MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewLeavy’s conceit allows her to stake out some untrod turf. But she also makes a compelling case that to appreciate the adulation Ruth soaked up in October 1927 is to understand his contribution to American life in full. He was not merely a hitter of towering home runs, but the progenitor of our contemporary conception of what it means to be a celebrity ... however, Leavy can strain to find meaning in the marketing materials. It’s true, and worthy of note, that Ruth’s celebrity was so novel that it outstripped the capacity of American law to protect it ... But Leavy’s long detour into jurisprudential debates over publicity rights, and Ruth’s failed effort to popularize his own Home Run bar, will try the patience of readers who lack a strong taste for legal or confectionary history. For a manifestly assiduous reporter and researcher, Leavy can also be careless with the facts ... The book captures Ruth’s outsize influence on American sport and culture, and for that alone it will make a welcome companion during the long, baseball-less months to come. But the man of many poses never fully comes into focus.
PositiveThe New York TimesKeith Hernandez doesn’t like baseball memoirs. \'It feels like they’ve become a paint-by-numbers exercise,\' the former first baseman laments at the outset of his own entry in the genre. What he offers instead is an impressionistic account of his baseball boyhood, a kind of “Remembrance of At-Bats Past,” complete with a baked good to set the memories in motion.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBranch, a reporter for The New York Times who first covered the Wrights for the newspaper, embedded with the family for more than three years—access nearly unheard of at a time when athletes prefer to tweet than talk to reporters. The book also has uncommon ambition: It’s a story not just of rodeo, but of the contemporary West ... To his credit, Branch avoids the sentimentalism that can seep into such a tale. He also does an impressive job of making the rodeo life come off the page.
MixedThe New York TimesDickson does a fair job of capturing the grit and glitz of a man whose idea of a doubleheader was a ballgame in the afternoon and a bender with his friend Frank Sinatra after dark. But there’s insufficient depth of insight here to provide a satisfying appreciation of the confounding Durocher.
PanThe New York Times Book Review...a workaday account that fails to improve on the rich Stengel literature. Appel, a former public relations director for the Yankees, approaches the work of the biographer the way an official scorer approaches a ballgame: dispassionately noting every event, with little to differentiate the mundane from the miraculous. Appel adds to the historical record details from an unpublished memoir by Stengel’s wife, Edna, but as she would be the first to admit, her husband was most alive when he was on the diamond.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review[Futterman] tends to view money favorably in individual sports like golf and tennis but sees it as a corrosive force in team sports like basketball, where he links ballooning sneaker deals with a plague of ball-hogging, as players came to value endorsement contracts more than championship rings ... Futterman largely ignores our current golden age of ball movement and dwells instead on the decade following Michael Jordan’s retirement, when a host of players came to the N.B.A. directly from high school.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPassan varies his approach to his subject like an ace mixing his speeds, leaving the reader happily guessing at what’s coming next...Clearly, Tommy John represents an improvement over those benighted times. But Passan makes a convincing case that the success of the surgery has prevented teams from seeking out the combination of mechanics, training and rest that might spare players the surgeon’s knife.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review[Boys Among Men], a gripping, deeply reported book by Jonathan Abrams, late of Grantland, offers a far more nuanced study of this cohort, which includes some of the greatest players in recent history ... It’s true that some highly touted high school players failed to live up to their potential — often because the demands of the professional game outstripped the players’ physical and mental preparedness — and Abrams doesn’t flinch from these stories. But nor does he fall into the trap of judging prep-to-pro players on whether they became superstars.