cover image Wild, High and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin

Wild, High and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin

Peter Golenbock. St. Martin's Press, $23.95 (545pp) ISBN 978-0-312-10575-4

Martin (1928-1989) grew up poor in Berkeley, Calif. A high school drop-out, he tried out for the Oakland baseball team of the Pacific Coast League; the manager was Casey Stengel, who took Martin to New York when he became manager of the Yankees. There Martin played a key role on several championship teams. But a drunken fistfight--which seems to be Martin's favorite recreation--at a nightclub ended his Yankee career. The other central figure in this book is Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. In alternating chapters Golenbock shows how the lives of Martin and Steinbrenner paralleled each other, which, ironically, highlights Martin's achievements and magnifies Steinbrenner's ineptitude. Golenbock ( The Bronx Zoo ) looks into Martin's womanizing, his prodigious drinking and his death in a car accident. Although his friend, Bill Reedy, was charged with driving while impaired, Golenbock maintains that Martin was the drunk driver. This is an extremely thorough and comprehensive biography of one of baseball's most controversial figures. Photos. Major ad/promo; author tour. (June)