Book Review: Glory Days: The Akron Yankees of the Middle Atlantic League 1935-1941

Picture of League Park in Akron, OH taken from Google Images

Many in Northeast Ohio would be surprised to learn that the disliked New York Yankees used to have a farm team bearing their same name right in their backyard. While fans in this area of the country do not have the contempt for the Big League Yankees as, say, those in Boston, there is still a great amount of animosity towards the big boys in the Big Apple.
Glory Days: The Akron Yankees of the Middle Atlantic League 1935-1941 by Richard McBane attempts to tell the story of the Yankees coming to Akron as well as describing their time here. McBane chose to do his book in a year by year examination of what happened during the each season the Yankees were in town. Unfortunately most of these chapters are less about what happens on the field and more about all of the trials and tribulations the team went through in order to stay in the Rubber Capital of the world.
Each chapter seems to be missing important antidotes about the seasons and as soon as one player or manager is introduced, they are seemingly out of the book as fast as they were in it. McBane doesn’t give the reader enough time to take hold of any of the players mentioned even though many of them went on to have substantial Major League careers.
One could argue that it is hard to take seven seasons of baseball and put them into one book, but when the book is less than 100 pages, one has to assume some important facts were left out, unless those seven seasons were extremely boring, which the writing does not support.
With all of the happenings that McBane briefly mentions, the book certainly has the possibility to be at least double in length. Perhaps there was some trouble finding resources that related to this book, but there is no evidence that McBane looked for any sources outside of Akron, such as newspapers in towns where other teams played, to pull other facts about the team and league. This would have no doubt added some of what the book is missing.
Much of the book is spent quoting former Akron Beacon Journal sports editor Jim Schlemmer, who covered the Yankees throughout their time in town. Other than a few quotes from some of the former players, it is unclear how much research was done outside of articles from the ABJ and those by Schlemmer specifically.
So many interesting things happened during the time the Yankees were in Akron, that they deserved a much better work to be dedicated to them. While there is mention of the exhibition games in which Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio played at the old League Park in Akron, there isn’t nearly enough to appease the serious baseball nut. An entire chapter could have easily been dedicated to this subject, but instead they are just passed by as other exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals and Homestead Grays.
The book’s strongpoint is the examination of the off the field happenings and the description of what the city of Akron had to do in order to get and then keep the team. While the Akron Yankees were in the lowest rung of the Minor Leagues, Class D, the team city seemed to have an inordinate amount of trouble just convincing the Senior Yanks to keep their team in Akron.
The organization usually worked off of one year contracts and handshakes that improvements were to be made to one thing or another, making fans not all that optimistic that their team was here to stay.
This book had the chance to tell a great story about a lost and forgotten team, but unfortunately it comes up short in many regards.
Overall Rating: 2.25/5

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3 Comments

  1. Bill Jordan

    January 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for linking back to our article.

  2. Al Costa

    May 30, 2012 at 8:54 am

    FYI: The ballpark pictured is League Park in Cleveland, Ohio – not Akron.

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