Hardball: The Education of a Baseball Commissioner

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9780070355989: Hardball: The Education of a Baseball Commissioner

When Bowie Kuhn became baseball commissioner in 1969, attendance at games was declining, labor disputes were flaring, and many teams were suffering from poor management and marketing. Fifteen years later, when Kuhn retired, the sport was flourishing. Kuhn had overseen tumultuous changes issuing from a challenge to the reserve clause, the 1981 strike, escalated salaries, free agency, and his controversial rulings on matters ranging from gambling to broadcasting.   In Hardball Kuhn reveals how the decisions were made and forthrightly challenges his detractors. The commissioner offers many colorful anecdotes and strong opinions about baseball’s greatest legends from Jackie Robinson to Howard Cosell.

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Review:

Baseball's longstanding imperial Pooh-Bah, Bowie Kuhn, presided over the game from 1969 to 1984 with the kind of autocratic imperiousness that endeared him to no one. If the image he projected was that of an unbending stiff, his memoir, surprisingly, is anything but. While not exactly filled with personality--nothing about Kuhn is flamboyant--it does name names and it does tell stories. If Kuhn's agenda is basically a self-defense, he's got good grounds. When he arrived on the scene, the game was in trouble; when he left, it was on a high. Yet the passage was a tortuous one. Charles O. Finley, Ted Turner, George Steinbrenner, Marvin Miller, the reserve clause, the 1981 strike, and the sanctimonious banishment of Mantle and Mays were all significant confrontations on Kuhn's watch. Kuhn didn't always handle things smoothly, and he knows that; Hardball is a solid hit because of his willingness to analyze his failures as well as his successes and his eagerness to point fingers where he thinks he should. Originally published in 1987, this reissue steps up with a new afterword that has Kuhn commenting on the state of the game 10 years later. It all makes you cry for the unfulfilled promise of Bart Giamatti. --Jeff Silverman

About the Author:

In a new afterword to this Bison Books edition, Bowie Kuhn (1969-2007), gives his take on the state of baseball since his retirement as commissioner in 1984.

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