Bottom of the Ninth

Bottom of the Ninth

Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball From Itself

Book - 2009
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Fifty years ago, as baseball faced crises on and off the field, two larger-than-life figures took center stage, each on a quest to reinvent the national pastime

In the late 1950s, baseball was under siege. Up-and-coming cities that wanted teams of their own were being rebuffed by the owners, and in response Congress was threatening to revoke the sport's antitrust exemption. These problems were magnified by what was happening on the field, as the New York Yankees were winning so often that true competition was vanishing in the American League.

In Bottom of the Ninth , Michael Shapiro brings to life this watershed moment in baseball history. He shows how the legendary executive Branch Rickey saw the game's salvation in two radical ideas: the creation of a third major league--the Continental League--and the pooling of television revenues for the benefit of all. And Shapiro captures the audacity of Casey Stengel, the manager of the Yankees, who believed that he could bend the game to his wishes and remake how baseball was played. Their stories are interwoven with the on-field drama of pennant races and clutch performances, culminating in three classic World Series confrontations.

As the tension built on and off the field, Rickey and Stengel would find themselves outsmarted and defeated by the team owners who held true backroom power--defeats that would diminish the game for decades to come. Shapiro's compelling narrative reaches its stunning climax in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, when one swing of the bat heralds baseball's eclipse as America's number-one sport.

Publisher: New York : Times Book, 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780805082470
Branch Call Number: 796.357 Shapiro
Characteristics: x, 303 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill. ;,25 cm.

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Feb 21, 2016

By examining what was previously seen as a tiny and irrelevant footnote in the history of MLB, Bottom of the Ninth provides an excellent service to baseball fans by documenting the short-lived Continental League (and I do mean short, they never played one game) and how it greatly influenced the sport. Back in the late 50's when players were considered to be nothing more than cattle while greedy owners refused to expand despite a huge demand for more teams, Branch Rickey and William Shea decided to create a third league where teams would share television revenue equally - a radical idea at the time. Fearing this rebel league might go to court to fight baseball's anti-trust exemption and even worse, the draconian reserve clause, the owners decided to finish off this league before it even started. While today few people know about the Continental League, the author shows us that the threat they posed directly led to the creation of the Mets, Angels, Twins and Astros. And one of the teams that would've played in this new league was a Toronto franchise, whose owner was eager to tap a reservoir of talent in Latin America, another idea that was ahead of its time. There's a lot of great history in this book that will definitely expand your knowledge of the sport and how certain things came to be.


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