As I get older, I make it a habit of going through books I once read or half read back in my teens and 20s. It’s amazing the perspective age gives you. I’m more patient of a reader and I notice more things and appreciate them.
Roger Kahn is one of those baseball scribes I’ve always had mixed feelings on. He’s written some good stuff but his fascination with the Brooklyn Dodgers has helped cultivate this cottage industry around the team like they’re some kind of baseball Atlantis and not a poor draw that left for warmer climates.
But I had a yen to read about the 78 Yankees and Sparky Lyle’s The Bronx Zoo has never done it for me. I find Lyle too smug and self-assured. So I grabbed this instead.
Oh man, it’s so good. Excellent.
Less a diary and more a love letter to baseball, specifically the development of the Yankees over generations and the unlikely confluence of events that led to their bizarre 1978 season, culminating with a repeat championship despite the fact that they all basically hated each other and their owner.
Kahn does a great job capturing the era, the personalities, and the sport itself. He has a keen eye for the racism endemic in baseball, particularly as to how it impacted Reggie Jackson in his time with the team. He tells the full story and he tells it in such a rich, digestible way.
This isn’t listed among the great baseball books of all time. It should be.