Memories from 47 Major Leaguers

A wide ranging collection of baseball voices from the Deadball Era to the 1970s, including those of nine Hall of Famers, take you onto the field, into the dugouts and clubhouses, and inside the minds of both players and managers. These engaging oral histories of previously unpublished experiences, events and anecdotes divulge surprising revelations—both highlights and lowlights—about their careers, as they revisit their personal mental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 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.

Interview Excerpts:

"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 them back off the plate when you get ahead, I defy somebody to get a hit. It's just not possible." —John Roseboro "Do I think we should have won some pennants during [Leo Durocher's] 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 "Honesty has gotten more managers fired than incompetence." —Pat Corrales