You're Missin' a Great Game: From Casey to Ozzie, the Magic of Baseball and How to Get It Back

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"If, in the flood of baseball books coming out this spring, you don't read Herzog's, you're missin' a great book."--Chicago Tribune

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Overview

Baseball Rants And Raves from "one of the greatest minds ever involved in the National Pastime."--Chicago Daily Herald

"If, in the flood of baseball books coming out this spring, you don't read Herzog's, you're missin' a great book."--Chicago Tribune

"The gossip alone makes the book a must."--The Kansas City Star

"Herzog hits a home run...sheer fun to read."--The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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Editorial Reviews

Bill James
Herzog may not be a great thinker, but he does think about things....What [he] tugs on constantly...is: what is the nature of the problem, and what is our plan to solve it? Baseball is not ready to have that serious discussion yet....the best that anybody can do is to start thinking about the problems.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425174753
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Whitey Herzog played professional baseball for ten years, scouted and coached for ten more, then managed in the major leagues for fifteen seasons. Commandeering a go-for-broke style so distinctly energizing that writers dubbed it "Whiteyball," he led his teams to six division titles, three National Leaguepennants, and one World Championship (which should have been two). He lives in St. Louis with Mary Lou, his wife of forty-five years.

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Read an Excerpt

You're Missin' a Great Game


By Whitey Herzog

Berkley Publishing Group

Copyright © 2000 Whitey Herzog
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0425174751


Introduction


Straighten It Out

If you came to my house in south St. Louis County, grabbed a beer out of my Anheuser-Busch refrigerator -- it looks just like a six-foot can of Budweiser -- and sat down for a cold one, you'd notice something in my den that I enjoy a hell of a lot more than beer. I've saved a good wool baseball cap from every big-league organization I ever worked for. They're hanging on pegs, all in a row, right across the top of my bar. The room is filled with stuff I love being around -- black-and-white and color photos, plaques and pennants, drawings and lithographs, even uniforms I wore in my forty-plus-year career. Right on that wood-panelled wall is a picture of me with Casey Stengel -- the first mentor I had in the big leagues, and the best -- sitting on a Honda motorcycle. Casey scribbled something on there about me looking like Evel Knievel hurdling a canyon, but he spelled it 'hurtle;' the Perfesser never was too good with English. Above those glass doors is a shot of me in a rowboat with Jack Buck, the Hall of Fame broadcaster, spoofing Jaws in a Budweiser commercial everybody had a great time making. Everyone's on display here, from Ted Williams to Nolan Ryan to Harry Caray. It's a hell of a tour.

If there's anything I like most, it's the caps. There are, if you can believe it, ten of them.

By the time you finish hurtling through these reflections, you'll know what all those caps are, and there might even be one or two more before I'm through. They stand for a long life spent in a wonderful game -- travelling all over America, living in big cities and backwater towns, getting to know some of the damnedest people you could ever meet (including some of the craziest), matching wits with the best in the world at what you do year after year. They also stand for the different hats I've worn in the game -- as a player, a scout, a coach, a development man, a manager, a general manager, and a front-office guy. Talk about ways to find out what you're made of; the game's been that to me and then some, and I don't give a damn if you're a CEO or a car mechanic, you can't ask much more of your profession than that.

I'll be honest with you: A lot of things about the big-league scene today make me want to throw up. (I've turned down so many managing offers since I retired in 1994 I can't keep track of them all. Most would have made me the highest-paid manager in the history of the major leagues -- which is what I was when I left the St. Louis Cardinals in 1990 -- and top dollar for managers is three times what it was then.) But that doesn't change what a privilege it's been. I grew up a southern Illinois kid, worshipping that world from a long ways off -- a New Athens wiseacre who skipped school to hitchhike to games in St. Louis and see some of the best talent in the major leagues. Times would change in ways I could have never seen coming, and I ended up making more money than Williams, DiMaggio or Musial probably ever dreamed of. Sitting here with a cool drink -- I'm favoring Lite lately; I'm slimming down -- a glance at those caps makes the hops and barley taste just that much sweeter.

Now, when I was first wearing that blue cap of the Kansas City Royals, I had an outfielder on my spring roster named Willie Wilson. If you're a baseball fan, you've heard of him: rangy kid, good speed, stole a lot of bases. Hit for a high average when I managed him. Willie is a good person, but when I first saw him in our rookie camp, he had himself a big problem: He thought he was a power hitter. He had size -- he was 6-2, 6-3, weighed about 190 -- but I still don't understand what in the hell told him he had home-run pop in his bat. Even in the minors he hadn't gone deep much; the fly balls he hit just gave the outfielders a long way to run before the catch. Well, I watched Willie hit a few times, and it didn't take Connie Mack to figure out that swinging for the fences wasn't going to be his ticket to the Hall of Fame. He might hit his 12 homers, but the rest of the time he was going to make himself an out, kill our rallies, and put the Kansas City fans in a coma.

What Willie did have, though, was speed, and a home ballpark that favored speed. Royals Stadium -- now called Kauffman Stadium or "the K," for my ex-boss, the late Royals owner Ewing Kauffman -- had big dimensions, which made it even harder to hit the ball out, and fake turf that turned ground balls into states of emergency. With the wheels he had, if Willie'd just learn to switch-hit, beat the ball into the ground, and take off running, he'd be on base more often than Babe Ruth ate hot dogs. Now, even today, most good baseball people don't recognize what an edge it gives you just to get your guys on base, let alone speedsters like Willie. He doesn't have to hit home runs; just having him on base jacks up the odds you're going to score runs, and that raises the odds you'll win games. Then it becomes like compound interest: Game in and game out your edge adds up, and before you can say Jackie Robinson, you find your ass at the top of the standings.

One day in spring training I'd had enough, and I put it to him plain. I said, "Hey, man, do you want to play in Fort Myers all your life, or do you want to make it to the major leagues?" He looked a little put-upon, and I said, "I'll let you make that choice, but I'm gonna have Chuck Hiller in the cage tomorrow morning at eight o'clock" -- Chuck was going to be his batting coach -- "and if you want to learn to switch-hit, be here. If not, I don't give a damn." Let him try his Hank Aaron impersonation in Triple-A. I had a big-league team to run.

Boy, he didn't like that. Smoke was coming out of his ears. But next day, eight o'clock sharp, here comes Willie. He sets to work on grounders. A year later, his average jumps about a hundred points. Willie won a batting title, stole 83 bases one year, and led the league in hits and runs for an American League champion. The Royals played hard, heads-up ball, the kind I enjoy and that fans have always paid good money to see. They set Kansas City attendance records five years running. That's baseball like it oughta be.

I learned something important in Kansas City: Never finish second. We finished three games out in 1979, first time I hadn't won a division title in four years there, and just as I expected, old Ewing sacked my ass the minute the season was over. Well, a couple of years later, Willie figured he'd try the home-run thing again. It didn't work out too good. His run totals dropped, his hit totals fell, and he was never the same player. A manager's job is to look at the assets he's got, evaluate them, and get the most mileage out of them he can. In dealing with players, you have to ask yourself what each guy does best. Can this guy hit for power? Does that one have a good arm? You look at what each person does well and doesn't do well, then put him in situations that maximize his abilities. Don't ask him to do what he isn't good at; let him succeed with the talents he's got. He deserves that! It makes him feel a part of the team, it's good for the ballclub, it gets your different parts working together. It's also how you end up with a pennant in your back pocket and another year on your contract.

I'm leading things off with Willie because he reminds me of what's happening in baseball today. The game's had some good luck the last couple of years, like Mark McGwire's home-run chase with Sammy Sosa, which really has drawn a lot of fans and sparked interest. But it still has big problems -- bigger than it has any idea. You and I could sit here all day and bullshit about what they are and how to fix them. We all know what some of them are. But I'm telling you, a lot of the biggest problems, baseball ain't even talked about yet. Not too far down the line, that's going to cost us in a very, very big way.

The reason major-league baseball is so hard for me to watch today, and the reason some fans have had a hard time figuring out whether they still enjoy it or not, is simple. It's like Willie. It's a singles hitter trying to go deep every time up. I've never seen such uniformly horseshit baseball, such a lack of understanding of how to play the game or run it. I can't stand looking at it any more than I could stand there and watch Willie fly out to the warning track day after day. A singles hitter trying to go deep is not only going to fail at what you already knew he couldn't do, he's also going to forget how to do what he's actually good at. A lot of what's passing for baseball today is about as fun to watch as Willie popping up with a runner on third.

My whole career tells me that people love baseball, when they do love it, because it shows them a good, fair test of ingenuity and skill. What made it satisfying up until fifteen or twenty years ago was that it was the fairest test in all of sports. Every team played the same schedule; after 154 or 162 games, when your ballclub finished on top and played in the World Series, you knew you had one of the two best teams. Fans knew it, too. When they saw the October Classic, they knew how much the clubs had gone through to get there. Those teams had put all their baseball knowhow together and used their resources the best. A whole year's worth of big leaguers fighting for victories and jobs had weeded out everybody that hadn't. The rules put excellence at center stage.

Over the past ten or twenty years, that's changed. The rules on the field haven't changed much; if you'd gone to a game forty years ago and came to one now, you'd still know what was going on, something you can't say for some other big-time sports. But the situation off the field has changed so drastically that it's affected every other facet of the game. And three very, very big things have gone wrong.

First, if Willie Wilson were playing today, he wouldn't have to listen to Whitey Herzog. He could try to stuff my ass in a clubhouse trash can and he'd still be making $4 million a year in the big leagues. That's how many more teams there are now, how many more jobs, how much less talent there is relative to demand. Second, only two teams used to get to the big dance at the end, but so many clubs get in the playoffs now that the fans don't know whether they're seeing the best. In some divisions, you can barely top 500 and you'll win; someday we'll have a division champ with a losing record. When I managed the Cardinals against the Minnesota Twins all the way back in the 1987 World Series, Minnesota had the fifth-best record in the American League. They won the Western Division, but four ballclubs in the East -- all playing the same schedule as the Twins -- had more victories. I said so in the papers at the time, and they gave me so much hell you'd have thought I shot the pope. All you had to do was look at the standings; I was just saying it like it is! What did it tell fans that not only did Minnesota get in the Series, but proceeded to kick our ass around that lunatic Homerdome, where you can't see a pop fly or hear it come off the bat? Excellence got whiffed. It's only gotten worse since.

Third, everybody in the big leagues today knows, before a single pitch is thrown, that the teams in the smaller markets -- the Kansas Citys, Oaklands, Pittsburghs, and Montreals -- have no chance of competing for a pennant anymore. It ain't going to happen. The fans know it, the writers know it, the players know it. Those teams' budgets -- which only two years ago ranged from the Pirates' $9 million to maybe $20 million -- can't get them enough quality big leaguers to be competitive. What's worse, the rules we have in place prevent those teams from improving themselves and getting back in the hunt. How the Pirates, A's and Expos do on the field, even if they play to the absolute best of their abilities, makes no difference. And the Atlanta Braves, with their $65 or $70 million payroll? They can play lousy baseball day in and day out (as I have seen them do) and still win their division by eight to ten games. It doesn't matter if your scouts are sharp or stupid, if your manager is Humpty Dumpty or the second coming of John McGraw. Brains, hustle, and good, sharp play -- those don't matter. One thing matters and one thing only: money.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the last few World Series. Going back six or seven years now, I've never seen so many baserunning mistakes, botched throws, and mental screwups in my life. The showcase of the sport looks like eighteen monkeys making love to a football. If this is the best our game has to offer, why am I changing the channel to the NBA? And if the rules don't change, we'll never see a team in the big show again whose payroll isn't in the top five. That really came to pass in 1996, when the Braves ($65 million) and Yankees ($60 million) bought themselves a party. A year later the Florida (Blockbuster) Marlins got to play the big-budget Cleveland Indians. Both years, same thing: four-hour games, horseshit throws, teams kicking the ball all over the field. Somebody lost; that's all that proved.

Baseball's rules today don't promote what's best about the game: the fairness and integrity that give every team a chance to win if they use their abilities right. If there's no incentive to show the game respect, why should anybody? Would you? Good play is a lost art. Nobody's saying that or writing it anyplace, but I'm telling you, that's the biggest story in the sport. And unless we make some basic changes soon, it's going to get worse.

Things do look better than they did five years ago. In towns like Cleveland and Baltimore, where they have nice ballparks that respect the game's history, and where they can afford to pay for teams that are going to win, it's good. Players like Piazza, Griffey, McGwire, and Chipper Jones would have been standouts in any era. But you know what? I'm still thinking of that scene in the movie Titanic: The boat's clipped the iceberg, but nobody really knows it yet. The band's still playing, the chandeliers are up, the drinks are flowing. The man who built the ship checks the hull and tells everybody they're going to sink. They laugh it off. And before they know what hit 'em, they're all swimming in the North Atlantic.

I still see Willie Wilson sometimes, at banquets and reunions and so forth and, do you know, after all these years, that crazy sumbuck is still mad at me? God almighty, people are funny. He would never have made it to the big leagues his way! Well, if nobody talks to Willie now -- I mean if we let baseball stay the way it is -- it's going to keep swinging for the fences, popping up, killing rallies, and looking like hell. With a good manager, the game can be straightened out. But we have to get together, face the facts, and act before it's too late.

My profession is never going to solve its problems by shaking the ballparks with rock 'n' roll, juicing the ball, and bringing the fences in. All the 15-13 scores in the world ain't going to do it, and neither will letting every damn team with a winning record into the postseason. Beyond all the home-run hoopla we've been seeing, something else is going on: Lots of good fans are losing interest in the big leagues because it's a great game being played lousy -- and managed even worse.

Baseball still teaches the same things it always did, when we're smart enough to know the game and manage it right. I say, let's stop handing today's Willie Wilsons millions a year for fouling up their swings, misunderstanding the sport, and driving away the fans. Let's get some of the money out of it and some of the brains back in. Let's motivate people to excel. Let's get the National Pastime back.

I'm not wearing any of those caps anymore, at least for now. For the past few years, I've made do with a khaki fishing hat, but I've seen the game through its biggest changes and from every possible angle. I'm like the good third-base coach on a close play: He knows the game, he can see all the action in front of him, he's in the right place to wave that runner home or hold him up. I can see how the parts all fit. There are other guys out there, too, baseball men who know a line drive from a luxury box, and maybe they'll join the conversation. If the genius lawyers and salesmen and tax collectors running the game now want to listen, they can. If not, let 'em enjoy their swim. It's gonna be cold.

A lot of players, parents, and fans across America have yelled the title of this book at the men in blue. "Hey, ump!" they'll holler, "You're missin' a great game back there!" Well, baseball itself is a little nearsighted right now, and there ain't any harm in riding it some. Maybe we can be the bench jockeys.

So have a beer, if you like, as we talk about what really makes this game the National Pastime. Meet everybody from Casey to the Splendid Splinter, from Tom Seaver to Ozzie Smith. Try on a few caps and see if they fit. Just do me a favor: When we're done, hang 'em back up on the wall. It's too much fun remembering how they got there in the first place.

Continues...


Excerpted from You're Missin' a Great Game by Whitey Herzog Copyright © 2000 by Whitey Herzog. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Tra-la-la

I'll never forget the first spring training game in 1956, my rookie year. I had come up through the New York Yankee organization, and we were about to play the Dodgers in an exhibition down in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mickey Mantle got sick before the ballgame, and our manager, Casey Stengel, never one to do things the hard way, decided not to change the whole lineup around. He just crossed out Mickey's name and wrote mine in the third spot: H-E-R-Z-O-G. Now, I had no more business hitting third for the great New York Yankees than the hot-dog vendor in Section C, but I wasn't going to pull Mr. Stengel aside and say, "I don't know if I'm ready, Sir." He was a legend. The Yankees were a legend. It was one of those times you just sharpen up your spikes, take your best shot, and live with the consequences.

Well, Carl Erskine was pitching for the Dodgers that day, and he was known throughout baseball for a breaking ball that swooped down on you like a falcon on a chipmunk. In those days, they threw you the curve till you proved you could hit it -- which I can tell you flat-out, I hadn't -- so it didn't take a genius to know what was coming down the pipe. My first time up, Carl broke off a hammer on a 3-2 count -- snapped the damn thing right off -- and I took it for strike three. Never even moved the bat. Welcome to the big show.

Next time I come up, my ass is still a little red, and this time the bases are loaded and the game's on the line. And I'm getting ready to leave the dugout, swinging my two bats a little bit, when Stengel summons me over to him. For some reason I still don't understand, Casey was always singling me out for spene time, and he puts a big hand on my shoulder. I look into that creased-up face, and he says, "See what I told you, Doctor? Just tra-la-la." And he wanders off, shaking his head.

A great teacher leaves you to translate for yourself, and Casey, with that mumbo jumbo of his, sure fit that bill. At the moment, all I'm thinking about is that I damn near knocked in some runs and won the game, but now I've got this to chew on, too. As I'm trotting out to center field, still turning it over in my mind -- maybe it was then, maybe later; it's hard to know -- it comes to me. Sometimes it really is better just to go up there and relax. Swing easy, put it in play. It's what the big power hitters tell you: It's when they ain't trying for homers that the ball jumps out of the park. Just meet it and let something happen. Tra-la-la.

As time passed in my career, I realized Casey had left my mind full of nuggets like that: little ideas on fielding, hitting, approaches to baseball, every one of 'em essential to understanding it right and clean as a well-hit ball. It's still for bigger minds than mine to understand how a man can invent his own language, or why he might think to do it in the first place, but Casey did. And I finally figured out that spring that even though I had no idea what the hell he was talking about half the time, when Casey Stengel came up to me and started spewing that "Stengelese," he was offering me an education. I turned into a world-class translator, boy, and it's a good thing: If I hadn't been, my life would have turned out a whole lot different.

I first met Casey in 1955, when I came to the early camp with the Yankees that they used to call rookie school. I was a young centerfielder, and I was full of piss and vinegar and other nasty concoctions. The Yankees had given me a bigger signing bonus than they'd given that kid from Oklahoma, Mr. Mantle, and I figured that was about right. I had good speed and a strong bat, I knew the game, I was a hell of a handsome devil, and I knew I was bound to be a big-league ballplayer and a big shot or go broke trying. Yankee Stadium seemed like as good a place as any. Even though I grew up in a little Illinois town not forty miles from St. Louis -- the heart of Cardinals territory -- the Yanks had always been the team I dreamed about, the one I wanted to play for. I don't know if young players today have a clue how the very idea of Yankee Stadium, with its facade and monuments and history, used to mesmerize anybody who gave a damn about the game, but it did. That's me: only the best. Well, I'd taken the bus with a buddy of mine to Branson, Missouri in 1949 -- back then, they had a lot more trees than they had theaters -- and, after a tryout there, signed a minor-league contract. I got to rookie school six years later.

My first impressions of Casey were like a lot of other people's. He looked like maybe he'd just combed the straw out of his hair. His ears were so damn big that if they'd had jumbo jets back then, he'd have slowed 'em to a crawl. So much doubletalk flowed out of his craw you weren't sure his parents had raised him in English. That, plus the fact he later happened to manage some of the most talented teams ever assembled, still has people in baseball thinking Casey was some clown who fell asleep on a turnip truck and woke up one day in the Hall of Fame. How was I supposed to realize I was looking at the most intelli gent man I'd ever know?

Casey ran that camp like an old schoolmaster, hammering away at the sport's little details that, as I learned, make the difference between winning and losing games, between a good club and a great one. Like the best teachers, he gave you the big picture in little doses, and he was flashing 'em to you all the time, like a good catcher with his signs. If you were smart and gave it enough thought, you learned them all and eventually saw how they fit together. That's the same as saying you learned baseball. I became a good manager in my time, and I hope a pretty good baseball man, and I can tell you right now that what Casey taught that spring, I used my entire career. I still do.

It was amazing how he talked to you. You're heading out to hit: "Butcher-boy, butcher-boy," he'd say. You're thinking, "What?" Well, he wants you to fake a bunt and chop it on the ground, see? Get it through the infield and get on base. Surprise 'em a little. Nobody'd ever used that term before. Or you're standing on second base in practice, minding your own business, maybe thinking just how wonderful it is that you got there in the first place, and suddenly he's behind you: "You're important to me, young fella; you're half a run." One day he comes up to me, jabs me with a finger and says, "I'm gonna tell you one thing; never worry about gettin' fired, 'cause if you don't own the ballclub or die on the job, it's gonna happen." He was talking about managing. I don't know why he picked me to say that to -- I was just a wiseass kid -- but when I took up that line of work myself years later, I never forgot those words. First of all, they were a kind of history lesson: Connie Mack had managed the Philade lphia Athletics for fifty years, a record that's going to stand forever. Why? The man owned the team. His job evaluations were pretty good. But more than that, Casey was right: You only control so much in this game, so why worry about it? Remembering that frees up your mind so you can do your job the right way.

Casey invented the whole idea of rookie school, just as he was the guy who invented the fall instructional leagues we have today. The Yankees would take their top prospects down to Florida for two weeks before the major-league camp opened, then invite some of them to stay on at the big camp. Rookie school. I'll never forget my first time there.

On the first day, Casey stood in front of us, leaning on a fungo bat, and explained what he tried to do as manager. He said it like this: "Mr. Lopez has a team over there in Cleveland that's pretty good" -- he was talking about Al Lopez, the Indians' manager, and they had a damn good team -- "and he's got them good pitchers over there, and I know they're gonna win 92 games. And I think about it, and I've got Mr. Raschi, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Page" -- he meant Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, and Joe Page, three of his outstanding pitchers -- "and I think that we can win 92 games. And now I've gotta figure out how I can win three more. And so I'm gonna hit this ball against that wall, and I'm going to teach you how to get it off the wall," and then how to do this and that other little thing that could win you those extra games. That's what he taught; he always said the other guy's team had the ability to win 92 games, and we've got the ability, so we've got to try and win three more. That was the approach he took.

And Casey broke it down into the hundred little things that would make the difference. He was going to have his team get from third to home faster than the other team by getting a better jump off third base. He was going to teach you how to take the proper lead off the bases -- not "the right way" or "the wrong way," but the Stengel way, the way he wanted it done -- so you'd have that little edge. He kept drilling you on those things and drilling you till you could practically do them in your sleep. Once I began coaching and managing, I kept passing them along to my own players, to everybody from the youngest rookie-league bush-whackers to the George Bretts, Ozzie Smiths, and Vince Colemans of the world. To this day, if I went by the park to watch my grandkids play and the coach asked me to help with their baserunning, I would show them Casey's way, how Casey wanted it done.

What he was showing you was that baseball, when it's played right, is made up of a lot of smaller plays, and each one gives you an edge if you work at it. It's also a game of large samples: Over 154 or 162 games, the little things accumulate and pile up and turn into big ones. That's the game's most essential fact. It's a game of percentages, and any way you can tilt the wheel your way a little, you do. Casey tilted it one degree here, another one there, till the ball just seemed to roll the Yankees' way and you looked up in August and saw New York right where they always seemed to be, at the top of the standings looking down. Writers and fans hardly ever notice these little things, and you hardly ever hear anybody mention 'em, but they decide championships. No good club ever won a thing without 'em.

Take baserunning. Today, people think of it in t erms of stolen bases alone, but that's bull, and Casey understood that. He was passionate on the subject to the point of being a nut, and he taught it better than anybody I ever saw. Thinking ahead was part of it. He told you to check out the defense before you came to bat; instead of looking at the girls in the stands when you were on deck -- something ballplayers have always been tempted to do -- look at the outfielders. The leftfielder, for example. Does he throw left-handed? If he does, you've got an edge. If you hit it right down the line, you know he has to turn his back to the diamond to pick it up. To throw to second, he has to turn back around and come across his body with the ball. That gives you a little extra time, and it means if you hustle a little bit, you can turn a single into a double. Same thing if the rightfielder is right-handed. Play in and play out, the Yankees made hay out of situations like that. They could run the bases like nobody else -- not steal bases, run 'em -- and it added up to runs, and runs added up to leads, and leads added up to those three extra wins Casey wanted.

On defense, too, the little things counted. Say the Indians have a guy on first. Then let's say the next batter gets a base hit to right. Now: The rightfielder wants to come up throwing so he can hold that lead runner at second. That way, he'll keep a force play in effect. You or I would think in terms of which base to throw it to: Do I go to second or third? Well, Casey would say, "Never throw to the wrong base, keep the double play in order." But he took it a step further. On relay throws, he talked about which side of the fielder to throw it on. In his mind, it was easier for a fielder to move fifteen feet to his glove side his left than to move one foot to his right on a relay. That way, he could glove that ball out of the air, turn, and fire in one motion. But if it's to his throwing right side, he's got to reach across, catch it, and turn awkwardly across his body before he throws. A good runner takes advantage of that every time, and that might mean a run, an extended inning, a game. For the Yankees, Casey made it automatic: Never throw to a shortstop or second baseman's right. I'd never seen a manager take the time to explain it like that, and I never would again.

On the offensive side, Casey didn't just holler at you to score runs; he taught you how. During batting practice, after you'd hit, he made you stay on the bases when the next guy came up. He'd drill you on your jumps off the bag. As you know, when you're on third, if the batter puts it in the air, you can't leave till the ball is caught; on a grounder, you can take off right away. Casey pounded the difference into your head. On contact, you practiced your jump. Fly ball, back; ground ball, go! You did it again and again till you got so damn good at it you could watch the flight of the ball from the pitcher's hand and know before the hitter swung if it'd be on the ground or not. In games, if Casey had the "go" threat on, you scored. Years later, Gene Mauch, one of my American League managing rivals, asked me, "How come your teams get from third to home faster than anybody I ever saw?" I told him, "We work at it." I never told him how we worked at it. It ain't my fault he never went to camp with Casey.

I ended up in a lot of camps with good managers -- the Harry Crafts, t he Charlie Dressens, the Paul Richards -- and no one else ever broke the game down the way Casey did. When I think back, it was like learning physics: The field is ruled by properties you can't see, but those properties make everything happen that you can see. Only the best teachers know the laws and have the sense to make them clear to the young and the brainless. In Casey, I had an Einstein.

History tells us Casey won 1,905 ballgames, and that his Yankees won ten World Series championships in a twelve-year span. Nobody will ever do that again, not in this age of free agency and the draft. But the thing is, he's still never gotten his due. When George Weiss, the Yankee GM, first brought him in to replace Bucky Harris in 1949, everybody in New York and around baseball thought it was a joke. Here was this backwoods clown who'd managed for years in the big leagues -- with the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers, truly terrible teams -- and had a record so far below .500 nobody ever thought he'd see the light of day. A guy so bumbling he'd been exiled to Oakland for five years, where he managed in the Pacific Coast League in the prime of his career. Add the fact that he jabbered like some lunatic bumpkin who fell off a hay wagon, and the writers were laughing their asses off before he ever got to Yankee Stadium. They figured they'd get a real manager soon.

Well, don't believe everything you hear. Most people didn't know baseball then, just like they don't now, but Casey knew exactly what he was doing. For one thing, you should've seen the players he'd had with the Braves and Giants. I mean, you can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit; I don't care if you're the Galloping Gourmet. It remi nds me of what happened to Jim Riggleman and the Cubs in '97, when they set a record by losing their first 14 games and never crawled out of that hole. I felt sorry for Riggleman. He kept putting Mel Rojas into games. They'd just gotten the guy from the Expos, big free-agent deal. I called him up and said, "Rig, I wouldn't put him in the game with a five-run lead! Oh, my -- he's gonna get your ass fired!" He started laughing. I said, "I only called you 'cause I like you, but you keep putting him in there, you're gonna be looking for a job!" But if you've traded for a guy who's been a great relief pitcher, and if he goes bad, you say, "Well, we ain't going to win if he doesn't do the job we expected him to do." So you keep strapping him out there, and you keep losing, and the next thing you know, you're fired! The worst thing that can happen to a manager is if your closer goes in a slump. That gets you dumb in a hurry.

With Casey, his first couple years with New York, the talent he had was mediocre, yet he still found a way to win. Injuries killed them his first two seasons. DiMaggio missed a lot of games and had to be replaced -- one year by a rookie from Joplin, Mantle, who was still plenty raw. In fact, the Yankees weren't favored to win the pennant in any of the first five years they went to the World Series under Stengel. Casey didn't always have the best damn team in that league.

All that time, from the early days on, Casey was learning. And he always knew the basic thing: Baseball is supposed to be a hell of a good time. That's smarter than you think. One day in Pittsburgh, the fans are booing him when he comes to the plate. So he takes some action. In a big sweeping motion, he bows at the waist and doffs his cap. Big deal, right? Well, you know what happens? A bird flies out. All of a sudden they're cheering and rolling in the aisles. They thought Casey was out of his mind. People say that story's a myth, but I knew the man, and I'm telling you, that's the truth. He was a showman, boy, a carnival barker; he knew if you kept 'em laughing, they'd forget how rotten your team was and keep coming to the ballpark. When you were around Casey Stengel, you had a good time or died trying.

Casey's father was a Kansas City dentist, and Casey himself went to dental school. That takes some skullwork. He was going to follow in dad's footsteps, in fact, but it's probably a good thing he didn't. I say that not only because Casey was a hell of a hitter and a ballplayer, but because he knew that, in baseball anyway, you could think too much for your own good. One time when he was managing the Mets in '62 -- the worst team that ever played -- his pitcher gave up a couple hits in a row, so they needed to get somebody up in the bullpen. Casey snatched up the phone and called down there, and everybody heard him holler, "Get Miller up!" Pitching coach said, "Okay." Well, as it happened, Casey had two pitchers on his staff named Miller. Both of 'em were Bob Miller, as a matter of fact: One was a right-hander, one a left-hander. A couple moments later, the phone was ringing. It was the coach. "Hey, Casey, which Miller you want?" You know what Stengel told him? Two words: "Surprise me!" Can you believe that? Surprise him. This sonofagun's in the Hall of Fame!

You'd think that kind of thing would cause chaos, but in baseball it can work. This game drops worries on you that can haunt you twenty-four hours a day -- What if I move my foot back a little? What did he throw me on 2-2 last week? -- and if you let them, they'll drive you up the wall. Like I told the Jack Clarks and Darrell Porters years later, squeeze the bat too hard, you get sawdust. Having a laugh ain't a sidelight in baseball; it's essential. That's why so many good baseball people can tell a hell of a joke. They might change the details on you from one time to the next, but every time you hear that story, man, if it makes you laugh, it's true.

Stengel made that part of his life. He thrived on staying up, talking with the writers till four in the morning night after night. I never saw anybody, even the legendary Mantle, who could drink like Casey; he was strong, that man. He'd keep 'em laughing and spewing their food and clapping him on the back all night. Like he said, "Give 'em your own story, 'cause if you don't, they're just gonna go ahead and make up their own, and what good'll that do ya?" Then he'd reel off some more whoppers. Then there was his other motto for dealing with the press: "When they ask you a question," he said, "answer it and just keep on talkin'. That way they can't ask you another one." He had a hell of a good time, but if you paid attention, you knew you were looking at a man who was running the show his way.

That was just part of handling the press. When I became a manager, I was like Casey: I really enjoyed the print media, the writers that followed us for the whole season. It was the TV people who pissed me off. They'd show up at the end of the year -- guys we ain't seen all season -- jamming microphones in my face while I'm trying to eat a ham sandwic h, asking the dumbest damn questions: "How's the chemistry on the ballclub right now?" "Is this a do-or-die series. Chemistry and do-or-die, my ass. Like Casey told me, the newspaper guy can edit out a well-timed "sonofabitch" whenever he wants, but you can't erase it from film. So maybe you let one slip: "I don't know how that fuckin' McGee does it, Ronnie, do you?" "Sonofabitch really got them out of a jam, didn't he?" Or what if they're filming me and I scratch myself in some disagreeable spot? Think they're going to show that on the eleven o'clock news? Most of the time, dealing with the press is a kick, but sometimes you have to train people to treat you right. Casey did.

Being dense was Casey's brand of genius. He had trouble with names: he'd call you doctor, or the fella from Cleveland, or No. 39 if that was on the back of your shirt, or whatever else stuck in his mind. That was all he could remember. Before one Opening Day with the Mets, he's in the clubhouse introducing his starting lineup, and he says, "I've got the guy from Philadelphia" -- he was talking about the late Richie Ashburn, who'd played for the Phillies for years and is now in the Hall of Fame -- "and I got the guy from Minnesota," and so on down the line till he gets to the bottom of the order. He arrives at the spot for his rightfielder, but he can't think of who it is. So he just keeps rambling on -- he'd just talk till something came to him; it was how he lubricated his brain -- and everybody's bent over trying not to laugh, because they know damn well Casey just can't think of the guy's name.

There was a buzzer in the clubhouse that sounded when it was time to take the field. Finally it goes off, and it was like a bel l to him. And it comes to him; that's the guy: Gus Bell. "And my starting right-fielder is Mr. Bell." Everybody's jaw dropped. Casey was so clueless the answers just dropped out of the sky.

No question Casey was a great manager, a great mind, the greatest spokesman baseball ever had; definitely the favorite manager of the writers everywhere. But I used to think he'd almost lose a few games on purpose just to keep the race close, so they'd draw more people. Once I saw him fall asleep on the bench. I was with the Senators. Whitey Ford was pitching, and he was sailing along with a 2-1 lead, and I swear Casey nodded off! We could see it from our dugout. Well, we got five straight hits and he still didn't have anybody warming up. Finally, Frank Crosetti woke his ass up, and he got somebody up in the bullpen. I think they beat us 18 out of 22 that year; that was one of the games we won.

Well, as I said, I still don't know why Casey singled me out as his bobo. After all, that field was full of great ballplayers: Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Joe Collins, Johnny Mize. It was like a wing of the Hall of Fame. He just seemed to like me. Or maybe it was just that he'd had a third baseman, Buck Herzog, with the Giants a few years back, and was glad he could remember the damn name. Maybe he just realized I was listening to him; a good teacher does like to have a good student. I doubt if he realized I would be a manager someday, but since he always knew more than he let on -- not to mention more than you did -- who knows? All I know is that even after he shipped my ass to the Senators -- "Have a good year over there and I'll get you back," he said, though neither of us held up our end of the bargain - - Casey always saw fit, whenever the Yankees came to my hometown, to seek me out at the batting cage, stand me in front of him, and shoot the shit. Later on, when I was a Mets coach in the mid-sixties and he still was a consultant with the team, he'd even wander over when I was running minor-league camp, pull up a chair while I was hitting ground balls, and go on and on about this kid or that one. He'd keep me from doing my work! But I'll be damned if I was ever dumb enough to run him off the field. I never stopped picking his brain.

Well, I'll never forget the day in 1975, when Casey was eighty-five and retired, and he drove all the way down to Anaheim Stadium from his home in Glendale. That's about a ninety-minute drive. I was an Angels coach at the time, under Dick Williams, and Casey and I sat in the dugout for a couple of hours and slung the bull about Nolan Ryan, Bill Singer, Frank Tanana, and our other pitchers. Frankly, he didn't like some of 'em too good. We said goodbye.

A month later, he was dead. Baseball hasn't been the same since, and you know what? I haven't either.

Casey had the basics hard-wired into his brain: The game's fun; human beings play it; baseball is a craft; the better you do, the more fun you have, and vice versa, These are the ABC's of my game, and Casey Stengel lived 'em to the hilt every day. That's what made him the best ambassador baseball ever had. Too bad the game, with the billions running through it today, has forgotten every last one of them.

Screwed-up as the big-league scene has been over the last several years, that man might make a difference even today. It's hard to say. I can tell you that if you'd seen the Runnin' Redbirds -- my Cardinal t eams of the eighties -- and didn't know any more about it, you'd be surprised as hell to learn the Perfesser was my mentor. After all, he ran the mighty Yankees, the swaggering sluggers every kid worshipped: Yogi, Mantle, Roger Maris. They had thunder in those bats. My teams stole bases and couldn't hit the ball out in batting practice. His guys shattered home run records; mine tried to tie Roger's mark of 61 each year -- as a team. But what people don't realize is that those New York teams, as many balls as they mashed off the Yankee Stadium facade, weren't primarily a home-run ballclub. They based their dynasty on being the best defensive team and best baserunning team in the league. Like all great clubs, Casey's Yanks understood something our game has just about forgotten: that baseball, more than anything else, is a game of intelligence, craft, and doing the little things right.

Copyright © 1999 by Whitey Herzog and Jonathan Pitts

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Introduction

Introduction

Straighten It Out

If you came to my house in south St. Louis County, grabbed a beer out of my Anheuser-Busch refrigerator -- it looks just like a six-foot can of Budweiser -- and sat down for a cold one, you'd notice something in my den that I enjoy a hell of a lot more than beer. I've saved a good wool baseball cap from every big-league organization I ever worked for. They're hanging on pegs, all in a row, right across the top of my bar. The room is filled with stuff I love being around -- black-and-white and color photos, plaques and pennants, drawings and lithographs, even uniforms I wore in my forty-plus-year career. Right on that wood-panelled wall is a picture of me with Casey Stengel -- the first mentor I had in the big leagues, and the best -- sitting on a Honda motorcycle. Casey scribbled something on there about me looking like Evel Knievel hurdling a canyon, but he spelled it 'hurtle;' the Perfesser never was too good with English. Above those glass doors is a shot of me in a rowboat with Jack Buck, the Hall of Fame broadcaster, spoofing Jaws in a Budweiser commercial everybody had a great time making. Everyone's on display here, from Ted Williams to Nolan Ryan to Harry Caray. It's a hell of a tour.

If there's anything I like most, it's the caps. There are, if you can believe it, ten of them.

By the time you finish hurtling through these reflections, you'll know what all those caps are, and there might even be one or two more before I'm through. They stand for a long life spent in a wonderful game -- travelling all over America, living in big cities and backwater towns, getting to know some of the damnedest people you could everhen I managed him. Willie is a good person, but when I first saw him in our rookie camp, he had himself a big problem: He thought he was a power hitter. He had size -- he was 6-2, 6-3, weighed about 190 -- but I still don't understand what in the hell told him he had home-run pop in his bat. Even in the minors he hadn't gone deep much; the fly balls he hit just gave the outfielders a long way to run before the catch. Well, I watched Willie hit a few times, and it didn't take Connie Mack to figure out that swinging for the fences wasn't going to be his ticket to the Hall of Fame. He might hit his 12 homers, but the rest of the time he was going to make himself an out, kill our rallies, and put the Kansas City fans in a coma.

What Willie did have, though, was speed, and a home ballpark that favored speed. Royals Stadium -- now called Kauffman Stadium or "the K," for my ex-boss, the late Royals owner Ewing Kauffman -- had big dimensions, which made it even harder to hit the ball out, and fake turf that turned ground balls into states of emergency. With the wheels he had, if Willie'd just learn to switch-hit, beat the ball into the ground, and take off running, he'd be on base more often than Babe Ruth ate hot dogs. Now, even today, most good baseball people don't recognize what an edge it gives you just to get your guys on base, let alone speedsters like Willie. He doesn't have to hit home runs; just having him on base jacks up the odds you're going to score runs, and that raises the odds you'll win games. Then it becomes like compound interest: Game in and game out your edge adds up, and before you can say Jackie Robinson, you find your ass at the top of the standings.

OOne day in spring training I'd had enough, and I put it to him plain. I said, "Hey, man, do you want to play in Fort Myers all your life, or do you want to make it to the major leagues?" He looked a little put-upon, and I said, "I'll let you make that choice, but I'm gonna have Chuck Hiller in the cage tomorrow morning at eight o'clock" -- Chuck was going to be his batting coach -- "and if you want to learn to switch-hit, be here. If not, I don't give a damn." Let him try his Hank Aaron impersonation in Triple-A. I had a big-league team to run.

Boy, he didn't like that. Smoke was coming out of his ears. But next day, eight o'clock sharp, here comes Willie. He sets to work on grounders. A year later, his average jumps about a hundred points. Willie won a batting title, stole 83 bases one year, and led the league in hits and runs for an American League champion. The Royals played hard, heads-up ball, the kind I enjoy and that fans have always paid good money to see. They set Kansas City attendance records five years running. That's baseball like it oughta be.

I learned something important in Kansas City: Never finish second. We finished three games out in 1979, first time I hadn't won a division title in four years there, and just as I expected, old Ewing sacked my ass the minute the season was over. Well, a couple of years later, Willie figured he'd try the home-run thing again. It didn't work out too good. His run totals dropped, his hit totals fell, and he was never the same player. A manager's job is to look at the assets he's got, evaluate them, and get the most mileage out of them he can. In dealing with players, you have to ask yourself what each guy does best. Can this guy h it for power? Does that one have a good arm? You look at what each person does well and doesn't do well, then put him in situations that maximize his abilities. Don't ask him to do what he isn't good at; let him succeed with the talents he's got. He deserves that! It makes him feel a part of the team, it's good for the ballclub, it gets your different parts working together. It's also how you end up with a pennant in your back pocket and another year on your contract.

I'm leading things off with Willie because he reminds me of what's happening in baseball today. The game's had some good luck the last couple of years, like Mark McGwire's home-run chase with Sammy Sosa, which really has drawn a lot of fans and sparked interest. But it still has big problems -- bigger than it has any idea. You and I could sit here all day and bullshit about what they are and how to fix them. We all know what some of them are. But I'm telling you, a lot of the biggest problems, baseball ain't even talked about yet. Not too far down the line, that's going to cost us in a very, very big way.

The reason major-league baseball is so hard for me to watch today, and the reason some fans have had a hard time figuring out whether they still enjoy it or not, is simple. It's like Willie. It's a singles hitter trying to go deep every time up. I've never seen such uniformly horseshit baseball, such a lack of understanding of how to play the game or run it. I can't stand looking at it any more than I could stand there and watch Willie fly out to the warning track day after day. A singles hitter trying to go deep is not only going to fail at what you already knew he couldn't do, he's also going to forget how to do wh at he's actually good at. A lot of what's passing for baseball today is about as fun to watch as Willie popping up with a runner on third.

My whole career tells me that people love baseball, when they do love it, because it shows them a good, fair test of ingenuity and skill. What made it satisfying up until fifteen or twenty years ago was that it was the fairest test in all of sports. Every team played the same schedule; after 154 or 162 games, when your ballclub finished on top and played in the World Series, you knew you had one of the two best teams. Fans knew it, too. When they saw the October Classic, they knew how much the clubs had gone through to get there. Those teams had put all their baseball knowhow together and used their resources the best. A whole year's worth of big leaguers fighting for victories and jobs had weeded out everybody that hadn't. The rules put excellence at center stage.

Over the past ten or twenty years, that's changed. The rules on the field haven't changed much; if you'd gone to a game forty years ago and came to one now, you'd still know what was going on, something you can't say for some other big-time sports. But the situation off the field has changed so drastically that it's affected every other facet of the game. And three very, very big things have gone wrong.

First, if Willie Wilson were playing today, he wouldn't have to listen to Whitey Herzog. He could try to stuff my ass in a clubhouse trash can and he'd still be making $4 million a year in the big leagues. That's how many more teams there are now, how many more jobs, how much less talent there is relative to demand. Second, only two teams used to get to the big dance at the end, but so many clubs get in the playoffs now that the fans don't know whether they're seeing the best. In some divisions, you can barely top 500 and you'll win; someday we'll have a division champ with a losing record. When I managed the Cardinals against the Minnesota Twins all the way back in the 1987 World Series, Minnesota had the fifth-best record in the American League. They won the Western Division, but four ballclubs in the East -- all playing the same schedule as the Twins -- had more victories. I said so in the papers at the time, and they gave me so much hell you'd have thought I shot the pope. All you had to do was look at the standings; I was just saying it like it is! What did it tell fans that not only did Minnesota get in the Series, but proceeded to kick our ass around that lunatic Homerdome, where you can't see a pop fly or hear it come off the bat? Excellence got whiffed. It's only gotten worse since.

Third, everybody in the big leagues today knows, before a single pitch is thrown, that the teams in the smaller markets -- the Kansas Citys, Oaklands, Pittsburghs, and Montreals -- have no chance of competing for a pennant anymore. It ain't going to happen. The fans know it, the writers know it, the players know it. Those teams' budgets -- which only two years ago ranged from the Pirates' $9 million to maybe $20 million -- can't get them enough quality big leaguers to be competitive. What's worse, the rules we have in place prevent those teams from improving themselves and getting back in the hunt. How the Pirates, A's and Expos do on the field, even if they play to the absolute best of their abilities, makes no difference. And the Atlanta Braves, with t heir $65 or $70 million payroll? They can play lousy baseball day in and day out (as I have seen them do) and still win their division by eight to ten games. It doesn't matter if your scouts are sharp or stupid, if your manager is Humpty Dumpty or the second coming of John McGraw. Brains, hustle, and good, sharp play -- those don't matter. One thing matters and one thing only: money.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the last few World Series. Going back six or seven years now, I've never seen so many baserunning mistakes, botched throws, and mental screwups in my life. The showcase of the sport looks like eighteen monkeys making love to a football. If this is the best our game has to offer, why am I changing the channel to the NBA? And if the rules don't change, we'll never see a team in the big show again whose payroll isn't in the top five. That really came to pass in 1996, when the Braves ($65 million) and Yankees ($60 million) bought themselves a party. A year later the Florida (Blockbuster) Marlins got to play the big-budget Cleveland Indians. Both years, same thing: four-hour games, horseshit throws, teams kicking the ball all over the field. Somebody lost; that's all that proved.

Baseball's rules today don't promote what's best about the game: the fairness and integrity that give every team a chance to win if they use their abilities right. If there's no incentive to show the game respect, why should anybody? Would you? Good play is a lost art. Nobody's saying that or writing it anyplace, but I'm telling you, that's the biggest story in the sport. And unless we make some basic changes soon, it's going to get worse.

Things do look better than they did five yea rs ago. In towns like Cleveland and Baltimore, where they have nice ballparks that respect the game's history, and where they can afford to pay for teams that are going to win, it's good. Players like Piazza, Griffey, McGwire, and Chipper Jones would have been standouts in any era. But you know what? I'm still thinking of that scene in the movie Titanic: The boat's clipped the iceberg, but nobody really knows it yet. The band's still playing, the chandeliers are up, the drinks are flowing. The man who built the ship checks the hull and tells everybody they're going to sink. They laugh it off. And before they know what hit 'em, they're all swimming in the North Atlantic.

I still see Willie Wilson sometimes, at banquets and reunions and so forth and, do you know, after all these years, that crazy sumbuck is still mad at me? God almighty, people are funny. He would never have made it to the big leagues his way! Well, if nobody talks to Willie now -- I mean if we let baseball stay the way it is -- it's going to keep swinging for the fences, popping up, killing rallies, and looking like hell. With a good manager, the game can be straightened out. But we have to get together, face the facts, and act before it's too late.

My profession is never going to solve its problems by shaking the ballparks with rock 'n' roll, juicing the ball, and bringing the fences in. All the 15-13 scores in the world ain't going to do it, and neither will letting every damn team with a winning record into the postseason. Beyond all the home-run hoopla we've been seeing, something else is going on: Lots of good fans are losing interest in the big leagues because it's a great game being played lousy -- and managed even worse.

Baseball still teaches the same things it always did, when we're smart enough to know the game and manage it right. I say, let's stop handing today's Willie Wilsons millions a year for fouling up their swings, misunderstanding the sport, and driving away the fans. Let's get some of the money out of it and some of the brains back in. Let's motivate people to excel. Let's get the National Pastime back.

I'm not wearing any of those caps anymore, at least for now. For the past few years, I've made do with a khaki fishing hat, but I've seen the game through its biggest changes and from every possible angle. I'm like the good third-base coach on a close play: He knows the game, he can see all the action in front of him, he's in the right place to wave that runner home or hold him up. I can see how the parts all fit. There are other guys out there, too, baseball men who know a line drive from a luxury box, and maybe they'll join the conversation. If the genius lawyers and salesmen and tax collectors running the game now want to listen, they can. If not, let 'em enjoy their swim. It's gonna be cold.

A lot of players, parents, and fans across America have yelled the title of this book at the men in blue. "Hey, ump!" they'll holler, "You're missin' a great game back there!" Well, baseball itself is a little nearsighted right now, and there ain't any harm in riding it some. Maybe we can be the bench jockeys.

So have a beer, if you like, as we talk about what really makes this game the National Pastime. Meet everybody from Casey to the Splendid Splinter, from Tom Seaver to Ozzie Smith. Try on a few caps and see if they fit. Just do me a favor: When we're done, hang 'em back up on the wall. It's t oo much fun remembering how they got there in the first place.

Copyright © 1999 by Whitey Herzog and Jonathan Pitts

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2002

    Fouled Back!

    Whitey Herzog is certainly one of the greatest minds of baseball and his gift of gab is always enertaining. While this book contains many fascinating stories and offers many new perspectives on the game, it seems to slug along in many parts and seems redundant in many of the areas. I found it an effort to continue to read after the first half, and upon completion I came away wishing I would not have devoted the time spent on reading it. On the upside it is not a difficult book to read and those who are looking to read a book solely on it's relationship to baseball, disregarding the need to be moved by a book's literary value, might come away feeling better than I about the experiance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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