This is the story of a forgotten Giant–the man Baseball Magazine called in 1930 “baseball’s greatest first baseman”–Bill Terry. Brought up from proverty and the obscurity of semipro ball in the South by the famed “Little Napoleon,” manager John McGraw of the Giants, Terry developed into the team’s key player in the 1920s. As America battled the Depression, the no-nonsense Terry replaced McGraw as manager of the Giants and led the team to three pennants and a world championship. In When the Giants Were Giants, author Peter Williams looks at the end of an era–a time before television, night baseball, player strikes, or free agents–through the lense of this Hall-of-Famer’s career as a player and coach. Exclusive interviews with Bill Terry and other players bring to life the rich and color tapestry of Golden Age baseball when the big New York baseball teams were the biggest names in sports.
"Just when was the "golden age of New York baseball"? In The Era , Roger Kahn argues for 1947-57, no doubt the majority view, but Williams makes a strong case for the 1930s, when the Yankees, with Ruth and Gehrig, dominated the American League, and the Giants, led by Bill Terry, had their way in the National. Whether or not Williams wins the golden age argument, he does a tremendous job of resuscitating the reputation of the unfairly maligned Terry, whose .341 lifetime batting average as a player and multiple pennants as a manager weren't enough to overcome the ire of a group of angry writers (including Williams' father) who kept the Giant star out of the Hall of Fame for 11 years after his retirement. In Williams' full-bodied, anecdotal portrait, Terry emerges as the prototypical modern player--savvy about money, unwilling to accept the patriarchal approach of team owners to their employees, utterly frank in his dealings with reporters. "Terry," Williams says, "was the first important baseball figure to rebel against a star system created by and for reporters, and they responded by trying to make an example of him." This is excellent baseball history: judicious use of game accounts mixed with appropriate dollops of period ambience and authorial interpretation." --Booklist
Meet the Author
Peter Williams was born in New York City and graduated from Yale University. He holds an M.A. from Columbia and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Since 1972 he has taught English at the County College of Morris in New Jersey. His articles on baseball have appeared in Baseball Research Journal and Elysian Fields Quarterly, and in anthologies including Cooperstown and The Perfect Game. He is the editor of The Joe Williams Baseball Reader. He now resides in Caldwell, New Jersey.