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About Jon Pessah
Jon Pessah is a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for editing and writing an examination into the role of racism in Major League Baseball. A 45-year veteran of sports and business journalism in newspapers and magazines, Pessah was Assistant Managing Editor/Sports at Newsday and Sports Editor at the Hartford Courant. Pessah was Deputy Editor at ESPN Magazine, where he directed an award-winning investigation into the rise of steroids in baseball.
Pessah’s first book—The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball's Power Brokers (Little, Brown & Company, 2015)—is a New York Times bestselling portrait of the powerbrokers who built major league baseball into a multi-billion-dollar business. Pessah’s next book, a biography of American icon Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, is due out by Little, Brown & Company on April 14, 2020. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Daily Beast, Newsweek and Men’s Journal.
Praise for YOGI: Life Behind the Mask
• “Here’s a contender for baseball book of the year. Pessah’s Yogi is as warm, winning and entertaining as its subject—certain to be the definitive biography of an American legend.”
—Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Ali: A Life.
• “Jon Pessah’s meticulously sourced Yogi immediately becomes essential for anyone interested in the life of a true American icon. The book is a serious and thoughtful treatment of a life that was a good deal more complex than most people realize. Throughout, it’s Yogi’s warmth, love of his family and loyalty to them and his friends that drive this narrative. Yogi Berra was a beautiful person with a big heart, and this biography more than does him justice.
Simply put—a great read for any baseball fan.”
—Joe Garagiola Jr., Special Advisor to the President/CEO Arizona Diamondbacks
• “Jon Pessah is not just an author who recounts history. He is a talented storyteller, as his critically acclaimed The Game illustrated. Now he has used his passion and prose to give us Yogi, a rich and poignant portrait of one of America’s most beloved sports icons.”
—Claire Smith, JG Spink Award winner (2017) and ESPN Coordinating Editor/Baseball
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Lawrence "Yogi" Berra was never supposed to become a major league ballplayer.
That's what his immigrant father told him. That's what Branch Rickey told him, too—right to Berra's face, in fact. Even the lowly St. Louis Browns of his youth said he'd never make it in the big leagues.
Yet baseball was his lifeblood. It was the only thing he ever cared about. Heck, it was the only thing he ever thought about. Berra couldn't allow a constant stream of ridicule about his appearance, taunts about his speech, and scorn about his perceived lack of intelligence to keep him from becoming one of the best to ever play the game—at a position requiring the very skills he was told he did not have.
Drawing on more than one hundred interviews and four years of reporting, Jon Pessah delivers a transformational portrait of how Berra handled his hard-earned success—on and off the playing field—as well as his failures; how the man who insisted "I really didn't say everything I said!" nonetheless shaped decades of America's culture; and how Berra's humility and grace redefined what it truly means to be a star.
Overshadowed on the field by Joe DiMaggio early in his career and later by a youthful Mickey Mantle, Berra emerges as not only the best loved Yankee but one of the most appealingly simple, innately complex, and universally admired men in all of America.
In the fall of 1992, America's National Pastime is in crisis and already on the path to the unthinkable: cancelling a World Series for the first time in history. The owners are at war with each other, their decades-long battle with the players has turned America against both sides, and the players' growing addiction to steroids will threaten the game's very foundation.
It is a tipping point for baseball, a crucial moment in the game's history that catalyzes a struggle for power by three strong-willed men: Commissioner Bud Selig, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and union leader Don Fehr. It's their uneasy alliance at the end of decades of struggle that pulls the game back from the brink and turns it into a money-making powerhouse that enriches them all.
This is the real story of baseball, played out against a tableau of stunning athletic feats, high-stakes public battles, and backroom political deals -- with a supporting cast that includes Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, Joe Torre and Derek Jeter, George Bush and George Mitchell, and many more.
Drawing from hundreds of extensive, exclusive interviews throughout baseball, The Game is a stunning achievement: a rigorously reported book and the must-read, fly-on-the-wall, definitive account of how an enormous struggle for power turns disaster into baseball's Golden Age.