Yankees' tale

Sykesville man writes book on the team's 1927 season

April 23, 2006|By CASSANDRA A. FORTIN | CASSANDRA A. FORTIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

As a boy growing up in the Bronx in New York, Fred Glueckstein and his friends didn't have organized Little League. So the boys had to be creative in coming up with ways to play baseball.

The most popular way most children in his neighborhood found was to play stickball in the streets until maintenance workers kicked them off.

Occasionally the young athletes took their bats, balls and gloves to a nearby schoolyard where they played baseball until the older kids kicked them out.

Although the youngsters grew up playing in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, located about five blocks from Glueckstein's home, their ball playing was limited to those rare times when they found an open spot.

But Glueckstein managed to get his fill of baseball by attending more than 20 New York Yankees games each season during the 1960s. This helped nurture his love of baseball because times were different back then, Glueckstein said. For one thing, spectators were allowed to exit from the field after the games and to get autographs from the players.

"I spent a lot of time watching Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra play baseball," said Glueckstein, of Sykesville. "You could walk right up to the players and see everything close up."

So it wasn't a stretch when Glueckstein, the director of human capital planning at the Social Security Administration, decided in 1993 to share his love of the game by writing about one of the greatest baseball teams of all time in a book he titled The '27 Yankees.

After spending more than a decade researching and writing the book, Glueckstein had his dream realized when the book, his first, was published in August by Xlibris Corp.

Since then, he has been invited to participate in an author's series to be held July 7 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

At more than 400 pages, the book presents a detailed history of the team's season, starting at spring training and ending at the 1927 World Series. As he rattled off a list of things included in the book, he told stories about events including Charles Lindbergh's appearance at a game and stories about Babe Ruth.

Glueckstein gives descriptions of each game played by Yankees in the 1927 season, including player line-ups and important events that occurred on and off the field, such as the home run battle between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Compiling the book took more than a decade of research. Although he attended a lot of later games and loved baseball, he didn't know a lot about the 1927 Yankees when he started the project, he said.

"I knew about Ruth and Gehrig, but I wanted to learn about the players people didn't know anything about," Glueckstein said. "I wanted to learn about what baseball was like in a different era."

So he began frequenting the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. During his research sessions, he read thousands of newspaper accounts from the New York Times, the New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, the Herald Tribune and other publications. As he voraciously read everything about the team, he came across other items of interest.

"The more I read, the more I realized I had to go back even further than Opening Day of the 1927 season so the story would make sense," Glueckstein said.

He started with the seventh game of the 1926 World Series, which the Yankees lost when Babe Ruth tried to steal second. The Yankees had two outs, and Ruth was tagged. His team lost the series.

During his research, he found a great deal of little-known information about the team.

For example, one story gave a detailed account of Opening Day of the 1927 season.

"The articles I read said more than 72,000 people came to the opening game played on April 12, 1927. It was the largest crowd in history at a baseball game to that point," said Glueckstein. "People came to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb play baseball."

He also compiled biographical information on some of the players. He eventually ended up in Cooperstown, where the Baseball Hall of Fame keeps files on every player in history.

"I really enjoyed the research aspects of this book," Glueckstein said. "It's a history of the team and its players that I hope fills a void of missing pieces that real baseball fans will like."

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