Day 22: 30 baseball books in 30 days of April, ’09: Keeping the Green (Monster) theme — No, no Shaughnessey


The book: “It Was Never About the Babe: How the Boston Red Sox Overcame Decades of Mismanagement and Racism and Built a Dynasty”

The author: Jerry M. Gutlon

How to find it: Skyhorse Publishing, 336 pages, $24.95

Where we’d go looking for it: It’s here on Barnes & Noble (linked here) but otherwise not that easy to find.

The scoop: We hesistate to even bring this one up. Somehow, we are. Maybe because we’re amused in some way that this even got printed.

Gutlon, listed as “an award-winning print and broadcast journalist who has been published in the New York Times and The Washington Post,” uses 96 book references, 12 magazines, 14 online resources (including Wikipedia) and 24 newspapers to make a case that this is the “real” history of the Red Sox – owner Tom Yawkey owned a brothel, Jackie Robinson had a tryout at Fenway Park but was rejected because of his race, and Babe Ruth was never sold to the Yankees because owner Harry Frazee wanted to fund his Broadway play, “No No Nannette,” but because baseball commissioner Ban Johnson wanted to throw Frazee out and Ruth was a major distruption in the clubhouse.

Gutlon contends that ownership picked its managers and players not by their talent but by who they drank with, there was insitutational racism.

OK, you got us interested….

Gutlon also appears to be a Boston fan who grew up trying to debunk Dan Shaughnessey’s 1990 book, “The Curse of the Bambino,” as well as the ’05 followup, “Reversing the Curse.”

An excerpt from page 5:

In reality the “curse” involved more than small doses of bigroty, cronyism and mismanagment. The abject failure of the media to hold the team responsible not only for its plethoria of bad – indeed, outright stupid – trades, but more importantly, for the miserable way the team avoided social change bordered on criminal … (the Frazee claim of “No No Nannette”) … In reality, that fable is the result of prejudice, pure and simple … The truth is much uglier, a dirty little secret.

How it goes down in the scorebook: How about a B for effort, a B-minus in execution. We know you never use letter grades in a scorebook, but somehow, this seems appropriate.

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