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October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978

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On the morning of October 2, 1978, the World Champion NewYork Yankees found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. That day these rousing ball clubs would meet at Fenway Park. Both had won ninety-nine games. Only one would win one hundred. The Yankees should have been reaching for their golf clubs-they had feuded until they were fourteen games out of firs On the morning of October 2, 1978, the World Champion NewYork Yankees found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. That day these rousing ball clubs would meet at Fenway Park. Both had won ninety-nine games. Only one would win one hundred. The Yankees should have been reaching for their golf clubs-they had feuded until they were fourteen games out of first place. Then their fortunes turned, and they capped one of the most thrilling comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Red Sox that October afternoon in a game that many still remember as the greatest ever played. Transporting us into the midst of this unforgettable team, Roger Kahn weaves the first in-depth account of the legendary season of '78 and reaffirms his standing as our nation's master storyteller of baseball.


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On the morning of October 2, 1978, the World Champion NewYork Yankees found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. That day these rousing ball clubs would meet at Fenway Park. Both had won ninety-nine games. Only one would win one hundred. The Yankees should have been reaching for their golf clubs-they had feuded until they were fourteen games out of firs On the morning of October 2, 1978, the World Champion NewYork Yankees found themselves tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. That day these rousing ball clubs would meet at Fenway Park. Both had won ninety-nine games. Only one would win one hundred. The Yankees should have been reaching for their golf clubs-they had feuded until they were fourteen games out of first place. Then their fortunes turned, and they capped one of the most thrilling comebacks in baseball history by defeating the Red Sox that October afternoon in a game that many still remember as the greatest ever played. Transporting us into the midst of this unforgettable team, Roger Kahn weaves the first in-depth account of the legendary season of '78 and reaffirms his standing as our nation's master storyteller of baseball.

30 review for October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978

  1. 4 out of 5

    B

    If you have read the other books on this era by NY sportswriters and the athletes themselves, this doesn't add much new or revealing. The author offers many left handed compliments/digs to his peers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Greg Rivers

    Roger Kahn is a gifted writer, especially when he's writing about baseball. "The Boys of Summer" is probably one of the five best books about baseball ever written. If it seems like there's a big old "but" coming, yes, there is. If you've read a lot of Kahn, you know that he has a tendency to insert himself into his writing. When he's at his best (the aforementioned "Boys" and "A Flame of Pure Fire" would fall into this category), it's just a minor annoyance. When he's not at his best, however, i Roger Kahn is a gifted writer, especially when he's writing about baseball. "The Boys of Summer" is probably one of the five best books about baseball ever written. If it seems like there's a big old "but" coming, yes, there is. If you've read a lot of Kahn, you know that he has a tendency to insert himself into his writing. When he's at his best (the aforementioned "Boys" and "A Flame of Pure Fire" would fall into this category), it's just a minor annoyance. When he's not at his best, however, it feels more like a rather sad need to make himself a part of a story that should have nothing to do with him. I noticed this first in the sort-of autobiography he collaborated with Pete Rose on. Pete apparently convinced Roger that he was completely innocent of betting on baseball (somehow, he managed to convince many people of this - but Roger Kahn seems to think himself not just a better writer than most, but smarter as well) and Kahn included his own reactions throughout the book. This was Kahn at his worst, and he seems to realize it, as I don't see this book on any of the "Other books by ..." sections of his later works. Perhaps he hopes if he pretends he didn't write "Pete Rose: My Story," the rest of the world will forget it as well. What does this have to do with "October Men"? Mostly it showed, a quarter-century before "October Men" was published, what Bad Roger looks like. In this book, Bad Roger is in full force. There is little new information here - much of it comes from previously published books - and Kahn spends a lot of time taking unnecessary pot shots at other writers. Murray Chass? Not very good with the language, according to Roger. Roger Angell (admittedly, a personal favorite of mine)? Overrated and overly-florid in his use of language. That just scratches the surface of his complaints, but it does give you an idea of what you are in for if you decide to take a shot at "October Men". Now if you're asking yourself what Mr. Kahn's complaints about other writers has to do with a book about the 1978 Yankees, I am not the one to tell you. I certainly cannot figure it out, except that he seems motivated by a need to demonstrate how much better he is than all these other professionals. There are plenty of excellent books, about the late-'70s Yankees generally, and about the 1978 season more generally. This is not one of them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Babs M

    This is a great book I recommend to all baseball fans.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Don LaFountaine

    I really enjoyed this book about the New York Yankees of 1978, one of the craziest teams in Major League Baseball history. The topic of the 1978 season is well known to baseball fans, especially if they are fans of the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. This book by Roger Kahn does cover the well-known facts of the season from the Yankee perspective. The team was dysfunctional and riddled with injuries, had an alcoholic manager who seemed to only be interested in fighting the owner and the p I really enjoyed this book about the New York Yankees of 1978, one of the craziest teams in Major League Baseball history. The topic of the 1978 season is well known to baseball fans, especially if they are fans of the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. This book by Roger Kahn does cover the well-known facts of the season from the Yankee perspective. The team was dysfunctional and riddled with injuries, had an alcoholic manager who seemed to only be interested in fighting the owner and the players, Ron Guidry had one of the best seasons in modern MLB history, and somehow, they fought back from 14 ½ gams back in July to force one of the most famous playoff games. Within the pages of this book are the back stories and history of the people who made up the teams and their front offices. It is an important story that is told by a phenomenal story teller. Some of the stories are probably known to most baseball fans, while some are not as widely known. Some of the people and tales the reader will find discussed in the book include: - Billy Martin: How his self-destructive behavior, spurred on by scotch, caused such havoc in and out of the clubhouse that many players found it difficult to deal with him. He made comments that got him fired from the Manager position, but within a week, it was announced at the Old Timers game that he would be returning. - Bob Lemon: Fired from Chicago, his calming influence help to guide the Yankees back from the depths of American League East to force a 1 game playoff with the Red Sox. - How the Red Sox had injuries and some slumps from their star players that contributed to the Yankees being able to catch up in the second half of the season – including a 4 game sweep by the Yankees named the Boston Massacre. Also mentioned is how these Red Sox went on a tear at the end of the season in order to force the playoff game. - Reggie Jackson: The prima donna of the Yankees and how he dealt with teammates, the owner and the managers, and his candy bar. - Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage: From Cy Young to Sayonara and the addition of a high priced power closer. - George Steinbrenner: The hands on owner of the Yankees who freely spent his money to win championships and therefore felt that he had a say in everything regarding the team with no regard to the people working under him. - The Cleveland contingent: The members of the front office and management team that had ties to the Cleveland Indians, causing controversy with many people because Steinbrenner was also from Cleveland. All in all, this is a wonderful book for baseball fans to read, especially if they are Yankee fans. Roger Kahn wrote this book well, and though it focuses on the Yankees, it does not feel like it is biased towards them. The writing comes across as objective and not as placing the Yanks on a pedestal while beating down others. I would recommend this to all baseball fans, though admittedly Yankee fans will probably like it best. Though a little dated, (it was written in 2003) it is a nice addition to the volumes of work discussing the 1978 season.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peter Harris

    I think you could argue The 1970’s Yankees were a great team. But, as far as being in the top ten of all time, possibly with a couple of decisions going a different direction. I’m biased in thinking it had the potential to be as good as even the 1927 Yankees. (Murderers Row) It started with Nettles and Munson. Then came Randolph, etc. But, the 1970’s Yankees would have to wait for Jackson, Dent, Guidry, etc. The book centers on the October of 1978 rivalry of the Sox and Yanks, but periodically le I think you could argue The 1970’s Yankees were a great team. But, as far as being in the top ten of all time, possibly with a couple of decisions going a different direction. I’m biased in thinking it had the potential to be as good as even the 1927 Yankees. (Murderers Row) It started with Nettles and Munson. Then came Randolph, etc. But, the 1970’s Yankees would have to wait for Jackson, Dent, Guidry, etc. The book centers on the October of 1978 rivalry of the Sox and Yanks, but periodically leaves it for tangent Yankees historically significant discussion. If you are a 1970’s Yanks fan, you will love this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This book is great for baseball fans and especially Yankee fans. This book gets in detail about the Yankees 1978 season and there postseason run. It puts into great depth and gives details about there legendary season. I would recommend this book to anyone who is an avid baseball fan and loves to read about sports books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Guerard-Cugini

    If I were a Yankee fan, I might give it 5 stars. Alas, I'm a Red Sox fan. In the illustrious words of Don Zimmer (Red Sox manager in 1978) Bucky F---ing Dent?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cool Papa

    Excellent account of the 1978 baseball season ending in the classic "Bucky Dent" single-game playoff between Yankees and Red Sox. Great characters, great drama, great baseball.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Al

    An excellent review of the 1978 season with great portraits of all of the key players in the drama.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Edward Morton

    The 78 Yankees was super interesting. Billy Martin was a train wreck

  11. 5 out of 5

    Don

    This is an enjoyable read. Kahn, best known for The Boys of Summer (which is a baseball classic) writes fluidly, with only the occasional awkwardness. The following are my problems with the book: In places it's a bit repetitive; it focuses too much on the press and its relationship with the players; some of its asides and digressions seem like filler to me; it's occasionally sloppy factually; and perhaps most significant to me, I don't think there is enough attention paid to the on-field action. This is an enjoyable read. Kahn, best known for The Boys of Summer (which is a baseball classic) writes fluidly, with only the occasional awkwardness. The following are my problems with the book: In places it's a bit repetitive; it focuses too much on the press and its relationship with the players; some of its asides and digressions seem like filler to me; it's occasionally sloppy factually; and perhaps most significant to me, I don't think there is enough attention paid to the on-field action. Obviously, the antics of Billy Martin, Steinbrenner, Reggie Jackson et al. which generated the controversies and are really the reason for this book, are interesting. But all of that would be of little interest but for the fact that the Yankees in 1978 staged one of the great comebacks of all time. Kahn gives win-loss totals at various points, but provides no real feel for the play of the team, particularly during the final month or so of the season when the Yankees gained so much ground. And the only player whose season-long play we get any sense of is Ron Guidry. We get no sense as to what kind of season other players--Mickey Rivers, Chambliss, Roy White, Figueroa, etc.--had or whether there is any consistent pattern to the team's play during the year. What sort of year did Greg Nettles have? Ed Figueroa won 20 games that year for the Yankees, a terrific accomplishment, and yet it goes unmentioned by Kahn. The book has the feel of having been dashed off rather quickly in order to fulfill a contractual commitment or meet a deadline.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    While I preferred the Bronx Zoo, this was an okay read about the story of the 78 Yankees. Kahn starts with an overview of Yankee lore then goes into the mid 70’s telling of the assembly of the championship teams of 77 and 78. Focuses mainly on Billy, George and Reggie though has some good stories of some of the other players in the drama not covered in the players books that much like Gabe Paul and Al Rosen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    patrick Lorelli

    This book is about the 78 Yankee’s and hoe through all of the problems came back from 14 ½ games behind the Red Sox to tie them and then play a one-game playoff. Most people who are fans of either team know the outcome, f***ing Dent. Here is just a look into the firing of Martin, hiring of Lemon. The problem between Goose and Sparky Lyle. Guidry having one of the best seasons as a pitcher. Of course, Reggie Jackson and everything around him and then the “Boss”. I found this to be an okay story, This book is about the 78 Yankee’s and hoe through all of the problems came back from 14 ½ games behind the Red Sox to tie them and then play a one-game playoff. Most people who are fans of either team know the outcome, f***ing Dent. Here is just a look into the firing of Martin, hiring of Lemon. The problem between Goose and Sparky Lyle. Guidry having one of the best seasons as a pitcher. Of course, Reggie Jackson and everything around him and then the “Boss”. I found this to be an okay story, not one that I was blown away with when I finished it. Most Yankee fans know most everything already.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Rothstein

    This book is about the 1978 New York Yankees. I wanted to read this book because the 1978 Yankees are the greatest team of all time. This was suppose to be about a team that was mediocore changing thru the players , into the winningest sports franchise in history. Instead Kahn spent lots of wasted time, reviewing the history of baseball, with boring details. I was very disappointed. However, I would reccomend this book to anyone that loves the NY Yankees, as it still had great parts in the book This book is about the 1978 New York Yankees. I wanted to read this book because the 1978 Yankees are the greatest team of all time. This was suppose to be about a team that was mediocore changing thru the players , into the winningest sports franchise in history. Instead Kahn spent lots of wasted time, reviewing the history of baseball, with boring details. I was very disappointed. However, I would reccomend this book to anyone that loves the NY Yankees, as it still had great parts in the book about the 1978 Yankees.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Diener

    Terrific baseball book. Read this one a few years back as part of my annual Spring Training ritual. This is where I first learned that Reggie Jackson referred to himself as "the straw that stirs the drink," a phrase I have loved ever since encountering it in this great book by my favorite baseball writer.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaffer

    This book was lazily researched, as evidenced by the multitude of errors throughout. Kahn probably figured as he was such a veteran baseball writer and knew personally many of the important figures in this book, that he could just roll out of bed and write this book. He was wrong.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    The '78 Yankees were the first baseball team I ever followed. I was 6 years old and obsessed. So, I was really excited about this book. I guess I just don't love Kahn's writing style, as I was disappointed. It was not the page turned I thought it would be.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Myke

    I like Roger Kahn, but this book really could have been a novelette. There are an awful lot of anecdotes which are only loosely related to the story. They would have made interesting articles but didn't hold my attention so well as a novel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adam Cifu

    I will read almost any baseball book, I grew up with the Yankees of the 70's, and I have read and loved other Roger Kahn books and I found this unreadable. Any reasonable editor would have cut at least 100 pages.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kallan

    As much as I loved The Bronx Zoo, I disliked October Men. Kahn came off as condescending, biased towards those involved with the 1978 Yankees that he had a positive relationship with, and seemed as if he was mailing it in for long sections of the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul Body

    Not a Yankees fan, but a fun read for a sports fan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jose

    You have to be a Yankees fan to enjoy this one

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vraj HAHA NONE OF UR BUISNESSS GOT THAT???

    not the greatest book but some people are messed billy martin wat a racist though nice book

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Crimmins

    A few unnecessary tangents that felt like filler, a few too many times he inserted himself into the story like he was showing off, but it was a Yankee book. Of course I liked it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miki

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steven Bingham

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marcel Schot

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Kasten

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Harless

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