Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Book Notes

December 6, 2012

Book examines great quarterback controversy

(Continued)

The late Bill Walsh was the head coach of the 49ers at the time. He won three Super Bowls in his 10 years with the team, so there was no doubting his acumen. By the mid-1980s his All-World starter, Montana, was getting so beat up that Walsh didn’t think he would last more than a couple of seasons.

Hence, he engineered a trade for Young in 1987 with the apparent promise that he would start by the beginning of the 1988 season.

Walsh was right as far as Montana’s fragility was concerned. He suffered from major back and elbow problems. He always seemed to miss a game here and there, which provided Young with multiple opportunities to start. Montana later missed almost two full seasons due to injuries.

However, Walsh underestimated Montana’s competitiveness. He wasn’t about to give up. He kept coming back to reclaim his job as the starter, leaving Young sympathetic and frustrated at the same time. Montana was at the helm to win his third and fourth Super Bowls in 1988 and ‘89 and was treated like a deity by the fans. How was Young going to overcome that?

Despite leading the 49ers to the NFL championship games in 1991 and ‘92 while Montana was out injured and being named the league’s Most Valuable Player in ‘92, Young was still not accepted by the Montana-worshiping 49er fans. It grew worse when the team acquiesced to Montana’s request for a trade before the ‘93 season to the Kansas City Chiefs. Redemption and acceptance didn’t come to Young until he led the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl win, over San Diego following the 1994 season.

The whole story behind the two Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks facing the pressure of competing against one another is graphically told by Adam Lazarus in his new book, “Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the Inside Story Behind the Greatest Quarterback Controversy.” It describes the backgrounds of both players as they grew up, excelled in college, and eventually ended up together on the best pro football team of the 1980s. The situation created a tremendous amount of pressure on both players as their talent and competitive spirit never let them truly become close.

Text Only
Book Notes
  • Despite good reviews some movies disappoint Sometimes a popular movie can be difficult to evaluate. It may be a hit at the box office, receive great reviews, and earn multiple Oscar nominations. But what if it didn't really do it for you? How do you rip a film that clearly appeals to the masses? I faced that dilemma with one of the top grossing releases of 2013. I guess I learned that everyone has different tastes.

    August 14, 2014

  • Comparing HOF, Coop, now and then The Baseball Hall of Fame is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and it's amazing how much the Hall has grown since it first opened in 1939. An estimated 48,000 fans journeyed to Cooperstown to watch the induction ceremonies two weeks ago. The annual Hall of Fame weekend has become a major tourist attraction as floods of Hall of Famers and ex-big leaguers descend on the village to celebrate, reminisce, and sign autographs (for a fee). It's all quite a change from its humble beginnings in 1939.

    August 7, 2014

  • Biography of Neil Armstrong shines light on space program We just celebrated the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. We all remember Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, uttering those famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.â€� It was an exciting time for our country and the world. There was talk of a mission to Mars by 1980. Instead, we haven’t been to the moon since 1972 and manned space exploration has become an afterthought. What happened?

    July 31, 2014

  • Early 'blahs' sometimes hide a gem There are often films that sound rather "blah" when you first notice them and have no interest in seeing. It's usually due to the preview either being really stupid or the producers wanting to avoid giving away too much of the plot. If it's the latter category you must be careful. Sometimes there's a gem of a movie hidden behind the facade.

    July 24, 2014

  • 'Moneyball' author tackles Wall Street with 'Flash Boys' Have you ever read a book that feels like it's in a foreign language? It covers a subject you know is important and figure at some point it will all make sense. What do you do when that doesn't happen? Obviously, the easiest solution is to toss the book aside. But what if the underlying message is something you "get" and don't want to give up on? I faced that dilemma recently.

    July 17, 2014

  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

    July 10, 2014

  • 'The Monuments Men' shows important history World War II continues to hold a special place in the hearts of readers and movie goers. The reasons are many but much of it can be traced to the endless number of storylines from that conflict. There is literally a treasure trove of material that keeps emerging. The latest example is the movie, “The Monuments Men.â€�

    July 3, 2014

  • Authors not afraid to think like freaks Conventional wisdom is something we automatically take for granted. It can be something as simple as assuming there is no cure for the common cold or political polls being a good indicator of who will win an election. Common assumptions of course can be wrong but we usually just accept them as fact. However, in many cases it would be much better to think "outside the box" and consider an alternative way of looking at the world.

    June 26, 2014

  • Book goes further into Armstrong's lies There hasn't been a shortage of elite athletes that have fallen from grace in recent years. Most of them have been baseball players who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then lying about it. Golfer Tiger Woods fell from his pedestal because of extra-marital affairs. He has yet to regain his previous aura and perhaps never will. But the loudest crash of all came from cyclist Lance Armstrong who was not only a liar and a cheat but ruined other people's lives in the process.

    June 19, 2014

  • Documentary proves Butch, Sundance still enchant "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the most popular films of all-time. The 1969 Western is based on the real life exploits of two infamous outlaws whose specialty was robbing trains. They became folk heroes because they supposedly never shot anyone.

    June 12, 2014