It’s been about two weeks since I gave you a list of movies and documentaries to get your Yankees fix, and if you’re anything like me, you burned through them within days. Fear not, for I have more options to present. They will take a bit more energy to get through, but I promise they are equally rewarding.
Books are great for the offseason since they obviously take more of a time investment. Good luck finishing a book in one sitting like you can a documentary. So here are a list of some of the best books I’ve read about the Yankees. Feel free to comment any of your suggestions, as I may have not read them yet.
Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer
This New York Times Best Seller goes deeper into the life of the Yankee Clipper than I had ever read before. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Cramer goes beyond DiMaggio’s heroic facade and explores his difficult personality through those who knew him well. Cramer not only chronicles DiMaggio’s playing days, but also delves into the nature of his relationship with Marilyn Monroe. The story of how DiMaggio came to play baseball in the first place is also an interesting read.
The back cover of the book says it all: “Joe DiMaggio was a mirror of our best self. And he was also the loneliest hero we ever had.” You can find it on Amazon for 13 dollars, or download it on your Kindle for six bucks.
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty by Buster Olney
For any non-Yankees fan looking for a laughable read that explores the downfall of an empire, I advise you to continue browsing. Despite the title and the fact that Olney’s story revolves around the devastating of events that occurred during Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, the story is so much more than that. At times, it seems like Olney gears his writing towards those other fan bases who saw the Yankees of the late-nineties as the bullies of the league, and presents the human sides of all the players we as Yankees fans grew to love, and what made them so special together.
Olney, who covered the Yankees for years, dives deep into the Yankees locker room and takes time to look at all the main contributors to the last true dynasty in baseball, while also looking at what contributed to its inevitable decline.
There is a newer expanded edition that looks into the transfer of powers among the Steinbrenner family, and the departure of Joe Torre. The book is going for dirt cheap used, or download it for eight bucks.
The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
Torre and Verducci work well together in this book that also looks into the highs and lows of the Yankees era we all wish we could return to. Torre digs deep into his relationships with the front office and his players on the field, while Verducci implements his amazing writing skills which produced another New York Times Best Seller.
It is a fascinating look into not just Torre himself, but the players around him through the eyes of the manager, and how he approached dealing with certain personalities, even though it exposes his questionable opinions on Alex Rodriguez. This book is still relatively expensive, but worth every penny.
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor
We all know Jeter’s uncanny ability to hide in plain sight, having retired after 20 years without giving us much at all in regards to himself as a human being. O’Connor makes the best attempt to delve into the life of The Captain, telling it all from childhood to the 1992 draft, and from a world champ to trials with his former best friend who would join him in 2004.
I rarely read books twice, but this is certainly one of them. Being someone who grew up in the Jeter era, this is the most well put-together story of Jeter’s life and gives great perspective on Jeter as a man, with help from hundreds of interviews from those who played or lived with him. These are selling on Amazon for cheap if you’re willing to buy a used copy.
All My Octobers by Mickey Mantle and Mickey Herskowitz
Few athletes have been written about more than the Mick. You can fill an entire bookshelf with pieces of literature covering the Yankee legend. This acclaimed book does the best job, mainly because Mantle had a major part in writing it. It centers around a 14-year span where the Yankees appeared in an unprecedented 12 World Series. Mantle tells it all from the events on the field to the struggles with injury, parties, and dealing with being the face of the Golden Age of baseball.
The book is certainly World Series-centric, but Mantle also takes the time to discuss his upbringing in the Oklahoma mines, while touching on his relationship with Joe DiMaggio. Amazon doesn’t offer a Kindle download, but you can buy the paperback version for under 15 dollars.
(Another Mantle related title worth picking up: The Last Boy by Jane Leavy.)
Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain by Marty Appel
Appel was a PR director for the Yankees during the Munson era that was cut way too short due to his tragic death. Appel’s time with Munson gives him a unique insight into the life of a fan favorite, and a chilling sequence of events leading up to his death. The book is filled with quotes from Munson’s family, friends and teammates, some who take you inside the plane on that fateful day in 1979.
Everything from Munson’s relationship with the perfectly dysfunctional Yankees of the late-seventies to his mainly absent relationship with his resentful father can be found in this in-depth story of a Yankee great who was taken away much too soon. Bring tissues to the couch when you open this book.
(Another good Appel book: Pinstripe Empire, the best full account of the Yankees’ long history.)
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
It’s not necessarily a full Yankees story, but this is a must for any baseball fan. Bouton shines a revolutionary light on baseball as a whole, and there’s a lot of laughs from cover to cover. Go out and get it.
The Closer by Mariano Rivera
Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert W. Creamer
Summer of ‘49 by David Halberstam
Ten Rings by Yogi Berra
Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathan Eig