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Friday, July 4, 2014

Forward to Brook Zelcer's Book: The Little Book of Yankee Evil

"He Who Troubleth His House Shall Inherit the Wind" Proverbs 11:29

The "House that Ruth built" is gone, replaced by a sand lot and parking spaces. The "House that Steinbrenner built" is now next door to that sandlot and is, indeed, inheriting a vile smelling wind.

In the summer of 1962 I sat with my father in the Polo Grounds watching the new national League franchise New York Metropolitans create their own special brand of stink. No one mentioned or commented that just across the Harlem River sat the aforementioned edifice of the powerhouse Yankees, however, it was nigh impossible to not catch a whiff  of some unexplained toxic funk that permeated the field and stands when the wind shifted from the east. Some time around the middle of the game a lurking, jerking small animal crept in from the outfield, vomiting and howling like a banshee. A rabid weasel had been deposited on the field and it was not only vomiting but molting as well. There was a note attached to it's underside on Yankee stationary which read: "Welcome to New York, scumbags".

The bar was in the basement of a building, a late 70's local watering hole for the long haired elite of Lawrence, Kansas. The place was jammed and as I walked in I was engulfed in a blue haze of marijuana smoke. A paper bowl was shoved into my midriff  and I was pushed towards the bar where sat  a multitude of ripe watermelons all injected with  liberal doses of grain alcohol.  I sliced off a huge hunk with the buck knife that had been stabbed into the bar. "This blade being here might be trouble with this dangerous bunch" I thought. I turned to watch the TV that everyone was transfixed to.

The Royals were playing the Yankees for the umpteenth time for the American league pennant, and had lost out the previous years. This year seemed to be different and the buzzing and growing fervor of the crowd meant that good things were happening. The Royals won that night, clinching the American League Pennant. Pandemonium reigned as the Royals celebrated as if they had won the World Series (this would prove to be their swansong as they fell easily to the Phillies in the series). In the bar it was a drunken rampage, fueled with grain alcohol, cheap beer and home grown 2nd generation primo pot. The crowd spilled onto the street screaming deliriously and waving their arms like lunatics just escaped from the asylum. I sat alone watching the highlights. I shall never forget my glee in seeing George Steinbrenner throw up his hands in disgust as he sat in his private box, then he stalked off like a spoiled child. His chief thug, Billy martin, was wondering, I'm sure, if he would be fired yet again for not kissing the boss's ring. It was better than winning the game, the air shifted from the east and was fresh and sweet.

The "Little Book of Yankee Evil" may be just that, little, but it is huge with it's meticulous research and thought provoking prose. The anecdotes are true and the eye opening tales of evil they discuss might make you give up on baseball altogether and join the local dart throwing team. Not since the infamous Gangs of New York and the Five Points has this city known such treachery, such arrogance, and ,yes, such evil. A motley collection of ward wheeling hacks and molesters that will invade your sleep each night.

Fear not, there are enough skeletons in all of baseball so to make any organization not feel left out. Bon Appetit.

Order your copy here: Little Book of Yankee Evil  This is the original version, the update with my forward will be published in the future and I will alert you when that happens.


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