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"Cy Young: A Baseball Life" won the Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of the Year, was a finalist for the Seymour Medal of the Society for American Baseball Research and a "Choice" Outstanding Academic Book.
Reed Browning is professor of history and former provost at Kenyon College.
Cy Young, baseball's greatest pitcher, owns one record that will never be broken: 511 career victories. Unfortunately, Young didn't also possess the larger-than-life personality of a Babe Ruth or a Ty Cobb (whose signature records have both been surpassed). Consequently, his life has largely been forgotten. History professor Browning hopes to revive Young with this chronicle of a career that straddled the centuries and saw the birth of the modern game. The problem is that his subject won't cooperate. What few pieces of correspondence the semiliterate pitcher left behind "are almost silent about his thoughts." In addition, "Young was a quiet man" with an "aversion to interviews" and a reluctance to talk about himself. That's why, from a baseball writer's point of view, "[he] was not good copy"; from a reader's point of view, the same holds true. Young's private life must remain undecipherableÄthe simple life of a humble man. As for his career, Browning tries his spirited best to bring countless games to life, but with little incisive commentary from Young himself, Browning's efforts are frustrated, and the book eventually grows wearisome. Nonetheless, the author has also packed in many colorful anecdotes: for example, on the evolution of the pitcher's mound, the origins of the American League (especially the Red Sox), the history of baseball in Cleveland and the first World Series. Ultimately, even if the book doesn't post a W, it isn't a bad game to watch. 24 illustrations. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Each year the top pitchers in both leagues are honored with the Cy Young Award, but how many of today's fans really know much about the winningest hurler of them all? Browning digs deep to uncover the real story behind this pitching legend, whose innovations were essential to baseball's growth in the 19th and early 20th century." "This will be the standard biography of Denton True Young for a long time to come." "A carefully researched book written in a straight-forward reporter's style that should satisfy baseball buffs." "Cy Young beat out nine other nominated books to win the coveted bronze Casey plaque.... This is an important biography which gets an A-plus for its originality and coverage of Cy Young's entire life.... It is difficult to imagine a more definitive biography of Young ever being done." "A wonderfully nuanced and researched biography." "An unusually readable book.... This biography is exemplary." "Browning has filled a void in baseball's biographies of its greats in authoring a 'no stone unturned' book about Young.... A superb Young reader, documentary, [and] biography."