BY ROBERT COHEN
Hey Baseball Fans. Like the Yankees or Red Sox? Maybe you like one or the other or hate them both?
Whatever your thoughts are on the two storied franchises (who have a rich baseball history in tradition along with their dedicated followers) you won’t want to miss Robert Cohen’s evaluations of the Fifty (50) Greatest Yankees or Red Sox players of all time.
The Yankees book was published back in 2012 and the Red Sox book just came out a few weeks back. Due to the similarities and style in the manner it was written in, I chose to do a double review of both books which I have just completed.
The first thing I want to say is that Robert Cohen does a fine job on giving us a background of both teams and their places in baseball history. The second thing I want to say is these books are really good book on mini bios of all the 50 greatest players for both teams. If you don’t want to read full bios that are 500 pages long and just want a snap shot of the players’ careers and how they contributed to the game and for each team, these books are for you.
The structure of these books and the players that are written about makes for an enjoyable and educational read. For every player from 1-50, Mr. Cohen breaks down the players by a 3-5 page bio, career highlights (including best season), most memorable moments and each players achievements and awards.
The main thing I want you readers to know is that you might not agree with the numerical order that Mr. Cohen places his opinions about where each player should be and why. That’s ok, you don’t have to. As you read through the books, Mr. Cohen will mention his struggles to place each player from his contributions to the teams.
A hard sell from the beginning with a Yankee organization who hires and fires its players at will for the last 100 years, this was a big obstacle for Mr. Cohen. The nature of the game is that players tend to change addresses more than once in their careers. Some many times (Reggie Jackson) and some not as frequently (Jeter). Cohen further used very strong scales in evaluating players. I won’t give away all the secrets of his book, but the evaluation was not based on traditional statistics alone. Considering different eras and the nature of contributions that a player could have on his team, Cohen used a balanced scale to prepare his list. Let’s be fair- this was not a simple undertaking by the author. The merits of Yankee players throughout the years is one of the most debated baseball topics going. No matter what forms of evaluations are used to rank the players, it will be impossible to find a room full of baseball fans (let alone baseball fans that will disagree).
You miss baseball. We all do. Until players start reporting to spring training, it is important to keep occupied and get your much-needed baseball-fix. Baseball books is an excellent place to begin this offseason. You can’t go wrong with the 50 Greatest Yankees. You will enjoy the stories and statistics. The book will make you think and love baseball. I guarantee that you will learn countless baseball facts that you never knew before. Given the tradition of the New York Yankees, it would be impossible to include their entire history in under 300 pages. 50+ great stories though, now that is feasible. A great job by Robert Cohen in adding another great volume to legacy of the New York Yankees. From Ruth to Righetti, and everyone in-between, The 50 Greatest Players in New York Yankees History is simply a must read. It’s not complicated. It’s just a great old fashioned baseball read. And that works for me just fine
The Red Sox
As for the Red Sox. The Boston Red Sox are one of the most iconic baseball teams, representing not just a city or a state, but an entire region—it’s the only professional baseball team in New England. Baseball greats such as Cy Young and Babe Ruth wore the uniform early in their careers and many other players, including Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, and Johnny Damon have played with New England’s beloved ball club.
Like the Yankees book, you’ll enjoy the stories and facts you might not have known. The main thing you get out of this book is that you’ll have a solid foundation of the Red Sox, its players and the history of the storied New England team.
What I like about the Sox is that Mr. Cohen traces both the historical significance of a losing franchise to a winning one with the players who were great on the losing teams for so long and the winners and how Red Sox history was changed since 2004.
As a Yankee fan living in New England since 1993, I saw both ends of the pole. I remember in the 1999 ALCS, when the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, Yogi Berra remarked to Bernie Williams, don’t worry we always beat these guys to the sock it to them Aaron Boone’s homerun in Yankee Stadium in 2003 to send the Yankees into the World Series over the disheartened Sox fans and of course the great Yankee collapse in 2004 to the Red Sox, where the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
In conclusion, you’ll love both these books if you are a fan or not. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is legendary, and an understanding of both ball clubs through Robert Cohen’s historical accounts will educate the reader outside of the media hyped realm.
With the holidays coming, both of these books are recommended for stocking stuffers for the baseball fans at heart or anyone curious enough to delve into both teams history and legendary players that helped write the history on each ball club.