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Lyle Spatz

Lyle Spatz’z articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Total Baseball, Baseball Weekly, Baseball Digest, The National Pastime, The Baseball Research Journal, and The Baltimore Orioles Official Game Program. In addition,  he has presented papers at the Babe Ruth Conference at Hofstra University and at the Jackie Robinson Conference at Long Island University. Lyle has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) since 1973 and served as the chairman of SABR’s Baseball Records Committee from 1991 to 2016. SABR has honored presented him with the L. Robert Davids Award in 2001 and the Henry Chadwick Award in 2017. The magazine The Diamond Angle presented him with their F. C. Lane Award in recognition of his excellence in baseball writing, and The Sporting News presented him with an award for his research related to The Midsummer Classic. His book, New York Yankee Openers: An Opening Day History of Baseball’s Most Famous Team, 1903-1996, was a finalist for the Seymour Medal honoring 1997’s best book of baseball history. His book 1921: The Yankees, the Giants and Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York (co-authored with Steve Steinberg) was the winner of the 2011 Seymour Medal. His books The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers and Dixie Walker: A Life in Baseball won the 2012 and 2013 Ron Gabriel Award for the best book relating to the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 2016, he and Steve Steinberg shared the SABR Baseball Research Award for their research on The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership That Transformed the New York Yankees.


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Baseball History, Biography & Records 

Brooklyn Dodgers

New York Baseball

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Hugh Casey:

The Triumphs and Tragedies of a Brooklyn Dodger

Hugh Casey was one of the most colorful members of the iconic Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940s, a team that took part in four great pennant races, the first National League playoff series, and two exciting World Series over the course of Casey’s career. That famed team included many outsized personalities, including executives Larry MacPhail and Branch Rickey, manager Leo Durocher, and players like Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Dixie Walker, Joe Medwick, and Pete Reiser.  


In Hugh Casey: The Triumphs and Tragedies of a Brooklyn Dodger, Lyle Spatz details Casey’s life and career, from his birth in Atlanta to his suicide in that same city thirty-seven years later. Spatz includes such moments as Casey’s famous “pitch that got away” in Game Four of the 1941 World Series, the numerous brawls and beanball wars in which Casey was frequently involved, and the Southern-born Casey’s reaction to Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers. Spatz also reveals how Casey helped to redefine the role of the relief pitcher, twice leading the National League in saves and twice finishing second—if saves had been an official statistic during his lifetime. 


While this book focuses on Casey’s baseball career in Brooklyn, Spatz also covers Casey’s often-tragic personal life. He not only ran into trouble with the IRS, he also got into a fistfight with Ernest Hemingway and was charged in a paternity suit that was decided against him. Featuring personal interviews with Casey’s son and with former teammate Carl Erskine, this book will fascinate and inform fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers and baseball historians alike.


The Colonel and Hug;

The Partnership That transformed the New York Yankees

From the team’s inception in 1903, the New York Yankees were a floundering group that played as second-class citizens to the New York Giants. With four winning seasons to date, the team was purchased in 1915 by Jacob Ruppert and his partner, Cap Til Huston. Three years later, when Ruppert hired Miller Huggins as manager, the unlikely partnership of the two figures began, one that set into motion the Yankees’ run as the dominant baseball franchise of the 1920s and the rest of the twentieth century, capturing six American League pennants with Huggins at the helm and four more during Ruppert’s lifetime.

he Yankees’ success was driven by Ruppert’s executive style and enduring financial commitment, combined with Huggins’s philosophy of continual improvement and personnel development. While Ruppert and Huggins had more than a little help from one of baseball’s greats, Babe Ruth, their close relationship has been overlooked in the Yankees’ rise to dominance. Though both were small of stature, the two men nonetheless became giants of the game with unassailable mutual trust and loyalty. The Colonel and Hug tells the story of how these two men transformed the Yankees. It also tells the larger story about baseball primarily in the tumultuous period from 1918 to 1929—with the end of the Deadball Era and the rise of the Lively Ball Era, a gambling scandal, and the collapse of baseball’s governing structure—and the significant role the Yankees played in it all. While the hitting of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig won many games for New York, Ruppert and Huggins institutionalized winning for the Yankees.


New York Yankees Openers:

An Opening Day History of Baseball's Most Famous Team, 1903-2017

The New York Yankees are baseball's most storied team. They first played at Hilltop Park, then moved to the Polo Grounds, then Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, back to the renovated Yankee Stadium, and now in the new Yankee Stadium.

They also frequently opened the season in Boston's historic Fenway Park, fondly remembered Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Griffith Stadium in Washington, and all around the expanded leagues after 1961.

This book details every opening-day celebration and game from 1903 to 2017, while noting how each was affected by war, the economy, political and social protest and population shifts. We see presidents and politicians, entertainers, celebrities, and fans, owners, managers, and most of all, the players.


Willie Keeler:

From the Playgrounds of Brooklyn to the Hall of Fame

Playing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Willie Keeler is still considered one of baseball’s most accomplished batters in the history of the game. Wee Willie’s popular “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” explanation for his batting success has become part of baseball lore. He is known for his quick-thinking at the plate and for his record-setting forty-four-game hitting streak in 1897 that was not surpassed until Joe DiMaggio broke the record in 1941. In addition to being one of baseball’s most accomplished hitters, Keeler was an integral part of two memorable teams—the Baltimore Orioles of 1894-1897 and the Brooklyn Superbas of 1899-1900.

Willie Keeler: From the Playgrounds of Brooklyn to the Hall of Fame recounts the life of this talented yet often overlooked ballplayer. It follows Keeler from his birth in 1872 in Brooklyn to his death in 1923. His unique story includes a career that was almost evenly split between the rough and “dirty” National League of the 1890s and the new, more disciplined American League of the early twentieth century. Each part of this book examines a key stage of Keeler’s life and career: his childhood and teenage years; his career with the Baltimore Orioles; his years with the Brooklyn Superbas; his time with the New York Yankees; and his life after baseball.

Featuring several rare photographs, many of which have not been seen in more than a hundred years, Willie Keeler provides an in-depth look into the life of an undersized ballplayer who forged a big career. Baseball fans, scholars, and historians alike will find this book both informative and entertaining.



Dixie Walker: A Life in Baseball

Over the course of fifty years in the mid-twentieth century, Fred "Dixie" Walker lived several baseball lives. Dubbed the successor to Babe Ruth after his impressive major league debut in 1931, Walker went from sure-fire prospect to injury-plagued underachiever, to Brooklyn hero, to persona non grata because of his complicated relationship with Jackie Robinson, and finally to redeemed, well-respected minor league manager and major league batting coach. The only player to have been a teammate of both Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, Walker is remembered too often for the charge that he tried to keep Robinson from joining the Dodgers. This illuminating biography covers Walker's rollercoaster career, revealing him to be a gentle man, a fiery competitor, and one of the most colorful characters of baseball's most memorable era.


Historical Dictionary of Baseball

Dating back to 1869 as an organized professional sport, the game of baseball is not only the oldest professional sport in North America, but also symbolizes much more. Walt Whitman described it as “our game, the American game,” and George Will compared calling baseball “just a game” to the Grand Canyon being “just a hole.” Countless others have called baseball “the most elegant game,” and to those who have played it, it’s life.

The Historical Dictionary of Baseball is primarily devoted to the major leagues it also includes entries on the minor leagues, the Negro Leagues, women’s baseball, baseball in various other countries, and other non-major league related topics. It traces baseball, in general, and these topics individually, from their beginnings up to the present. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 900 cross-referenced entries on the roles of the players on the field—batters, pitchers, fielders—as well as non-playing personnel—general managers, managers, coaches, and umpires. There are also entries for individual teams and leagues, stadiums and ballparks, the role of the draft and reserve clause, and baseball’s rules, and statistical categories. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the sport of baseball.


1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York

At the dawn of the roaring twenties, baseball was struggling to overcome two of its darkest moments: the death of a player during a Major League game and the revelations of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. At this critical juncture for baseball, two teams emerged to fight for the future of the game. They were also battling for the hearts and minds of New Yorkers as the city rose in dramatic fashion to the pinnacle of the baseball world.


1921 captures this crucial moment in the history of baseball, telling the story of a season that pitted the New York Yankees against their Polo Grounds landlords and hated rivals, John McGraw’s Giants, in the first all–New York Series and resulted in the first American League pennant for the now-storied Yankees’ franchise. Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg recreate the drama that featured the charismatic Babe Ruth in his assault on baseball records in the face of McGraw’s disdain for the American League and the Ruth-led slugging style. Their work evokes the early 1920s with the words of renowned sportswriters such as Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice, and Heywood Broun. With more than fifty photographs, the book offers a remarkably vivid picture of the colorful characters, the crosstown rivalry, and the incomparable performances that made this season a classic.


Bad Bill Dahlen:

The Rollicking Like and Times of an Early Baseball Star

He was often nonchalant and unfocused, showing up minutes before a game. He was rumored to get himself ejected so he could get to the racetrack. He was feisty, and abusive towards umpires even by today's standards. And he's among the best shortstops ever to play the game. "Bad Bill" Dahlen retired having played in more games than anyone in major league history; he was in the top ten for walks, extra base hits, RBI's and stolen bases; and he led all shortstops in games, assists, putouts and double plays. He starred in both the 19th century and the deadball era, and managed as well. He's a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, right? Wrong. Player after player with lower career ratings has been admitted, yet Dahlen has been ignored. Maybe time has clouded memories of the brilliance of this offensive dynamo and master of his position--but how much longer can it be before Bad Bill Dahlen takes his rightful place in Cooperstown? This examination of Bill Dahlen's career as a player and manager highlights his strengths and weaknesses, personal and professional. Chronicling his achievements and placing him in context with the greats of all time, it makes a strong case that Bill Dahlen is a Hall of Fame shortstop, head and shoulders above many inductees. Seventeen chapters and 49 photographs trace his career; appendices compare his numbers to his Hall of Fame contemporaries, Hall of Fame shortstops, and list his lifetime batting and fielding statistics. Notes, a bibliography and an index are included.

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