Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964
Written by: Peter Golenbock
Published By: Dover Publications
Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus
If there was only one sports writer I would ever read again, it would be Peter Golenbock. I absolutely love the way he writes and seems to make the reader understand what’s behind the story. The writer is articulate in that he gets the story by interviewing the persons involved, not by using rumors and folklore, but instead sitting down and having a beer with the greats and listening to their truths. Dynasty is one of the gems in Peter Golenbock’s collection of books.
The book is a must for any baseball fan, unless you are a Yankee-hater. In that case, no matter what story is told, it won’t interest you. Peter Golenbock takes you year to year from 1949 to 1964, going through the highs and the lows of each of these great Yankee teams. No detail is too small and nothing is missed, from something as small as Casey Stengel tricking Yogi Berra into believing his injury to his hand wasn’t as bad as he though to get Yogi on the play list to something as large as Roger Maris’ explanation of why he felt so upset by the Yankee fans. Golenbock expels the rumors and gets the facts right from the players.
I really like when I read a book about sports that contains stories of pranks, spirit and just plain fun. Golenbock seemed to like the same things, including such stories as when the older Yankee teammates send Phil Rizzuto on a snipe hunt (Phil was such a good sport, he actually became a regular target of the guys. Even rookie Billy Martin n used to get the Scooter.), or the fact that Mickey Mantle loved water balloons and golf and that Mickey was so good at golf, he loved skipping practice to take a shot at 18 holes, one time getting caught in the act by owner George Weiss.
Golenbock gives us the details, stats and such, but doesn’t overpower the reader with them. I have read books in which the writing seemed more of a math problem than a story of the game. One of the stats I enjoyed the most was the infamous 1961 homerun derby the “M and M Boys” put on. Golenbock masterfully tells how and when each homerun was hit and against whom. He also included such details as the injury that caused Mantle to be unable to continue the homerun derby. He even includes words from Mantle which make the case for Maris being a valid hero for the fans even though the fans and the press wanted Mickey to beat the record.
The book really makes you connect to each situation by allowing you to understand the emotional level of the player at the time and describing the events that led up to all the emotional turmoil. One of the best examples of this is when Casey Stengel tells Billy Martin that he is being traded. Billy feels betrayed by his father figure (Stengel), but it was really George Weiss, who didn’t appreciate the troublemaking ways of Martin, who was behind it all. Billy Martin never spoke to Casey Stengel again and had some regrets after Stengel’s death.
I don’t know that my review can truly do this book justice. It’s just that well written. I can tell you that I have been a Yankee fan since the 70s and, thus, I was never able to watch these great players on the field. After reading Dynasty by Peter Golenbock, I felt as if I was at every single game they ever played.
For more books by Peter Golenbock, check out: