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The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-from-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series- and America's Heart-During the Great Depression [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 28, 2008
Publisher   PublicAffairs
ISBN  1586485687  
EAN  9781586485689  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
With "The Gashouse Gang," John Heidenry delivers the definitive account of one the greatest and most colorful baseball teams of all times, the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, filled with larger-than-life baseball personalities like Branch Rickey, Leo Durocher, Pepper Martin, Casey Stengel, Satchel Paige, Frankie Frisch, and--especially-- the eccentric good ol' boy and great pitcher Dizzy Dean and his brother Paul.

The year 1934 marked the lowest point of the Great Depression, when the U.S. went off the gold standard, banks collapsed by the score, and millions of Americans were out of work. Epic baseball feats offered welcome relief from the hardships of daily life. The Gashouse Gang, the brilliant culmination of a dream by its general manager, Branch Rickey, the first to envision a farm system that would acquire and "educate" young players in the art of baseball, was adored by the nation, who saw itself--scruffy, proud, and unbeatable--in the Gang.

Based on original research and told in entertaining narrative style, "The Gashouse Gang" brings a bygone era and a cast full of vivid personalities to life and unearths a treasure trove of baseball lore that will delight any fan of the great American pastime.

Buy The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-from-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series- and America's Heart-During the Great Depression by John Heidenry from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781586485689 & 1586485687

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More About John Heidenry

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Heidenry is a native of St. Louis and was the founding editor, in 1977, of St. Louis magazine and the St. Louis Literary Supplement. He is currently the Executive Editor of The Week. The author of several previous books, he lives in New York City.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mostly Diz  Jul 1, 2008
When I was a boy, I used to watch Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blatner (later, Peewee Reese) on the "Game of the Week" every Saturday afternoon. I remember Ol' Diz driving the English teachers crazy with his fractured English.

The Ol' Diz in Heidenry's book isn't quite so loveable. He went on strike in the middle of the 1934 season, demanding a larger salary for him and his brother Paul; he was a braggart, and he laughed at Hank Greenberg's futility against his pitches in the World Series. I find that last example rather hard to believe since a hitter can always drag bunt and take it out on the pitcher at first base.

The title of Heidenry's book is somewhat misleading. Most of the book is about Dizzy, I would imagine because Heidenry had the most information about him and because Diz was the most colorful of the Gashouse Gang. Heidenry refers to Ducky Medwick as a solitary loaner who picked fights with his fellow Cardinals, but the only evidence he gives us is a fight with Paul Dean that Dean started. The second most talked about player is Leo Durocher. Heidenry details his many marriages, his pool hustling, and his bench jockeying capabilities, but there's not that much detail. Heidenry limits himself, for the most part, to play-by-play, especially in respect to the 1934 World Series. About the most interesting segment was Heidenry's explanation of how the Gashouse Gang got its name. Apparently they were named after a New York street gang from the gashouse district of New York, an especially depressed area of the city. They were generally unshaven and their uniforms were dirty and in need of repair.

We also get a brief look at Dizzy's childhood as a sharecropper and his time spent in the Army, which helped him get onto a semi-pro team, which in turn led to an eventual contract with the Cardinals. Dizzy also had an older brother named Elmer, whom Branch Rickey gave a job as a peanut vender at Sportsman's Park. Dizzy and his wife Pat were embarrassed and demanded an office job for Elmer. Rickey wouldn't relent and Elmer wound up back in Arkansas.

The epilogue also leaves quite a bit to be desired. Heidenry tells us Dizzy only had four good years in the majors because he got hurt, but he doesn't tell us how. Legend has it he was hit in the foot by a come backer, broke his toe, and came back too soon, damaging his arm. Heidenry also leaves out the beaning incident that ruined Ducky Medwick's career. He was able to play but he was never the same player.

If you're a baseball fan, there's enough in THE GASHOUSE GANG to keep you turning pages. There's an occasional tidbit I didn't know, such as the beaning Dizzy took when he tried to take out the second baseman during the World Series. That's where the famous quote, "They ex-rayed my head, but there was nothing there," came from. Heidenry also provides a bibliography that may provide some answers. Try St. Louis sportswriter J. Roy Stockton's THE GASHOUSE GANG AND A COUPLE OF OTHER GUYS. It was published in 1945, and Stockton was actually alive to see the Gashouse Gang play.
Will we ever see their like again?  Jan 1, 2008
This was a fun read marred by an annoying and inexcusable flaw: The book's poorly edited. The author's often entertaining anecdotes are more often then not inserted into the story in ways that break up the already choppy narrative flow: a sin of using a word processor and being in too much of a hurry. In addition to mistaking the Phillies for the A's (which other reviewers have noted), Heidenry loses an out in an exhaustive recounting of Detroit's half of the third inning in the pivotal sixth game of the Series. In addition, the author quotes a columnist (a certain "Polner") on page 120 without any description of who he was. (A quick check of the index gives his full name as "Murray Polner"; anyone interested has to look elsewhere to find out who he was, something even a half decent editor would have caught). And was the long account of the 1934 All-Star game really necessary?
The book's strengths are its attempt to discover the origin of the sobriquet "Gashouse Gang," the description of Dizzy's and Branch Rickey's early life, and the account of the battle Dizzy waged for higher compensation for himself and his brother during the summer of '34. (By the way, the author might have mentioned the dramatic Minneapolis Teamsters strike led by Trotskyists that year which may have also inspired Dizzy in his efforts to stand up to the club's owner, general manager, and later the commissioner). In any event, what a brave guy Dizzy was! Will we ever see his like again on a ball field?
Baseball lover's only!  Sep 22, 2007
Baseball in times long passed was a very different game, but like today there were some really wild characters to mke the game all the more interesting. The 1934 Cardinals, "The Gashouse Gang" were an exciting, odd collection of great ball payers who played for the love of the game in a way we wish today's players did.

If you love baseball you won't be able to put this down, and even if you don't it will be too intriquing to stop reading once you start. Well written, well researched and as entertaining as anything I've read this season. Highly reccommended!
The Gashouse Gang Personalities  Sep 15, 2007
This book climbs to the top wrung of my baseball ladder. Rather than a statistical or play-by-play book so common in baseball pages, this features personality development of some of the wackiest players of all time. Learn that Ducky Joe should have been Mean Joe, that Leo the Lip couldn't handle relationships, or that Dizzy Dean was really Jerome or Jay or Hanna or Herman, maybe that he was from Arkansas or Oklahoma or Texas -- well, you get it.

This book captures the thrill of a season and the joy of a team effort. It really makes you think of the Oakland Athletics of the Catfish days.

Just one observation: John Heidenry missed the point of the moniker, "Gashouse Gang." He can't figure out where it came from. He even ponders how "Gas Tank" became "Gashouse." During that day, electricity was provided by manufactured gas plants, sometimes called "witch's brew." The main structure was known as the "gashouse." The working class fellows who toiled away in those dirty gashouses were known as "the gashouse gangs." They cursed, they played dirty and hilarious tricks on each other, they had great and sour dispositions -- necessary to get through the tough days, and yes, their clothes were always filthy. Sound like the beloved Gashouse Gang?

Snag this book, and you will enjoy several hours of quiet time, if you can block out your own laughter.
Me 'n' Paul  Sep 2, 2007
In baseball, 1934 was a year to remember, a year in which the Saint Louis Cardinals, a scruffy team of misfits and malcontents, came from almost the graveyard to win the National League pennant, and then the World Series. While we learn a tremendous amount about the Cardinals, and especially the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Paul, there are others about whom we receive thumbnail biographies. Most importantly, Branch Rickey is focused upon for much of the early part of the book, and just reading about this remarkable man is sufficient reason to study this book. Other famous players make cameo appearances: Babe Ruth, Mel Otto, Mickey Cochrane, Leo Durocher, and Pie Traynor, with whom I was once priviledged to have an extensive conversation about baseball when I was in college. I also remember listening to Dizzy on the television announcing(?) games and talking about all kinds of extraneous subjects other than the game he was supposed to be calling. Of course, Dizzy is the centerpiece of this book, and he strides through it like a colossus. He did things then that would not be tolerated by a basseball organization today, and perhaps we are the pooorer for not having men such as him (and Curt Flood)to challenge what is considered the "right" way to act as a porfessional ball player. He's gone, and so are all of those famous old-timers, and the world misses them!

Write your own review about The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-from-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series- and America's Heart-During the Great Depression

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