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

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

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by Zev Chafets
     
 

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This penetrating, funny book reveals the inner workings of the Hall of Fame: the politics, the players, and the people who own and preserve it. From the history of the founding Clark family to a day on the town with the newly inducted Goose Gossage; from the battle over steroids to the economics of induction and secret campaigns by aspiring players, this is a

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Overview

This penetrating, funny book reveals the inner workings of the Hall of Fame: the politics, the players, and the people who own and preserve it. From the history of the founding Clark family to a day on the town with the newly inducted Goose Gossage; from the battle over steroids to the economics of induction and secret campaigns by aspiring players, this is a highly irreverent and highly entertaining tour through the life of an American institution. For anyone who cares about baseball, this is essential reading.

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)

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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

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608192106
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
05/25/2010
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
409,520
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.28(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
3 Months to 5 Years

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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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