Reading About the History of the Yankees

Today I started reading the excellent new book by Marty Appel, Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss.  It's a comprehensive, well-written, incredibly researched chronology of the storied legacy of arguably the greatest sports franchise in the world.

Yes, I'm biased, being a diehard Bronx Bombers fanatic, but even if you are a Yankee-hater, you might still gain some enjoyment from reading this marvelous history book. The first few chapters alone paint an eye-opening picture of baseball at the turn of the 1900s (pitchers throwing spitballs before it was banned, the American League being formed as a "more genteel" option to counter the raucous, umpire-abusing, non-family friendly perception of the National League, the New York Giants refusing to play in the World Series because it might "dilute" their Pennant victory if they lost) and life in New York (firefighters in horse-drawn wagons rushing to save the burning Polo Grounds in the middle of the night, the legislative fight to allow baseball to be played on Sundays).

On a personal note, I also appreciated the acknowledgement by the author of my colleague and friend Bob Heinisch for his help in getting the book written.  Those of you who don't know Mr. Heinisch, he is one of the greatest Yankee fans around, and a terrific guy.  Coincidentally, his birthday was on Sunday and we will be celebrating his retirement this week. In the almost ten years that I have known him, he has been an inspiration with his strong work ethic and his willingness to always help me out with advice, a pat on the back, or just a friendly conversation whenever I needed one. And he's also one of the best public speakers I've ever met.  Ask anybody, they'll tell you it's always tough to follow Mr. Heinisch when giving a presentation!

Maybe it's because we have some mutual things in common (baseball, movies, the Bronx), and maybe it's because he reminds me a bit of my dad (who happens to be a Mets fan and is also retiring this summer), but whatever the reason, I'm going to really miss working with Mr. Heinisch.  He is one of a kind.  Yankee greats are immortalized in Monument Park, but folks like Bob should be remembered too. He introduced me to Mickey Rivers, Doc Gooden, Ken Singleton, and other baseball greats, but as much as I was awed meeting those legends of the game, I was also honored to just listen to Mr. Heinisch share his stories about my favorite team, the film history we both admired, and the borough that we both love. 

Happy birthday and happy retirement, Mr. Heinisch.  And go, Yankees!