Almost Yankees

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

As a longtime Yankees fan, this book brought back a lot of memories.  The Columbus Clippers were the AAA farm team for the Yankees when I was a kid, and this book captures the joy of that time, and the team and players.  Highly recommended for any baseball fan!
Was this review helpful?
This is an at times interesting look at the 1981 Columbus Clippers season. For several months in the middle of the season, the Clippers were the best team in baseball. Why? The major league players were on strike and, as a result, the Clippers not national TV and radio attention.

The book was uneven, with some absolutely terrific spots and some less than stellar spots. It benefits somewhat by the fact that the author was a huge fan of this team. For baseball fans who like a nostalgic look at baseball seasons gone by, this might be something they'd like.
Was this review helpful?
I should probably preface this review by stating that I am not a baseball fan. The closest I've come to a game is reading Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding. However, there's something about baseball that’s just so inviting, and it's books like this that make me consider devoting my time to it.

I went into this novel expecting to appreciate J. David Herman's lifelong love of baseball and his enthusiasm for the minor league, and it delivered. If you're seeking a hard-hitting baseball novel, this isn't it Herman winds his own memoir into the text and it is his love for both the game and the Columbus Clippers that made it so interesting. Many of the names initially meant nothing to me; the only name I knew was Babe Ruth and I thought he played in the 60s, but he was long dead by that point. Now having finished the novel I have some fond favourites and I feel almost as if I had grown up with them too. Rizzuto’s use of ‘ww’ for ‘wasn’t watching’ just about sums up my life. 

Herman's style bridges the gap between fiction and non-fiction. From the offset, the narrative tone is for me set as a smooth Midwestern voice. The prose is simple but effective. Although, at times I wished there had been more attention paid to the structuring of sentences and the general flow. There were a few moments where I thought I’d missed something, but after going back, I’d realise that the paragraph just didn’t make sense.  

It was helpful that photos of those mentioned in the text were included, although I would have preferred a player index with them all collated and a small bio for each player as they sometimes intruded on the narrative.
Was this review helpful?
ALMOST YANKEES, by J. David Herman, tells the forgotten story of the 1981 Columbus Clippers, the AAA minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees.  When Major League Baseball went on strike, this ragtag team of up and coming stars and grizzled veterans were thrust into the spotlight.  Some of the players continued to mature into major leaguers, while for others, this was their last and maybe only time to shine.
   Herman tells the story of the team and all of its players with such passion and vigor.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the manager, Frank Verdi, who could probably have a book written just about him and his antics.  Many of Herman's stories of the individual players were well-researched and fun to read about and his tales of George Steinbrenner reflected a feeling of awe, coupled with a hearty dose of eye-rolling at some of his ridiculous choices based on personal animosities.  Herman does try to tie in national stories in 1981, I think to try and create a fuller feeling of the time, but those interludes in the book just seem clunky and random and took away from my enjoyment of the book.  Herman also splices in his personal story at certain parts and while I appreciate how baseball can tying into one's life deeply, I wish there was some sort of indication of this in the title of the book.  Generally, the layout of the book felt very clunky and uneven.
   Some really fun stories from the 1918 Columbus Clippers that I won't soon forget, ALMOST YANKEES does take me back to a pleasantly different time in baseball that is lost in today's world.  Any baseball fan is going to come away from this book with a new appreciation for minor leaguers and some great tales of baseball lore.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this book.

Almost Yankees follows the Columbus Clippers, the AAA team for the New York Yankees during the tumultuous 1981 season. It focuses on the players and coaches during the season as well as their subsequent baseball careers, in addition to exploring the significance of baseball in Columbus, Ohio. The book is generally an enjoyable read, with interesting personal anecdotes about the author's upbringing, childhood, and adult life. Stories about players both famous, infamous and anonymous are discussed. This reviewer is a life-long Yankees fan and found the work to be enjoyable and insightful. The book follows the course of the season but is not constrained by it.
Some mild criticism of the book are include an under-theorizing of why winning (as opposed to development) matter at AAA, and a sporadic use of personal anecdote. The author's struggles with his father, weight, relationships, loneliness, and success are mentioned but not discussed in depth. There are many players mentioned and sometimes it was hard to keep track of all of them.
Overall this book is a welcome edition to any baseball shelf. It is not constrained by the 81 season. More books about minor league baseball should be written.
Was this review helpful?
This book is well intentioned, but a serious disappointment in that the author varies between the 1981 Columbus Clippers season and the background on some of the players and his life and wanderings outside of what was supposed to be the subject of the book. That said, it is an interesting read though nowhere as good as it could have been based on Herman's writing style.

I received a free Kindle copy othis book and it was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook and Twitter pages.
Was this review helpful?
As someone who is the same age of the author, this book brought back so many memories of the summer of 81. Suffering thought the strike and following the clippers ga,es I too vividly remember these games. It was wonderful to get the behind the scenes perspective, I still remembers all the players in the IL that are mentioned in this book. The coverage of Andre Robertson was great. I never new about his past at UT. GREAT STUFF AND A GREAT READ
Was this review helpful?
In 1981, the first strike to interrupt a major league baseball season occurred. However, minor league baseball was still played and one of the best teams that season was the Columbus Clippers, the AAA farm club of the New York Yankees. J. David Herman was an 11-year old superfan of this team until his family relocated to California.  His memories are the inspiration for this book about that team.

Herman shares stories about many of the players such as Brad Gulden, John Pacella, Steve Balboni and Dave Righetti, although he only spent a short amount of time on the Clippers before being recalled by the Yankees. However, it isn’t only players who are portrayed in the book. Manager Frank Verdi, broadcaster Rick Rizzs and umpire Bill Emslie are just a few of the other people Herman talks about when he reminisces about the Clippers.

In addition to reviewing the championship season for Columbus, Herman includes passages about other events, baseball and otherwise, that took place in 1981. Of those, he talks most about the Yankees, which is logical since that was the parent club of his favorite baseball team. Righetti is the subject of most of these segments, but other Clippers like Balboni and Pacella who also made the big club are included.

What makes this book stand out more than others about a particular season or team are Herman’s personal memories about the team. These go well beyond simply memories at the ball park with his father or meeting the players.  For example, when he was attending college at the University of Washington, Herman would catch Seattle Mariners games on the radio – and one of the Mariners’ broadcasters was none other than Rick Rizzs. Herman’s writing about hearing Rizzs over the airwaves and imagining he was calling a Clippers game was excellent. 

Fans of minor league baseball will enjoy this book as they could relate to many of the stories. Herman has brought one of the best minor league teams back to life in this book and it will take the reader back to that glorious summer in Columbus when the Clippers were the kings of the baseball universe. 

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderful reflection of what it means to be a fan and the profound effect a team can have on people. Part memoir, part adulation, and part historical record, this book thoroughly captures the 1981 Columbus Clippers tremendous season and the impact it had on the sport of baseball during a time where baseball needed a distraction the most. You are introduced to the rookies, vets, and rejects that constructed the team and gain a greater appreciation of what it means to be a team. There are crazy superstitions, a 33 inning game, and  import baseball influencers inserted throughout the book.
Was this review helpful?
is about more than sport itself. David Herman was schoolboy fan of the 1981 Columbus Clippers, the New York Yankees' Triple A farm team and he recounts the tale of the season when the spotlight fell upon them given that there was a strike which halted the Major League season.

Herman has researched far and wide and spoken to nearly thirty of the team members and he ha provided a beautifully written account of what happened throughout what was a memorable season and also the fate of so many of the players who in many cases were so near - but also so far from making it in The Show and having a Major League career.

I am a sports and baseball junkie and thoroughly enjoyed how Herman also interposed his own life, family and upbringing into the story.

Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?