More Tales From the Yankee Dugout
By Ed Randall, FCO '74, 200 pages.
Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing Inc., 2003. $14.95.
When one starts to write about The Most Famous Franchise in Professional Sports, roadblocks can be plentiful. Twenty-six World Championships does leave a literary minefield of clichés and uninteresting writing. In More Tales from the Yankee Dugout, however, Ed Randall employs an anecdotal style to bring a fresh look to the team with the interlocking "N and Y" on their uniforms.
More Tales is put together in a fashion that would please any baseball aficionado. Randall conducted interviews with dozens of Yankees past and present, and he relates their tales as if a roomful of baseball heroes were all swapping stories in a dimly lit watering hole. One of the most memorable stories in the book features one of the most quotable people in recent history, Yogi Berra. Johnny Oates, backup catcher for the team in the 1980s, recalled for Randall the time when teammate Graig Nettles was diagnosed with hepatitis. As a result, the entire team was sent to a clinic for shots. When Berra, who was then the team's manager, asked the nurse about the price, she told Berra it was free. According to Oates, Berra replied, "Well, in that case, give me two of them."
One of the main reasons Randall's book is a winner is because he gives readers interesting tidbits they may not know about obscure and popular players alike. For example, Yankee shortstop and current captain Derek Jeter is known throughout the land for his spectacular play and his million-dollar smile. However, there was a time during his stint in the minor leagues that his error total ballooned to 54, namely from throwing miscues. During spring training in 1995, famed infielder and Yankee instructor Clete Boyer took Jeter aside and asked him where he was aiming when he threw the ball to the first baseman. "Chest high," Jeter replied. Boyer, putting his many years of baseball knowledge to use, suggested he aim for the waist to give himself a larger margin of error. From that point on, Jeter's throwing errors abated and Boyer knew he helped a future legend in the making. "Honest to God," Boyer said, "I said before he ever played in the big leagues that he was going to be the greatest shortstop ever. He is. You can see it. He could have been in the big leagues the next week. That's all he needed."
In More Tales From the Yankee Dugout, Randall shows the reader what the box scores can't―the sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always compelling world of the New York Yankees.