Monday, May 12, 2014

Review of "The Yankee Way"

Willie Randolph's baseball career was a very good one - World Series titles, all-star teams at second base, becoming the first African American manager in New York with the Mets.  In a book released today, he writes about his time with Yankees and in baseball.  He shares some very entertaining stories and it is a book that Yankee fans will enjoy reading.  Here is my review of "The Yankee Way." 

“The Yankee Way: Playing, Coaching and My Life in Baseball” by Willie Randolph

Baseball, autobiography, Yankees, Mets

May 13, 2014

288 pages

4 of 5 stars (very good)

Growing up in Brooklyn, Willie Randolph loved baseball and often dreamed of being able to play in the major leagues, like millions of other boys. He realized that dream in 1975 when he was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. That began a long journey that took him back to his hometown where he had many good seasons with the New York Yankees, including the Yankees teams of the late 1970’s that won three consecutive American League pennants and two World Series. When his playing days ended, he became a coach for the team during the next great Yankee run when led by the Core Four; they won four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000. Then later he became first African-American manager in New York when he was named manager of the Mets in 2005.  Randolph shares stories about all these chapters in his career and life in this autobiography.

What struck me most about the book was the conversational style in which it was written. There isn’t a true structure to the book as it is not in strict chronological order, nor does Randolph talk exclusively about certain times in his life in each chapter. Randolph’s writing makes the reader fell like he or she is sitting next to Willie, just passing the time by sharing baseball stories.   Much of the book is just that – baseball stories. There isn’t a lot of reflection on his early childhood family life or his family life that isn’t impacted some way by the game.  Yes, he does talk lovingly about his wife and children when they are mentioned, but even some of those are directly related to what is happening in his baseball life.

The stories are mostly funny and entertaining. One of my favorites was when Willie went on a hunting trip with Goose Gossage and a few other Yankee teammates.  Having never hunted before, it turned into a very good story of not only bagging a deer but also of the camaraderie that teammates often share with each other.  The story of he and his wife Gretchen moving into a trailer park during his minor league playing days was also a nice story, both entertaining and heartwarming by the end.  Of course, the baseball ones are great as well.  The best ones are about those about the Yankees of the late 70’s and early 80’s with Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Billy Martin and such.  They won, they fought, they grabbed headlines but in the end, they were the type of characters that made for excellent tales. 

There are times where the dialogue will veer off the topic and go on a tangent that is related to the topic being discussed.  This may distract a reader, but I thought it added to the conversational tone of the book.  Just like when two people are talking and one will go off on a tangent, this book does the same thing at times.  It doesn’t stay that way for long, and the story gets back on track. This is an enjoyable read for any baseball fan, especially Yankee fans and those who like to read about those aforementioned Yankee teams.  

I wish to thank the publisher for providing an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
This book is best read at a leisurely pace, much like if the reader were sitting on a porch with Willie sharing stories. 

Do I recommend? 
Baseball fans that enjoy reading about the great Yankee teams of the late 1970’s or in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s will especially like this book.   More casual baseball fans should also enjoy hearing Willie’s tales of his playing, coaching and managing days.

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