Where Have All Our Yankees Gone?: Past the Pinstripes
More than 30 years ago, Roger Kahn's bittersweet remembrance of his 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers heroes, The Boys of Summer, spawned an entire genre of sentimental, where-are-they-now baseball books. Jensen's contribution to the lot updates readers on 56 men who wore the legendary pinstriped uniform of the Bronx Bombers. Every baseball fan knows about Mickey Mantle's battle with alcohol, Yogi Berra's feud and reconciliation with George Steinbrenner and the long campaign to get Phil Rizzuto enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Jensen--who heckled Yankees megastars such as Reggie Jackson as a boy growing up in Texas--wisely avoids such well-worn turf, and instead focuses on the bench-warmers and journeymen who filled out the rosters of the good Yankee squads and the mediocrities who populated the bad ones. Horace Clarke, Ron Davis, Ed Figueroa, Ray Fontenot, Xavier Hernandez, Jimmy Jones, Roger Repoz and Thad Tillotson are hardly household names, but they all will be familiar to dedicated fans; and with such an obscure cast of characters, there are enough oddball facts in Jensen's pages to fill many a rain delay and fuel endless barroom conversations. Who knew, for instance, that former rightfielder Jesse Barfield is a professional draftsman and furniture designer who holds 28 U.S. patents? Or that ex-infielder Andre Robertson is a supervisor in a chemical plant? There are poignant moments, too, as players discuss teammates who are no longer around. Jensen's prose isn't quite up to snuff however; chapters are thick with cliches about heroism and the tribulations of life after the game. He also quotes ex-players at length, whether they have something interesting to say anything or not. Still, if you're a true Yankees geek--and there are plenty out there--you will feast on the information in this Who's Who of half-remembered (and in some cases best-forgotten) players.