February 5 2016

“The Golden Era of Major League Baseball” with Bryan Soderholm-Difatte

A former CIA analyst walked through the Clubhouse door...

In The Golden Era of Major League Baseball: A Time of Transition and Integration, Bryan Soderholm-Difatte explores the significant events and momentous changes that took place in baseball from 1947 to 1960.

Beginning with Jackie Robinson’s rookie season in 1947, Soderholm-Difatte provides a careful and thorough examination of baseball’s integration, including the struggles of black players who were not able to break into the starting lineups.  In addition, the author looks at the dying practice of player-managers, the increasing use of relief pitchers and platooning, the iconic 1951 pennant race between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and more.  Soderholm-Difatte also tells the stories of three central characters to this era, whose innovations, strategies, and vision changed the game -- Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and Leo Durocher.

Bryan Soderholm-Difatte is a former senior analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center.  He is a regular contributor to The Baseball Research Journal.

Listen in to a fascinating “deep dive” discussion on a February evening in the Clubhouse with Bryan Soderholm-Difatte...


January 25 2016

“Fun City: John Lindsay, Joe Namath, and How Sports Saved New York in the 1960s” with Sean Deveney

“Coming events cast their shadows before.”  -Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet

On January 1, 1966, New York came to a standstill as the city’s transit workers went on strike.  This was the first day on the job for Mayor John Lindsay.  He would approach the transit shutdown with the sort of dynamic problem solving that would be his hallmark.  He ignored the cold and walked four miles, famously declaring, “I still think it is a fun city.”

As Lindsay juggled his city’s repeated crises, the sporting scene saw tremendous upheaval.  On one hand, the venerable Yankees -- who had won 15 pennants in an 18-year span before 1965 -- and the NFL’s powerhouse Giants suddenly went into a level of decline neither had known for generations.  But on the other, the fall of the city’s sports behemoths was accompanied by the rise of anti-establishment outsiders -- there were Joe Namath and the Jets, as well as the shocking triumph of the Amazin’ Mets, who won the 1969 World Series after spending the franchise’s first seven seasons losing 737 ballgames.

The overlap of these two worlds in the 1960s -- Lindsay’s politics and the reemerging sports landscape -- serves as the backbone of “Fun City.”  It is a story of a thrilling time in New York sports, set against the backdrop of a remarkable and often difficult time for the city, culturally and socially.

Listen in to our fascinating discussion with Sean Deveney on a “Fun City” winter evening in the Clubhouse...

(This podcast is dedicated to the memory of David Garth, a truly great New Yorker.)


December 17 2015

“Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter” with Danny Peary

“Passion is the genesis of genius.”  -Galileo

Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter takes you on a remarkable forty-year journey, letting you step inside the great Yankee shortstop’s life and career through his own words and those of the people who have known him best personally and in the sports community.  The result is an incredible, insightful look at what made him not only an amazing ballplayer, but also an intriguing and complex personality.

The book is packed with quotes by Jeter’s parents, friends, teachers and mentors, coaches, scouts, teammates, opposing players, his fans and critics, celebrities, elite athletes like Michael Jordan, writers and broadcasters, managers, George Steinbrenner and even two presidents. The big surprise comes from the revealing quotes from Derek Jeter himself, who, during his career, constantly frustrated journalists by keeping his thoughts to himself.

Danny Peary is a sports and film historian who has published 24 books.  He collaborated on the biographies of Roger Maris and Gil Hodges, the autobiographies of Ralph Kiner and Shannon Miller, and three books with Tim McCarver.  Peary is the writer-researcher of The Tim McCarver Show.

Listen in to our conversation with Danny Peary on a warm December evening in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse...


November 16 2015

“A Century in the Bleachers” with Arnold Hano and filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis

Meet Arnold Hano. He might be the Babe Ruth of writers.

Arnold has been published in nine decades, wrote twenty-seven books, sold over a million of them, and penned 500 magazine and newspaper articles.

Hano! A Century in the Bleachers is the story of the extraordinary life and times of 93-year-old Arnold Hano, one of the most prolific writers of the past century.

Baseball fan, war veteran, activist and storyteller emeritus: few have lived and chronicled the American experience as extensively. His story has flown under the radar of popular culture for almost a hundred years... until now.

On a Friday evening in November, we welcomed the legendary Arnold Hano and filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse for a special event.  Listen in...


November 10 2015

“Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and the Cuban League” with Cesar Brioso

In February 1947, the most memorable season in the history of the Cuban League finished with a dramatic series win by Almendares against its rival Habana.  As the celebration spread through the streets of Havana and across Cuba, the Brooklyn Dodgers -- and a minor leaguer named Jackie Robinson -- were beginning spring training on the island.

Robinson was two months away from making his major league debut in Brooklyn.  To avoid racism and harassment from the crowds in Florida during this critical time, the Dodgers relocated their spring training to Cuba.

It was also during this time that Major League Baseball was trying to bring the “outlaw” Cuban League under the control of organized baseball.  As the Cubans fought to stay independent, Robinson worked to earn a roster spot on the Dodgers.

In Havana Hardball, veteran journalist Cesar Brioso brings together a rich mix of worlds as the heyday of Latino baseball converged with one of the most socially meaningful events in American history.  Listen in to our discussion on a Fall evening in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse...


November 3 2015

“The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball” with Charles Fountain

We are continually pulled to the story of the 1919 World Series and the Chicago White Sox -- The Black Sox -- because so much of modern sport, and our attitude towards it, springs from the scandal.

In The Betrayal, Charles Fountain traces the Black Sox story from its roots in the gambling culture that pervaded the game in the years surrounding World War I, through the confusing events of the 1919 World Series itself, to the noisy aftermath and trial, and illuminates the moment as baseball's tipping point.

Situating the Black Sox events in the context of later scandals, including those involving Cincinnati Reds manager and player Pete Rose, and the ongoing use of performance-enhancing drugs in the game up through the present, Fountain illuminates America’s near century-long fascination with the story, and its continuing relevance today.

Charles Fountain is an Associate Professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.  His journalism career encompassed work in television, radio, newspapers and magazines.  Fountain is the author of several books, including Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training and Sportswriter: The Life and Times of Grantland Rice.

On an off day for this year’s World Series, we took a look back at the most talked about Fall Classic in baseball history.  Listen in...


October 22 2015

“Game of My Life: NY Mets” with Ed Charles and author Michael Garry

An October evening in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse with a World Series Champion.

Michael Garry, author of Game of My Life: New York Mets, took us through the most unforgettable games in Mets history, as the franchise morphed from a dismal expansion team in 1962 to World Series Champions in 1969 and 1986 and then back to basement dwellers before meeting the Yankees in the 2000 Subway Series and evolving into the current, highly promising squad.

Then, special guest Ed Charles -- "The Glider" -- of the 1969 Miracle Mets, told stories and answered questions.  It was a night filled with emotion.  A special night.  Listen in...


October 10 2015

“Pinstripes and Penance / Long Road Home” with John Malangone and Mike Harrison

“I want you to stay away from my brothers.  You are prone to trouble.  You are always in trouble.”  -Mickey Mantle

After a private screening of the award-winning documentary Long Road Home, John Malangone spoke in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse.

In 1937, at the age of six, John found a broken umbrella in the basement of his East Harlem tenement.  He stripped it and turned it into a javelin.  John threw it, accidentally hitting a child in the head, piercing his skull.  The child was only a year older.  He was also John’s uncle.

As a teenager, Malangone couldn’t play for his high school team because he was “classified” as intellectually slow.  Paul Krichell, the scout who first identified Lou Gehrig and Whitey Ford as prospects, spotted John in a sandlot game.  Soon, Malangone was a 17-year-old catcher in the Yankees organization.

John’s life story -- as featured in Pinstripes and Penance by author Michael Harrison -- offers an unvarnished look into that organization and a man’s struggle with memories of a life-changing childhood tragedy.

On an October evening in the Clubhouse, we heard stories about the rich and often tumultuous culture of East Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s... betting on ballgames, the Hoodlum Priest, the Mob, hijacking tractor trailers in Winston-Salem and dropping them off at the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike, and many more.  John also reminisced about Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and Earl Weaver.

Pull up a chair, relax, and listen in on the life of the best New York Yankee prospect you never heard of: John Malangone at the age of 84...


September 26 2015

“At The Ballpark” — A Phenomenal Panel

A phenomenal panel on a Friday evening in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse...

“At The Ballpark” with Lee Lowenfish, Roberta Newman, Charlie Vascellaro & Russell Wolinsky.

They talked Baseball.  We listened and learned.

“At the Ballpark: A Fan’s Companion” is the perfect how-to guide -- especially for young fans -- illustrating the experience of watching, understanding and enjoying baseball.  In the words of the Chicago Tribune:  “Take kids out to the ballgame -- and bring this book.”

The phenomenal panel...

Lee Lowenfish, baseball author and CBN (Certified Baseball Nut), still remembers the thrill of seeing the green grass at the Polo Grounds at his first game in 1948.

Roberta Newman, a cultural historian who teaches at NYU, writes about the connections between baseball and advertising.

Charlie Vascellaro is a vagabond freelance baseball/travel writer who spends inordinate amounts of time in Cooperstown and spring training in Arizona, from where he issues frequent dispatches for newspapers and magazines around the country and speaks to various groups of people interested in baseball.

Russell Wolinsky is a punk rocker/baseball historian who was raised on the mean streets of the 1960s-1970s Bronx.

Listen.  Enjoy...


June 22 2015

“The Dad Report: Fathers, Sons, and Baseball Families” with Kevin Cook

A tapestry of uplifting stories in which fathers and sons share the game...

Almost two hundred father-son pairs have played in the big leagues.  Kevin Cook takes us inside the clubhouses, homes, and lives of many of the greats.

In visiting these legendary families, Cook discovers that ball-playing families are a lot like our own.  Dan Haren regrets the long road trips that keep him from his kids.  Ike Davis and his father, a former Yankee, debate whether Ike should pitch or play first base.  Buddy Bell leads a generation of big-leaguers determined to open their workplace -- the clubhouse -- to their kids.

Framing The Dad Report is the story of Kevin Cook's own father, Art Cook, a minor-league pitcher, a loveable rogue with a wicked screwball.  In Art's later years, Kevin phoned him almost every night to talk baseball.  They called those nightly conversations “the Dad Report.”  In time, Kevin came to see that these conversations were about much more than the game.  That's what this book is about: the way fathers and sons talk baseball as a way of talking about everything -- courage, fear, fun, family, morality, and mortality.

An award-winning sportswriter and former senior editor at Sports Illustrated, Kevin Cook is the author of Titanic Thompson, Tommy's Honor, and Kitty Genovese.

Listen in to Kevin Cook's special Father’s Day week conversation in the Clubhouse...


June 6 2015

“Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio” with James Walker

“I watch a lot of baseball on the radio.”  -President Gerald R. Ford

Radio has brought the sounds of baseball into homes for almost one hundred years.  The first All-Star Game, Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World.”  Red Barber, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell, Bob Uecker, and dozens of other beloved announcers helped cement the love affair between radio and the national pastime.
Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio takes readers from the 1920s to the present.  Despite cable television’s ubiquity, live video streaming, and social media, radio remains an important medium through which fans engage with their teams. Even in changing times, the familiar sounds of the ball hitting the glove and the satisfying crack of the bat stay the same.

Pull up a chair and listen in to our Clubhouse conversation with James Walker.  An evening well spent...


May 30 2015

“The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership That Transformed The New York Yankees” with Steve Steinberg

“Ruppert and Huggins were the principal figures in the transition of the Yankees from an afterthought on the New York baseball scene to the nation’s greatest sports dynasty of the twentieth century.”  -Marty Appel

From the team’s inception in 1903, the New York Yankees were a floundering group that played as second-class citizens to the New York Giants. With four winning seasons to date, the team was purchased in 1915 by Jacob Ruppert and his partner, Cap “Til” Huston. Three years later, when Ruppert hired Miller Huggins as manager, the unlikely partnership of the two figures began, one that set into motion the Yankees’ run as the dominant baseball franchise of the 1920s and the rest of the twentieth century, capturing six American League pennants with Huggins at the helm and four more during Ruppert’s lifetime.
The Yankees’ success was driven by Ruppert’s executive style and enduring financial commitment, combined with Huggins’s philosophy of continual improvement and personnel development. While Ruppert and Huggins had more than a little help from one of baseball’s greats, Babe Ruth, their close relationship has been overlooked in the Yankees’ rise to dominance. Though both were small of stature, the two men nonetheless became giants of the game with unassailable mutual trust and loyalty.
The Colonel and Hug tells the story of how these two men transformed the Yankees. It also tells the larger story about baseball primarily in the tumultuous period from 1918 to 1929 -- with the end of the Deadball Era and the rise of the Lively Ball Era, a gambling scandal, and the collapse of baseball’s governing structure -- and the significant role the Yankees played in it all.

On a Thursday evening in May, Steve Steinberg took us back in time.  Listen in to our Clubhouse conversation...

Steve Steinberg is a baseball historian and coauthor (with Lyle Spatz) of “1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York.”


May 26 2015

“Split Season 1981″ with Jeff Katz, the Mayor of Cooperstown

The Mayor of Cooperstown, an author, and a former options trader walked into a Clubhouse...

The never-before-told, behind-the-scenes story of the exciting and memorable 1981 baseball season.  The year of Fernando Valenzuela, Pete Rose, the last Yankees-Dodgers World Series -- and the mid-season players’ strike that cut the heart out of the American summer.

Sourcing extensive interviews with almost all of the major participants in the strike, Split Season 1981: Fernandomania, The Bronx Zoo, and The Strike That Saved Baseball returns us to the on- and off-field drama of an unforgettable baseball year.

On a spring evening, Jeff Katz -- the Mayor of Cooperstown, author, former options trader -- walked into the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse.  We had a star-studded, standing-room-only crowd.  Listen in to our Clubhouse conversation...


May 16 2015

“Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” with Bill Pennington

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Billy Martin said.  He was in second grade.

Billy Martin is a story of contrasts. He was the “other” second baseman in New York in the 1950s, playing nearly every fall opposite Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson. He spent sixteen seasons managing in the big leagues and is considered by anyone who knows the sport to have been a true baseball genius, a field manager without peer. Yet he’s remembered more for his habit of kicking dirt at umpires, for being hired and fired by George Steinbrenner five separate times, for his rabble-rousing and public brawls on the field and off. He was combative, fiery, intimidating, bombastic, and yet endearing and beloved by the everyday fan. He was hard on his players and even harder on himself.  But he knew how to turn around a losing team like no one else. And how to entertain us every step of the way.

Drawing on exhaustive interviews with friends, family, teammates, players, and countless adversaries -- and his own time covering Martin as a young sportswriter -- Bill Pennington paints an indelible portrait of a man who never backed down for the game he loved. From his upbringing in a broken home surrounded by a shantytown to his days on the Yankees in the 1950s, where he found success as a scrappy clutch player, through sixteen years of managing, including his legendary, often fraught tenure at the helm of the Yankees, Billy Martin made sure no one ever ignored him. And indeed no one could. He was the hero, the antihero, and the alter ego -- or some combination of all three -- for his short sixty-one years among us.

Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius by Bill Pennington

Bill Pennington is an award-winning sportswriter for “The New York Times.”  A former syndicated columnist, Pennington was a beat writer who covered much of Billy Martin's tenure with the New York Yankees. 

Listen in to a special spring evening of inside baseball stories with Bill Pennington in the Clubhouse...


May 11 2015

“If These Walls Could Talk: New York Yankees” with Jim Kaat

Pitching through four decades in the Major Leagues, Jim Kaat won 283 games with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.  After his playing days, Jim went on to win seven Emmy Awards for his work as a broadcaster for the New York Yankees.  Since joining MLB Network, Jim has been nominated for three national Emmys.

As a ballplayer and broadcaster, Jim had a prime seat to watch it all unfold.  In If These Walls Could Talk, he provides a closer look at the Yankees.  Via multiple interviews conducted with current and past Yankees, readers will meet the players, coaches and management, and share in their moments of victory and defeat.

During our special event with Jim Kaat, he discussed his childhood baseball memories, favorite piece of memorabilia, matching up in the World Series against Sandy Koufax, the best ballplayers of his era, the ballplayers of today, Sabermetrics, Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner, Pete Rose, Stephen Strasburg, pitch counts, and his broadcasting career. 

Listen in to our fascinating evening with Jim Kaat, when the Clubhouse walls talked...


April 30 2015

“A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball” with Jennifer Ring

There is a national women’s baseball team in the United States.  It is virtually unknown.

One of the best kept secrets in American sports: Team USA has medaled in every international competition it has played in for the past decade.
A Game of Their Own chronicles the largely invisible history of women in baseball.  Jennifer Ring includes oral histories of eleven members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, from the moment each player picked up a bat and ball as a young girl to her selection for Team USA.  Each story is unique, but they share common themes that will resonate with all baseball fans: facing skepticism and taunts from players and parents when taking the batter’s box or the pitcher’s mound, self-doubt, the unceasing pressure to switch to softball, and eventual acceptance by their baseball teammates as they prove themselves as ballplayers.  The stories of these racially, culturally, and economically diverse players come alive as they recount their battles and most memorable moments playing baseball -- the joys of exceeding expectations and the pleasure of honing baseball skills and talent despite the lack of support.
Featuring exclusive interviews with players, coaches, and administrators, A Game of Their Own celebrates the U.S. Women’s National Team and the excellence of its remarkable players.  In response to the jeer “No girls allowed!” these are powerful stories of optimism and staying true to oneself.

Listen in to our wonderful evening with Jennifer Ring in the Clubhouse...


April 20 2015

“Freedom Between The Lines” with Gregory Rubano

A story that needs to be told...

Devised in the late nineteenth century, the United States government’s “solution” to “the Indian Problem” was simple and heartless.  Take the children from their homes, strip them of their cultural identity and pride, and make them “Americans.”  Teaching them baseball -- “America's Game” -- would complete the indoctrination.  Or so they thought.

Freedom Between The Lines recreates the story of Native American youth sent to a federally run boarding school -- the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.  What awaits the children is a carefully plotted re-education program intended to “civilize” them by “driving the Indian out of them.”  The psychological assault begins as soon as they arrive: hair is cut, uniforms issued, clothes and keepsakes destroyed.  In baseball, however, the boys find a way to reclaim their proud warrior tradition, a way to compete fairly against an unjust society.  The book focuses upon one of the boys, Charles Albert Bender.  He was so good at “America' Game,” Bender became the only Native American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The book includes a supplement with many photos that traces both the tragic history of the government’s attempts to solve “the Indian problem,” and the early history of baseball’s amazing appeal to all of America.

A recently retired English teacher, Gregory Rubano is currently the director and curriculum consultant for an arts integrated anti-bullying and intolerance program, All for Youth.

Listen in to our Clubhouse conversation with Greg Rubano and Freedom Between The Lines...


April 10 2015

“100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball” with Marty Appel and Doug Lyons

In celebration of the 100th issue of Who’s Who in Baseball -- one of the game’s most venerable publications -- this beautiful book features each of the annual's 100 iconic covers in full color along with an account of why the player rated the cover and what was going on in baseball at the time.

Marty Appel is the author of many books, including Pinstripe Empire and the New York Times bestseller Munson. Following his years as the Yankees’ public relations director, he became an Emmy Award-winning television producer and director of Marty Appel Public Relations. Appel lives in New York City and appears frequently on ESPN, HBO, the MLB Network, and the YES Network.

Douglas B. Lyons is a leading authority on all things baseball. He is the author of Out of Left Field, Curveballs and Screwballs, and Short Hops and Foul Tips, all of which he co-wrote with his brother Jeffrey. He also wrote Broadcast Rites and Sites: I Saw It on the Radio with Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione.

On a spring evening in the Clubhouse, we had a wide-ranging, fascinating discussion with two of the country's leading baseball experts.  Listen in...


March 28 2015

“Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers” with 16-year-old author Matt Nadel

We’ve hosted Hall of Famers and Pulitzer Prize winners.  But never a 16-year-old author.  Until now.

Matt Nadel’s first book -- Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers -- is an A-to-Z compendium of the best players, ballparks, teams, and moments in the history of the game.  Filled with stats and quick facts, and featuring over 50 iconic photographs, the book is a primer for baseball beginners, a resource for developing fans, and a treat for long-time devotees.  Special bonus: a foreword by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

All of Matt’s book proceeds will be donated to the ALS, Turn 2, Jackie Robinson, and Hall of Fame foundations.

Matt Nadel has written an MLB.com Pro Blog since he was 13-years-old.  He’s interviewed Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Bud Selig, Rob Manfred, Billy Crystal, President George W. Bush and many others.  Matt would like to interview every living President and Hall of Famer.  A 10th grader who resides in New Jersey, he aspires to be a baseball journalist and historian.  When not doing baseball research or working on his blog, Matt enjoys watching his beloved Yankees, playing video games, and eating chocolate ice cream with rice krispies.

On a March evening, Matt Nadel came to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse for his first-ever book event.  In front of a standing-room-only crowd, Matt showed why he's a "can't-miss" prospect.  Listen in...


March 16 2015

“Joe Black: More Than A Dodger” with Martha Jo Black

“I pray that my Dad knew how much I loved and respected him. I am very blessed to be able to say that Joe Black was my father.”
  -Martha Jo Black

When Joe Black was in high school, a Major League scout told him that the color of his skin would keep him out of the big leagues.  But in 1952, at the age of 28, he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  In the face of segregation, verbal harassment, and even death threats, Joe Black became Jackie Robinson’s roommate and rose to the top of his game; he was named National League Rookie of the Year and became the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game.  With the same tenacity he showed in his baseball career, Black became the first African-American vice president of a transportation corporation when he went to work for Greyhound.

Martha Jo Black is the daughter of Joe Black.  She lives in Chicago, where she works for the Chicago White Sox.

Joe Black: More Than A Dodger.  Listen in to our intimate Clubhouse conversation with Martha Jo Black from a March evening, where she shared stories of the father she knew and loved...

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