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Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame [NOOK Book]

Overview


If baseball is America's national religion, then the Hall of Fame is its High Church. Being named among its 286 inductees makes you the closest thing our country has to an undisputed hero - even a secular saint. But the men in the Hall of Fame are no angels. Among their number are gamblers, drunks, race-baiters, at least one murderer, and perhaps the greatest collection of bona fide characters ever to be dignified by an honor of any kind.

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Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Overview


If baseball is America's national religion, then the Hall of Fame is its High Church. Being named among its 286 inductees makes you the closest thing our country has to an undisputed hero - even a secular saint. But the men in the Hall of Fame are no angels. Among their number are gamblers, drunks, race-baiters, at least one murderer, and perhaps the greatest collection of bona fide characters ever to be dignified by an honor of any kind.

This is the book the Hall of Fame deserves. Along with the story of the institution comes a smart, irreverent discussion of some of the great barstool questions of all time (Why did Jim Bunning make the Hall but not Mickey Lolich? How much is it worth to a player's autograph-signing career to get in? Did Ty Cobb really kill somebody?) and a fresh look at some of the Hall's most and least admirable characters. Taken in all, it amounts to a shadow history of America's Game, shown through the prism of its most sacred spot. Written with a deep love of the game and a hardened skeptic's eye, this is a book to incite both passionate conversation and a fresh appreciation of baseball as a mirror and catalyst for our nation's culture.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.
Kirkus Reviews
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
From the Publisher
"Chafets brings both a fan’s affection and a social critic’s eye to his examination of the Cooperstown, N.Y. institution...amusing, sardonic and convincing." Kirkus "Chafets 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… gives the reader a glimpse beyond what one might see at the exhibits.” Publishers Weekly "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 inhabitants—he 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." Jeff Pearlman, author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won "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." Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth "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." Robert Lipsyte, author of Heroes of Baseball 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." Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life "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." —David Maraniss, author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608191093
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 575,378
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.87 (d)
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Zev Chafets is the author of ten books, including A Match Made in Heaven, Members of the Tribe, and The Devil's Night. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine, among many other periodicals, a former columnist for the New York Daily News, and the founding editor of Jerusalem Report. He lives in Westchester, New York, with his wife and children.
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Table of Contents

Preface 1

1 Induction Weekend 7

2 Paternity Suit 21

3 James and the Vets 38

4 A Question of Character 49

5 The Monks 72

6 The Haul of Fame 85

7 Bad, Bad Barry Bonds 110

8 The Marvin Miller Affair 137

9 Lost in Translation 151

10 Mitchell and Clemens 163

11 A Few Closing Thoughts 194

Acknowledgments 199

Appendix 1 Rules for Election 201

Appendix 2 Hall of Fame Members 205

Appendix 3 The Honor Rolls of Baseball 215

Notes 217

Bibliography 223

Index 227

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

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1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    Entertaining!

    It is what it says... If you love baseball, you'll love this book! Great story through the eyes of a non-sports writer about the HOF?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    A Treat for Baseball Fans!

    You will never look at the Baseball Hall of Fame the same way again. An eye-opener for any student of the game, Zev Chafets has created an amazing revisionist history that makes you re-examine the players in the hall and the future of those trying to get in. Endlessly fascinating.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    I was very entertained by this book, as I learned facts about ba

    I was very entertained by this book, as I learned facts about baseball players that I never would've known. Like players like Ty Cobb being in the KKK. I learned too, about Cooperstown Induction Weekend, an event I really want to attend in my life. I received this book for Christmas, and now that I have have completed the book, it was probably one of my favorite christmas presents. 
    I also liked seeing how political the Hall of Fame is, and how strong some peoples opinions are on some players, whether they should be in, or are in and shouldn't be. I would love to have the opportunity to vote on who gets in, and be a part of the discussion. Overall, this book gave me knowledge of the game, and facts I might not have learned.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2013

    Not much new

    I was highly disappointed with this book. There wasn't much new ground here. Mostly it was a re-hash of old stories that have been told before. It also re-hased Bill James' stats stuff. Don't waste your money, unless you have never heard of any of these Hall of Famers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Great

    Thi book is good reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    fun read

    Shows you how political the hall of fame is. Quite unfare. I have long wondered why pete rose, the greatest hitter in baseball history is not in the hall?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 14, 2013

    Very Readable

    I ordered this book on my nook so that my husband could read it. I have been immersed in baseball because he as well as my father were great Mets fans, and before that, Giants and Dodger fans. I knew some of this, but learned much more. Zev Chafets writes from the viewpoint of a Jewish baseball writer, so he touches upon Jewish and other ethnic players. I was somewhat distracted by the many words which are printed with hypens, or just spaces. If you are a real fan, you should enjoy this, and be encouraged by it to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, if you have not been there before.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Highly recommend.

    Having been to the Hall several times, I found this book to be both enjoyable reading and entertaining.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    So what's controversial about Cooperstown? 'turns out the answer is "plenty".

    I haven't followed baseball since the great 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox. So I picked up "Cooperstown Confidential" on a whim, figuring "what could be controversial about Cooperstown?", with low expectations for a conventional read that would end up extolling what used to be America's past-time interspersed with a few interesting tidbits to keep me entertained. Surprise! The Cooperstown story is quintessentially American in ways I did not anticipate. Every chapter held surprises for me and changed my perspective on baseball as a game and as a business. The book wraps up with common sense suggestions that could, if adopted, profoundly change the face of professional sport and athletics in general.

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    Posted July 26, 2009

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