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January 10, 2013

Local author's book debunks baseball myths

(Continued)

I only found three possible flaws with the book.

At one point Deane tries to disprove the idea that the Kansas City A’s were essentially a farm team for the New York Yankees during the 1950s. Deane might be right, but is likely to provoke a debate with another local author. Cooperstown mayor, Jeff Katz, wrote an entire book on the subject, “The Kansas City A’s and the Wrong Half of the Yankees,” and is quite convincing that the A’s were providing players for the Bronx Bombers. After reading both accounts I would have to side with Katz making the more compelling argument.

The second one involves a myth that Deane debunks too well. In trying to prove that the head-first slide is less dangerous than the feet first one, Deane is so determined to make his case that he lists more than 60 examples where a runner hurts himself sliding feet first. Five or six would have sufficed. I lost interest after that.

Finally, in describing probably the biggest controversy in baseball history, whether or not Babe Ruth called his home run in the 1932 World Series, Deane may have got the myth backwards. I always thought the legend was that Ruth pointed his finger to the center field stands for his “called shot.”

Deane says the myth is that he never pointed at all. The truth is that he did point his finger but probably at the Chicago Cubs’ dugout where they were taunting him. It would explain why eyewitness accounts have people both swearing he pointed or he didn’t. Whatever the truth, Deane at least provides a thorough discussion of the incident.

These “flaws” are just minor details or maybe just a “myth.” For anyone who loves baseball this is an enlightening read. It covers so much ground that you are bound to learn something you didn’t know before. Like Babe Ruth’s “called shot” baseball provides a lot of intrigue. Deane just brings it out.

David Kent is the director of the Village Library of Cooperstown. He can be reached at co.david@4cls.org.

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