A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939

Overview

"The best book about a single baseball team in a single year I have ever read."—Donald Honig. Here is the story of perhaps the greatest team in baseball history and of one of the game’s most remarkable seasons. With Babe Ruth having retired but Lou Gehrig still in his prime, the Yankees in 1939 won their fourth consecutive World Series—and forever established the Yankee legend. The dramatic story of the 1939 season is one of turning points: Gehrig takes himself out of the lineup and is soon found to be terribly ill; Joe DiMaggio, the rising star
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Overview

"The best book about a single baseball team in a single year I have ever read."—Donald Honig. Here is the story of perhaps the greatest team in baseball history and of one of the game’s most remarkable seasons. With Babe Ruth having retired but Lou Gehrig still in his prime, the Yankees in 1939 won their fourth consecutive World Series—and forever established the Yankee legend. The dramatic story of the 1939 season is one of turning points: Gehrig takes himself out of the lineup and is soon found to be terribly ill; Joe DiMaggio, the rising star and replacement for Ruth, has perhaps his greatest year; baseball opens its Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York; the first major league baseball game is televised, and Yankee games are broadcast over the radio for the first time; night baseball comes to the American League. Richard Tofel has written an original work of history, based on considerable research. His compelling narrative includes a good many usually overlooked findings—for example, that players in 1939 were actually very well paid; that Manager Joe McCarthy pressed Gehrig to end his consecutive game streak as his health deteriorated; that baseball segregation in 1939 was not so much a Jim Crow system but simply out of mind in an atmosphere of casual bigotry; that McCarthy was perhaps the greatest manager in baseball history, and why. But the strength of Mr. Tofel's book lies in his serious treatment of the sport in its social and historical context. Baseball fans will find A Legend in the Making one of the finest baseball books of our time. With 12 black-and-white photographs.
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Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun - Paul Duke
Richard J. Tofel's A Legend in the Making wonderfully chronicles the 1939 Yankee team and Lou Gehrig's final days with the world champions.
The Wall Street Journal - Erich Eichman
Captures the heroics of a great team in its prime...wonderfully done.
Rob Neyer
Hallelujah! Finally, a great book about baseball's greatest team.
Ray Robinson
Meticulously researched...there isn't a nuance of that club that escapes Tofel's notice.
Donald Honig
A first-rate job...the best book about a single baseball team in a single year that I have ever read.
John Kuenster
A captivating read from start to finish.
Jules Tygiel
Tofel has captured both the legendary Yankees...and their era in an immensely readable narrative that brings the players and their world alive.
All-Baseball.Com Bronx Banter
Essential reading for any self-respecting Yankee fan.
Bronx Banter
Essential reading for any self-respecting Yankee fan.
Erich Eichman
Captures the heroics of a great team in its prime...wonderfully done.
Wall Street Journal
Allen Barra
This is a fan's book all the way, exuberant and unapologetic....Highly recommended to Yankee fans and haters alike.
Salon.com
Rob Neyer
Its terrific....After reading A Legend in the Making, I felt a hell of a lot smarter.
ESPN.com
From The Critics
A swift and engaging read from cover to cover, the most interesting new baseball book of the year.
Allen Barra
HISTORIAN
...A book that both dedicated aficionados and "serious" students of American baseball history will profit from reading.
Publishers Weekly
Tofel explains his decision to write about the 1939 Yankees by noting that in that year the team "was not yet the franchise we think of. But they were beginning to get there." It was in 1939 that the Yankees won their fourth straight World Series and eighth overall, firmly cementing their position as the winningest team in baseball history. But 1939 brought more than another championship to the Bronx. It was also the year that Lou Gehrig's consecutive game-playing streak came to an end; by mid-season the star first baseman would be diagnosed with ALS now known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Tofel, assistant to the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, follows the '39 season month by month, charting the hot streaks and slumps of individual players and the team as a whole, while also interweaving new developments regarding Gehrig. Tofel does a splendid job of capturing the different personalities of the '39 Yankees, a team that included such legendary players as a young Joe DiMaggio and catcher Bill Dickey and was coached by Joe McCarthy; all three would be elected to the Hall of Fame. And while Tofel is only partially successful in putting the team in the context of the developments of that eventful year, Yankee fans and baseball historians will undoubtedly enjoy this tale of one year in the building of the Yankee dynasty. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The Yankees will always remain one of the most popular teams. But the author makes the controversial argument that during the 1930s the Yankees were not thought of as the indisputable dynasty that they ultimately became. They had been repeat winners of World Series titles, but so had other great teams. In 1939, the Yankees, led by the young Joe DiMaggio, really etched a place in the history of baseball. This sweet, heavily anecdotal account will circulate well in library communities populated by Yankee fans. On Deck Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566635523
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 12/28/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,411,279
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard J. Tofel is president and chief operating officer of the new International Freedom Center, a museum of freedom and a cultural center to be built at the site of the World Trade Center. Formerly assistant publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tofel is a graduate of Harvard College, the Harvard Law School, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Since the publication of A Legend in the Making, Mr. Tofel has gone on to write Vanishing Point and Sounding the Trumpet, both published by Ivan R. Dee. He lives in Riverdale, New York.
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Table of Contents

Pre-game Warm-up: Preface ix
First Inning: Before 3
Second Inning: March 21
Third Inning: April 42
Fourth Inning: May 61
Fifth Inning: June 92
Sixth Inning: July 129
Seventh Inning: August 154
Eighth Inning: September 177
Ninth Inning: October 195
Post-game Report; After 217
Appendix The 1939 New York Yankees 229
Acknowledgments 231
Sources 235
Notes 241
Index 261
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2004

    Don't need to a Yankees fan to love this book

    Legend in the Making explores two subjects that needed highlighting -- the late 1930s Yankees (possibly the best team of all time)and the 1939 season. I've been waiting for someone to write about the 1939 season in detail. Gehrig retires, the Baseball Hall of Fame opens, Ted Williams comes on the scene -- it's all here. The author also takes the reader into the Yankees clubhouse and shows a team without the facade or heroes. Legend in the Making is one of the finest baseball books written.

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