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The Yankee Years (Hardcover)


Product Description

Twelve straight playoff appearances. Six American League pennants. Four World Series titles. This is the definitive story of a dynasty: the Yankee years

When Joe Torre took over as manager of the New York Yankees in 1996, the most storied franchise in sports had not won a World Series title in eighteen years. The famously tough and mercurial owner, George Steinbrenner, had fired seventeen managers during that span. Torre’s appointment was greeted with Bronx cheers from the notoriously brutal New York media, who cited his record as the player and manager who had been in the most Major League games without appearing in a World Series

Twelve tumultuous and triumphant years later, Torre left the team as the most beloved and successful manager in the game. In an era of multimillionaire free agents, fractured clubhouses, revenue-sharing, and off-the-field scandals, Torre forged a team ethos that united his players and made the Yankees, once again, the greatest team in sports. He won over the media with his honesty and class, and was beloved by the fans.

But it wasn’t easy.

Here, for the first time, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci take us inside the dugout, the
clubhouse, and the front office in a revelatory narrative that shows what it really took to keep the Yankees on top of the baseball world. The high-priced ace who broke down in tears and refused to go back to the mound in the middle of a game. Constant meddling from Yankee executives, many of whom were jealous of Torre’s popularity. The tension that developed between the old guard and the free agents brought in by management. The impact of revenue-sharing and new scouting techniques, which allowed other teams to challenge the Yankees’ dominance. The players who couldn’t resist the after-hours temptations of the Big Apple. The joys of managing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the challenges of managing Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Torre’s last year, when constant ultimatums from the front office, devastating injuries, and a freak cloud of bugs on a warm September night in Cleveland forced him from a job he loved.

Through it all, Torre kept his calm, kept his players’ respect, and kept winning.

And, of course, The Yankee Years chronicles the amazing stories on the diamond. The stirring comeback in the 1996 World Series against the heavily favored Braves. The wonder of 1998, when Torre led the Yanks to the most wins in Major League history. The draining and emotional drama of the 2001 World Series. The incredible twists and turns of the epic Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, in which two teams who truly despised each other battled pitch by pitch until the stunning extra-inning home run.

Here is a sweeping narrative of Major League Baseball in the Yankee era, a book both grand in its scope and fascinating in its details.


About the Author

Joe Torre played for the Braves, the Cardinals, and the Mets before managing all three teams. From 1996 to 2007, Torre managed the New York Yankees. He is currently the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

An insightful look at America's game, February 3, 2009
By Julie Neal "The Complete Walt Disney World" (Sanibel Island, Fla.)


I am not a Yankee fan. I am not a Red Sox fan. I have no dog in this fight.

Now, with that out of the way, I hope you'll give me a fair shake at this.

My opinion: this is a good read, at times even gripping. Its value lies beyond what gossip it contains about A-Rod or how it gets back at the Steinbrenners. It's an inside look at how baseball has changed, in ways that are often not that good.

I thought The Yankee Years would be a routine behind-the-scenes tell-all, but its ambitions are bigger. It chronicles the end of an era in baseball, a more innocent time before steroid scandals, big money and executive decisions based on advanced statistical analysis.

This is not a Joe Torre memoir. Torre provides his voice and viewpoint throughout the book, but Verducci also quotes dozens and dozens of other key personalities. He weaves it all into a fascinating narrative that covers all the highs and lows of the Yankee's dynasty years.

The book throws a spotlight on many key players from this era. Some shine, others don't. David Cone, Mike Mussina and Derek Jeter shine. Jeter, in particular, impresses throughout with his sunny optimism and quiet leadership. If you weren't a Jeter fan before, you will be after reading it.

There has been a lot of buzz about Torre dissing players in these pages. The "A-Fraud" reference to Alex Rodriguez is a throwaway reference to what guys in the clubhouse -- not Torre -- called A-Rod in 2004, about how the player tried to fit in during his first season as a Yankee. "People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel, were calling him `A-Fraud' behind his back." Instead, Torre offers his clear-eyed assessment of Rodriguez as a player who can't succeed as a team player because of his fear of failure. "There's a certain free-fall you have to go through," he says, "when you commit yourself without a guarantee that it's always going to be good. There's a sort of trust, a trust and commitment thing that has to allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be embarrassed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And sometimes players aren't willing to do that."

It's almost biblical the way it all ends. A cloud of midges on a hot Cleveland night dooms the Yankees in a key playoff game. Thousands of the irritating insects descend on the mound, thoroughly rattling the pitcher. Bug spray makes the torment worse, not better. This perfect swarm seals Torre's fate. He is fired not long after the loss, in a painful 10-minute meeting where he realizes his own personal Judas is his long-time general manager, Brian Cashman. "Cashman had retreated to silence with Torre's job on the line. The allies of Joe Torre had dwindled to zero."

Throughout the arc of this tale, Torre comes across as calm, determined and fair.

I should admit I do have a slight bias. When I was in junior high growing up outside St. Louis, Joe Torre taught me to play infield. He was playing third base for the Cardinals then. He appeared at the community center in my neighborhood outside the city one day and gave a handful of us kids a free lesson. I'll never forget it; he was patient and explained the game in detail, like he actually cared that we understood it. I learned a lot in that hour, from a decent man.

Here's the chapter list:

1. Underdogs
2. A Desperation to Win
3. Getting an Edge
4. The Boss
5. Mystique and Aura
6. Baseball Catches Up
7. The Ghosts Make a Final Appearance
8. The Issues of Alex
9. Marching to Different Drumbeats
10. End of the Curse
11. The Abyss
12. Broken Trust
13. "We Have a Problem"
14. The Last Race
15. Attack of the Midges
16. The End

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