The Least Among Them: 29 Players, Their Brief Moments in the Big Leagues, and a Unique History of the New York Yankees
“There have been thousands of books written about the sport of baseball since its beginnings well over a century ago, and probably a few hundred of them have been written about the most popular and internationally renowned and winningest (a wonderful baseball term) of Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees. The iconic N superimposed over the Y logo is the most prevalent baseball cap in the world. All levels of fans of the game have heard of the greats of the Yankees through their illustrious history: Babe Ruth, Micky Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Lou Gehrig, Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mariano Rivera . . . I could keep going with this list all day. But what about the not-so-great Yankees? Baseball is a ruthless sport where only the very best get to have a chance to excel, and even fewer get to keep playing the sport at the highest level season after season. What about the players who got just a brief moment in the spotlight?
The Least Among Them by Paul Russell Semendinger tells their story, covering twenty-nine players in their unique Yankees history when they were given one chance to shine, which they did and then disappeared into obscurity. The book kicks off with the story of Elvio Jimenez who as a rookie in 1964 was given a chance and made some big catches and after six at-bats recorded two singles in his one big game for the Yankees. I have summed up in one sentence what happens in the chapter, but there is of course so much more. Semendinger does a truly fantastic job of setting the scene, giving a brief bio on Jimenez and how he joined the Yankees in the minors and came up to get his one chance and one game, made a small but significant imprint on the game, and then eventually became a scout. Yet he is still tied for most at-bats in a single game.
This is just one of the twenty-nine players covered in the book; between the players’ chapters are informative interludes on the art of baseball ranging from Tommy John and his medical condition that led to the breakthrough surgery that almost every pitcher in the game goes through at some point during their career; to the tallest Yankee of all time; to the end of Joe DiMaggio’s historic streak; to Dave Righetti’s move to the bullpen (which as a San Francisco Giants fan I found fascinating). The book is also filled with pictures of baseball cards, historic photos, score sheets, and more. The Least Among Them is a special book that shines a light on a number of Yankees who have probably not been talked about since their brief moments of fame and is a true gem of a piece of baseball history.
Also available in e-book format.”
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