You could fill a library with all the books written about the Yankees and their players. And leave room for one more: I’m working on a book on the myth and reality of the Babe Ruth “Called Shot” homer.
Indeed, the stories are endless. Marty Appel ties them all together in his new book, Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from before the Babe to after the Boss.
It is a 620-page epic with everything in there. Lots of good stories and baseball history.
Here’s my Q/A with Appel:
How far back do you go with the Yankees?
As a fan, back to the 1955 World Series. As an employee, the 1968 season, Mantle’s last, when I was hired to answer his fan mail.
How long did you work on this project and what was involved in doing the research?
In a sense, I worked on it since 1955, simply by remembering things. I fell in love with baseball and the memories kept adding on. As a writing project though, it was about 2 1/2 years. Knowing how to research and where to look for things I wanted was critical in making it a relatively short period of time, considering it covered 110 years.
The Yankees have such a storied tradition. What stories stand out for you? What are your favorite stories? Perhaps the stories that haven’t received as much attention through the years?
I think the opportunity to get fans better acquainted with Jacob Ruppert, who co-owned and then owned the team from 1915-1939, emerged as a powerful story. He was a great sportsman, he bought Babe Ruth, he built Yankee Stadium, he created the dynasty. He epitomized wealth in the 20th century, but he had to deal with anti-German feelings in the country following World War 1, then with prohibition, which effectively wiped out his brewery, and then with the Great Depression which kept the baseball industry stagnant for a decade. And he prevailed.
Who were your favorite characters? Known and perhaps unknown?
It’s hard to ignore Babe Ruth with this question, for he was so much more than the big lug America came to love. After the president and perhaps Charlie Chaplin, he was the best known American, and baseball had never had such a personality before, someone to capture the attention of so many.
Why have the Yankees been able to maintain their success over the years?
Ruppert set in place a practice of putting profits back into the team. It was something that George Steinbrenner did as well. That was the key, along with the legacy that was built so that players, when able to move on their own, wanted to wear the same uniform as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and now Jeter.
Doesn’t it get boring having a team that wins every year? Speaking from a guy who lives in Chicago.
Nope! But honestly, if you were born in the late ’50s, or the mid 70s, you had to be almost 20 years old to cash in with your first world championship. That’s a long wait for what others consider a birthright.