Taking on the Yankees examines the rise of the Yankee franchise in the early 20th Century, and how the club has maintained its dominance of major league baseball through the decades. This book would be classified as a story on “the business of baseball”, and it focuses much more on the activities and strategies of owners and management than the game on the field.
Taking on the Yankees is not just about the Bronx Bombers, although the author is obviously a die-hard New Yorker. Rather, the book also examines how key National League franchises have approached competing with the Yankees. The book focuses on the Giants of the 1900-1920’s, the Cardinals of the 1920-1940s, and the Dodgers of the 1940-1960s, and the management strategies those teams employed (or failed to employ) to rise atop the baseball world. The Yankees’ activities run throughout the book in chronological order, aside their key NL antagonists.
Although the key players are mentioned, the owners and general managers are the “stars” of this book. John McGraw and the Stoneham family for the Giants, Branch Rickey and Sam Breadon for the Cardinals, Rickey again and the O’Malley family for the Dodgers, are all featured on the National League side. For the Yankees, Colonel Ruppert and George Steinbrenner figure prominently.
SABR members with an interest in baseball history and baseball business should enjoy this book. At the time it was published, it was overshadowed by Moneyball, which came out the same year. If you enjoyed Moneyball, you should enjoy Taking on the Yankees as a historical baseball business primer to Billy Beane and his Athletics.
Here’s the key statistics:
Book: Taking on the Yankees, Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball
Author: Henry D. Fetter
Author Credentials: Fetter is a lawyer who has written legal and baseball articles
Published: 2003, W. W. Norton
Length: 460 pages
Price: Retail list – $25.95; Online: new from $12.00 + ship; used from $3.00 + ship.