Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame
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Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame

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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  158 ratings  ·  38 reviews
This penetrating, funny book reveals the inner workings of the Hall of Fame: the politics, the players, and the people who own and preserve it. From the history of the founding Clark family to a day on the town with the newly inducted Goose Gossage; from the battle over steroids to the economics of induction and secret campaigns by aspiring players, this is a highly irreve...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published July 1st 2009)
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Mary McCoy
I expected a book filled with scandalous tidbits about the men inducted to the Hall of Fame, and Chafets delivers it. Tris Speaker was a Klansman, Kirby Puckett sexually harassed women, and Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched better drunk than he did sober.

As Chafets puts it, "If we could go back and unlearn that George Washington owned slaves, or that Henry Ford was a fascist, or that Winston Churchill fought World War II drunk, maybe we'd be happier for it. But I doubt we'd be better off."

What...more
Brian Ayres
The many myths of baseball, and for that matter any institutional history, is summed up very well by Zev Chafets this way, "Who gets remembered depends on who owns the mountain." The operators of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown are a collection of myth makers and get exposed very nicely by Chafets' series of essays depicting a vindictive set of greedy businessmen and self-righteous writers who are responsible for producing the narrative of baseball history. Chafets focuses on topics lik...more
Michael
This book seems simultaneously too thin and reasonably comprehensive. Ostensibly, this is something of an exposé about the vaunted “shrine” in Cooperstown and those enshrined figures cast in bronze. It is that – though perhaps only riveting or surprising to naïve tween fans – but it’s also a diatribe for the steroid era. That is, Chafets positions the history of the founding of the institution in the wake of the Doubleday myth (post-sewing dude with innumerable, concurrent wives), the numerous c...more
Rick
In his first baseball-related book, Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Zev Chafets reveals the American institution's inner workings and complex history through a 21st century lens of favoritism, racism, and institutionalized privilege. A lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, Chafets skillfully tracks seven decades of hypocrisy in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

From the very beginning, it required no professional criteria beyond a t...more
Dan Shonka
If you enjoy books about baseball, and the characters who have played the game, this book appears to be one you'd enjoy. Well, that's true about a little more than half of the book. Another fraction of the book will give you a detailed explanation of how entry into the Hall of Fame works. That's pretty interesting, especially since even the most public enshrinements are at least partially shrouded in mystery. The way the Hall changes the rules, and the committees making selections make this part...more
carl  theaker
The Baseball Hall of Fame (HoF) is
considered hallowed ground by baseball
fans, a revered institution. Election to it
gives the player an aura, whether deserved
or not is often debated, but once in, you
are baseball royalty, As well as the HoF
being something all fans look to, a shrine,
it means of course, everyone also complains
about it.

And author Chafets wants to the front the
of line!

Given the subtitle: 'Heroes, Rogues and
the Inside Story' I expected the usual Ty
Cobb was an ornery SOB, and Babe...more
Jeremy
Great arguments here and there, but the author has a hard time hiding the axe he has to grind against the institution and its insiders, and on many subjects (steroids, racism, et al) he is simply rehashing arguments made elsewhere by more knowledgable observers of baseball.
Groucho
I agree with many of the comments of many of the people who gave this 1 or 2 stars. I'm ranking it higher, though. I guess I just enjoyed the book a bit more than they did.

That said, the book has numerous flaws, almost all of which can be attributed to the author's sometimes bizarre conclusions, which are based on anecdotal evidence or conjecture. For example, in his argument for why Marvin Miller should be enshrined in the HOF (which is something I agree with), he discusses this "conspiracy" pe...more
Rob Maynard
I've been in a serious social network debate with a friend of mine about the legitimacy of Dale Murphy's Baseball Hall of Fame candidacy. We dance around the head of a pin throwing out the Mighty Mormon's lifetime statistics with regards to convincing the BBWAA(Baseball Writer's Association of America)to admit him to the heralded halls of the HOF in Cooperstown, New York. I don't think Murph belongs, my friend does. One quick read of this book by Zev Chafets helps focus because of the writer's o...more
Ryan
The author shows incredibly strong writing ability in the preface and gives a plausible, if contrary to what I previously heard, institutional history of the hall of fame. It goes mostly downhill from there.

I very much appreciate the need to kick the legs out from under the conception of old time baseball people as some sort of angels. But Chafets takes anecdotal evidence and presents it in the worst possible light in an inane, vitriolic attack. I had heard some of the anecdotes before, and not...more
Robert
Learned a good amount on the background and creation of the baseball hall of fame. Along with that though Chafets does a good job taking the minority opinion on steroids in baseball. I must say he makes a case for why players such as Bonds and Clemens should one day be in the Hall of Fame. It was a viewpoint that I had not really thought of before, and although I am not sure I totally agree with it I definitely can see his points and respect it. Also some great stuff on Marvin Miller and the cre...more
Richard
Sent to me by a Yankee fan. Nevertheless, since I had read a positive review in the Times about this new book, I was already intrigued.

I must say that the book had a strong impact on me. I’m probably much more naïve (a romantic, an idealist?) than I would ever admit (don’t tell anyone) and had ‘bought’ many of the myths about the wonders of baseball and its ‘heroes.’ I suppose I should have been forewarned from the subtitle.

Chafets quickly and thoroughly disabuses the reader of such foolishness...more
Zinnbeck
The book is full of facts and information, but there is little meat behind any of it. A lot of the information is shined up, glossed over or half truths to better fit the authors thesis that the HOF is nothing but scandalous. I wish the author would of taken more time to fill in the gaps regardless of where the stories led.

A few of the middle chapters like "the monks" and "the Haul of Fame" are worth reading. However I just got into the final chapter where he debates that steroid users should be...more
Joy
Nov 14, 2009 Joy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Polly, Cat
Requested this from the library 3 months ago as pre-Cooperstown trip reading. It just arrived. I'm reading quickly for some facts and stories before the end of the baseball season!


---UPDATE---

I didn't finish by the end of the baseball season (boo Yankees) but I did really enjoy it. It was especially fun to read after visiting the Hall in September, even though I now know that America's favorite past-time is full of scandal. Perhaps I have only sanitized memories of my 1980s baseball heroes (Geor...more
Spiros
Jul 04, 2013 Spiros rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of byzantine stories
Shelves: beisbol, gifteduponme
Pretty much a coda to Bill James' authoritative Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, this book provides a useful history of the Hall of Fame, and explores some of that institution's foibles and shortsightedness. While I'm not sure I agree with Chafets' conclusions with regards to PEDs, he does raise some valid points. Really, the Baseball Writers' Association of America's insistence on abiding by the "morality clause" has lead to some staggering inconsistencies in which players are worthy of a...more
Amy
I was quite comfortable with the sides the author takes in parts of the book because I share many of his opinions, and also liked his careful research and affection for the staff at the HOF. My complaint is that there was a bit too much of the author in the book, not his positions, but his reactions and feelings. It was as if he served as his own Greek chorus, which seemed superfluous. That said, having watched the Induction ceremonies over the years, he nailed Jane Forbes Clark perfectly!
Michael
I would classify this book as average. I cannot say that I enjoyed it immensily. It took me forever to put complete it. The author provides some fascinating insights into how the Baseball Hall of Fame operates. Don't get me wrong, I was under no illusion that the old time players were pure as the wind driven snow, so this book did not "dash" my childhood. Mr. Chafets provides some interesting insights into how the Hall of Fame was set up and conducted its business. I did enjoy his perspective on...more
Mark
Zev Chafets is a mensch. He has written a story that needed to be told. No sport is more full of bs than baseball and the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown turns out to be the shrine to bs. Chafets shows that all of the arguments used regarding the character of potential Hall of Famers such as Pete Rose are moot. The Hall has enshrined crooks, gamblers, drunks, racists and possibly a murderer since its inception. Chafets also argues persuasively that all of the hand-wringing that goes on regarding wha...more
Andrew Eberle
I did pick up some knowledge I didn't have before, particularly about the early history of the Hall itself, and there were definitely some interesting facts, but on the whole this one just didn't do it for me. Probably that has something to do with crazy statements like that Gary Carter should have gone in as a Met, or that Harvey Kuenn was the best hitting Shortstop of the 50s and thus should be in the Hall.

My single biggest problem with this book though is that the author is so obviously thri...more
Laura
Not something I ever would have picked up on my own, but really interesting book about Cooperstown and the inside story of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Luis Perez
Very interesting behind-the-scenes look at the history of America's most hallowed sports hall, the baseball hall of fame. The picture Chafets paints is not always flattering. The hall's history is full of scoundrels, insider moves and plain dirty deals. This book does maintain the HOF's place as a special part of Americana, but it also paints a broad picture, warts and all.

I wish I could give the book 3.5 stars instead of four, if only because I read an advance copy that had not been corrected...more
Marti
Though I bought this book for my husband to read on my nook, I ended up reading it myself, so that I could write a review for Barnes & Noble. I enjoyed it, and was glad that it wasn't over 900 pages like the book before it--only about 200. It was written by a Jewish baseball writer and contains all kinds of interesting information about the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the players themselves--sometimes things you might wish that you didn't know. It has been many years since we v...more
John
This is a pedestrian criticism of the baseball hall of fame. Yes, there are drunks, racists, and general jerks affiliated with the hall. But this guy can't find anything nice to say about the hall. For instance--he criticizes the hall for not admitting players from the Negro Leagues for many years. Then, he criticizes the hall for admitting too many people from the Negro Leagues.

It's easy to criticize anything. But the fact that something is imperfect does not mean that it has no value.

Julie Villar
The writing wasn't really my style but the information he conveyed was clear. There were a lot of funny anecdotes and he made his argument pretty well. This may sound silly but I'm not a baseball fan (and obviously not the target audience for this book) and the stats went completely over my head. A little more clarification on the stats would have been helpful.
Lance
This is a good overview of the history and evolution of the Hall of Fame. Chafets also gives a survey of a few of the current Hall of Fame controversies like Bonds, Clemens, Marvin Miller. Some interesting facts and quotes from some former players. Chafets is also journalist and it certainly shows in his writing. However, this made for a nice quick read.
Kay
Chafets is a bit of an apologist concerning steroids, an opinion with which I do not agree. However, to learn about how, when and why ball players are nominated and elected to the Hall of Fame gives one a better understanding of "The Show." Great history behind the development of Cooperstown, too, which, by the way, is a town you should visit!
Rachel
The Baseball Hall of Fame is to baseball what The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to music: an inconsistent, essentially meaningless institution designed to honor brilliant and talented artists who were were rarely decent human beings. Great stories about a frustrating, small minded and backwards place.
Socraticgadfly
As BBWAA voters debate the possible admittance of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame, this is a good book to read. Beyond Ty Cobb's racism and Babe Ruth's carousing, Chafets says that if we invoked the HOF's morals clause strictly, a number of current denizens would bet the boot.
Mpeavler
Doping is as old as sports. The only thing new is the attention it now gets. I do wish that it wasn't done and that every man/woman competing in sports would just perform at the best of their ability at the given time. I could then truly admire them all.
Sandy
do not read this if you like your heroes untarnished :) I loved it- unflinching stories of the early players and a not so flattering review of the Hall of Fame.
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