Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame
By Zev Chafets
Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596915459, 256pp.
Publication Date: June 9, 2009
The first book to draw back the veil on the Hall of Fame, combining an insider's history of the Hall and its players with a consideration of baseball's place in culture.
The National Baseball H all of Fame is the holiest institution in American sports. It's not just a place to honor great athletes. It's where America's pastime announces to the world what it is and what it wants to be. It's not just a sports museum; it's a mirror of American culture. As Zev Chafets points out, it's no coincidence that the first black Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson, was inducted in 1962, at the height of the civil rights movement. Or that the Hall is now planning a wing to honor Latino players. For a hundred years, the story of the Hall of Fame has been deeply tied up with the story of America.
For the first time, this book shows the inner workings of the Hall: the politics, the players, and the people who own and preserve it. From the history of the founding Clark family to a day on the town with the newly inducted Goose Gossage, from the battle over steroids to the economics of induction and secret campaigns by aspiring players, this is a highly irreverent and highly entertaining tour through the life of an American institution. For anyone who cares about baseball, this is essential reading.
"Chafets brings both a fan’s affection and a social critic’s eye to his examination of the Cooperstown, N.Y. institution...amusing, sardonic and convincing." —Kirkus "Chafets briefly explores the history of how the Hall of Fame came to pass, but the real good stuff comes as he dives into the politics of the museum and how race has played a role in who has received election and who has received the shaft. He looks at the “monks” who oversee the hallowed halls, the writers who act as gatekeepers to the Hall of Fame, and explains how election can make what was once a player's worthless memorabilia into a gold mine. Much of Chafets's subject matter is sure to strike a chord with baseball fans… gives the reader a glimpse beyond what one might see at the exhibits.” —Publishers Weekly "The Baseball Hall of Fame has long been viewed as some sort of pristine baseball palace, a hardball Mecca where the ghosts of greats walk the corridors. In Cooperstown Confidential, Zev Chafets does not merely humanize the Hall and its inhabitants—he paints a fascinating, in-depth, occasionally outlandish portrait to be hung alongside the busts of the Babe and Hammerin' Hank. Chafets knocks this one over the Green Monster." —Jeff Pearlman, author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won "Put in a couple of dead bodies, an inquisitive professor who looks a lot like Tom Hanks and maybe a car chase or two and Zev Chafets would have sports' answer to The DaVinci Code. Oh well -- we'll have to settle for a literate and provocative climb through the cobwebs, misconceptions and flat-out prejudices that exist behind the shiny exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nice work. Maybe Tom Hanks can play Zev Chafets in the movie." —Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth "Red Smith suggested blowing up the Hall of Fame and starting over, and Zev Chafets has planted the bomb. This smart, tough, funny history uses the flawed temple of the game as a prism to examine the nation as well as its pastime - sex, steroids, stats, and all." —Robert Lipsyte, author of Heroes of Baseball The story of the Hall is baseball and politics, lust for fame and gain, ridiculous ballyhoo and deadly serious business. Somehow, Zev Chafets got it all -- and told it with toughness, humor, and grace." —Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life "Cooperstown Confidential is not the standard collection of rosy ancedotes about Hall of Fame baseball players. It is a fascinatingly hard-edged look inside the hallowed institution, and that makes it all the more delightful and revealing." —David Maraniss, author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered