Some of the contributions for the new collaboration Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World’s Most Loved (and Hated) Team are dewy-eyed tributes, either about the team in general, or a player in particular, or a personal moment with a family member, bonding over a shared love. On the other end of the spectrum, others thought of the Yankees as the most vile entity on the planet, while a few more were more middle-of-the-road. Opinions about the Yankees are like…noses (what, did you think I was going to say something else?). Everybody has one.
(If one used the book art as a Rorschach test, I wonder if they would also see the Yankees as a big bully/ogre, victimizing those less helps, sending the scurrying for their lives. Just sayin’.)
Rob Fleder, former executive editor of Sports Illustrated, polled some of the most thoughtful writers across the board. The all-star roster includes a mix of those who write about sports for a living, and others who follow more “literary” pursuits. Several of my own favorites are here: Roy Blount Jr. and Charlie Pierce, both of whom appear on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me (my favorite NPR show); Will Leitch, author of Are We Winning?: Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball); Jane Leavy, author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy (P.S.) and The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood; Daniel Okrent, author of The Ultimate Baseball Book, Expanded and Updated ); Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth; and Bill James (too numerous to pick out just one. (My new” hero” is Nathaniel Rich who challenges those who consider themselves true Yankee fans.)
Fleder has called upon some of his former SI colleagues such as Tom Verducci, Steve Rushin, and Steve, Wulf, among others. It’s a nice mix of young and old, liberal and conservative, respectful and profane.
Fleder, Leitch, Leavy, and Dan Barry (Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game) will discuss their work for the book at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, Little Fall,s NJ, on Wednesday, April 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. Call 973-655-6891 for information to to make a reservation.
I spoke with Fleder about the joys and headaches of putting together such a collaborative effort.