Baseball Heaven: Up Close and Personal, What It Was Really Like in the Major Leagues

Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2024. 344p. ISBN 9781538181829. $28.95. SPORTS
Prolific baseball writer Golenbock’s (Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers) success in sports writing has largely been attributed to his talent for conducting interviews, especially his ability to ask the right questions and develop trust with his subjects. In this behind-the-scenes look at baseball history, he quotes heavily, including raw details, from the manuscripts of his interviews with a number of lesser-known characters who have firsthand knowledge of famous baseball events and players. Golenbock’s interviewees include the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who signed Jackie Robinson, the first Black major-league baseball player, to his team; the pitcher responsible for Bobby Thomson’s walk-off home run that became the “shot heard ’round the world”; a player from the notoriously bad early New York Mets team, who began playing in 1962; and the late baseball player Gary Carter, who elucidates the inner workings of the wildly successful 1986 season in which the Mets won their second World Series.
VERDICT A wonderfully distinctive and intriguing baseball history with something of a New York bent. With its personal feel and near-mystical quality, this highly recommended work will mesmerize baseball lovers and casual fans.
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