The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of
by J. David Herman
Pub Date 01 Apr 2019
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The Clippers’ raw recruits, prospects, and Minor League veterans responded to this opportunity by playing the greatest baseball of their lives on the greatest team most of them would ever belong to. Then the strike ended, leaving them to return to their ordinary aspirational lives and to be just as quickly forgotten.
Almost Yankees is the previously untold baseball story of a team and its players performing in the shadow of one of the sport’s most famous teams and infamous owners. Featuring interviews with more than thirty former players (including Steve Balboni, Dave Righetti, Buck Showalter, and Pat Tabler) and dozens of other baseball and media figures, this season’s narrative chronicles success, failure, resilience, and redemption as told by a special group of players with hopes and dreams of big-league glory. J. David Herman, who worshipped the team as an eleven-year-old, tracked down his old heroes to learn their stories—and to better understand his own. The season proved to be a launching pad for some, a final chance for others, and the end of the dream for many others.
“Columbus discovered America. David Herman discovered Columbus. What Herman, a great explorer in his own right, found was a cherished boyhood filled with baseball. Heroes. Homers. Memories. It’s pure Americana. Herman takes us back in time and lets us share in his life-changing summer. It’ll make you feel good.”—Dan Raley, author of Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers
“I was there, in Columbus working at Franklin County Stadium during the summer of 1981. Reading J. David Herman’s Almost Yankees is like sitting with an old friend, going over old times and telling stories of a time when baseball was still a game, the summer full of magic, and each of us, in our own way, still dreamed of making the major leagues. Almost Yankees is a book for anyone who has ever fallen in love with baseball.”—Glenn Stout, author of Young Woman and the Sea and series editor of The Best American Sports Writing
“Almost Yankees is amazing. Thanks to J. David Herman for reminding me of one of the greatest years of my life in baseball through his words and stories in this book.”—Rick Rizzs, radio voice of the ’81 Columbus Clippers and longtime Seattle Mariners broadcaster