster.
author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of B Leigh Montville
Put in a couple of dead bodies, an inquisitive professor who looks a lot like Tom Hanks and maybe a car chase or two and Zev Chafets would have sports' answer to The DaVinci Code. Oh well we'll have to settle for a literate and provocative climb through the cobwebs, misconceptions and flat-out prejudices that exist behind the shiny exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nice work. Maybe Tom Hanks can play Zev Chafets in the movie.
author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered David Maraniss
Cooperstown Confidential is not the standard collection of rosy ancedotes about Hall of Fame baseball players. It is a fascinatingly hard-edged look inside the hallowed institution, and that makes it all the more delightful and revealing.