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They Played the Game

Memories from 47 Major Leaguers

Norman L. Macht

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 04/2019
Pages: 328
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496214171


Noted baseball historian Norman L. Macht brings together a wide‑ranging collection of baseball voices from the Deadball Era through the 1970s, including nine Hall of Famers, who take the reader onto the field, into the dugouts and clubhouses, and inside the minds of both players and managers. These engaging, wide-ranging oral histories bring surprising revelations—both highlights and lowlights—about their careers, as they revisit their personal mental scrapbooks of the days when they played the game. Not all of baseball's best stories are told by its biggest stars, especially when the stories are about those stars. Many of the storytellers you'll meet in They Played the Game are unknown to today's fans: the Red Sox's Charlie Wagner talks about what it was like to be Ted Williams's roommate in Williams's rookie year; the Dodgers' John Roseboro recounts his strategy when catching for Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax; former Yankee Mark Koenig recalls batting ahead of Babe Ruth in the lineup, and sometimes staying out too late with him; John Francis Daley talks about batting against Walter Johnson; Carmen Hill describes pitching against Babe Ruth in the 1927 World Series.


Norman L. Macht is the author of more than thirty books, including Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball (Nebraska, 2007); Connie Mack: The Turbulent and Triumphant Years, 1915–1931 (Nebraska, 2012); and The Grand Old Man of Baseball: Connie Mack in His Final Years, 1932–1956 (Nebraska, 2015); as well as numerous biographies for middle school readers including  Cy Young, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig. For more information about the author visit


"[An] excellent oral history for fans with a taste for the game's past."—Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

From the interviews:   "They talk about those Yankee teams with all those hitters and pitchers. But we were the biggest bunch of red asses; we got on each other. . . . Only Joe DiMaggio didn't have to say anything. He just had to look at you."—Gene Woodling   "Drysdale and Koufax, who are throwing 90-plus on the black part of the plate and using the fastball to move batters back off the plate when we get ahead in the count—I defy somebody to get a hit. It's just not possible."—Johnny Roseboro   "Do I think we should have won some pennants during Leo's [Durocher] years in Chicago? Absolutely. We had the best talent in baseball and we didn't win. I don't know why. If we had won in '69, we probably would have won the next two or three years. But there was a stigma attached to not winning that year."—Don Kessinger   "Casey Stengel would never give you a direct answer to a question. If an interviewer asked him one question, he'd get four answers. And if you had four questions to ask, you'd never get past the first one."—George "Highpockets" Kelly   "Most of the guys who succeed in sports and businesses and life's accomplishments get a little dig in the ass going and God damn it pushing all the time. They want to be the best, they want to do things, they want to be remembered,  they want to be on top of the heap. No question about it. And Lefty Grove was one of them son of a bitches."—Ted Williams   "Honesty has gotten more managers fired than incompetence."—Pat Corrales