Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball

Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball

Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball

Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball

Synopsis

From the sandlots of San Francisco to the power centers of baseball, this book tells the story of Joe Cronin, one of twentieth-century baseball's major players, both on the field and off.
For most of his playing career, Cronin (1906–84) was the best shortstop in baseball. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956, he was a manager by the age of twenty-six and a general manager at forty-one. He was the youngest player-manager ever to play in the World Series, and he managed the Red Sox longer than any other man in history. As president of the American League, he oversaw two expansions, four franchise shifts, and the revolutionary and controversial introduction of the designated-hitter rule, which he wrote himself.
This book follows Cronin from his humble beginnings to his position as one of the most powerful figures in baseball. Mark Armour explores Cronin's time as a player as well as his role in some of the game's fiercest controversies, from the creation of the All-Star Game to the issue of integration. Bringing to life one of baseball's definitive characters, this book supplies a crucial and fascinating chapter in the history of America's pastime.

Excerpt

Tuesday, may 29, 1984, was a damp and miserable night at Fenway Park. the Boston Red Sox were playing host to the Minnesota Twins, and it was Jimmy Fund night, an annual affair from which the Red Sox donated all net proceeds to the team’s long-time charity. Making the event historical, the Red Sox planned a pregame celebration to retire the uniform numbers of Ted Williams (9) and Joe Cronin (4), the first players they had ever so honored. Only 15,472 tickets were sold, however, and fewer than ten thousand fans braved the conditions to head to the park for a game that might not be played. in the Boston Globe the next day, Peter Gammons referred to the dismal crowd as “the bittersweet part of the occasion” and reflective of “the state of the franchise’s current interest.” Though the season was just eight weeks old, the club was already seventeen games out of first place.

The Red Sox decision to retire the two numbers, announced the previous November, had been met with some confusion. No one had worn Williams’s number since his dramatic home run twentyfour years earlier in the final at bat of his storied career, and most fans believed that his number had already been retired. in fact, the club had never held a ceremony, made a public pronouncement, or recognized the number anywhere in the park. They had just never let anyone else wear it. As for Cronin’s 4, it had been worn regularly in the thirty-seven years since Cronin took it off in 1947, most recently by Carney Lansford in 1982. Few fans would have known what number Cronin had worn.

John Harrington, a team consultant and future ceo, had pushed for this night. He had lobbied Haywood Sullivan and Jean Yawkey, the team’s two principal owners, both of whom were initially reluctant. Once you start retiring numbers, they felt, when does it stop? To combat this argument, Harrington set out to develop a strict set of . . .

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