The Least Among Them
The Least Among Them: 29 Players, Their Brief Moments in the Big Leagues, and A Unique History of the New York Yankees
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National Review - 2021
Books of the Year "And Paul Semendinger in The Least Among Them has a unique take on baseball history. Presenting short biographies of Yankee players who had only one major-league appearance, he uses the stories of those games to share interesting lessons about different aspects of baseball history. While it’s obviously more enjoyable if you are a Yankees fan, all baseball fans will appreciate his learned commentary on subjects including the designated hitter and the minor leagues."
"True Yankee fans, those who have attained a virtual Ph.D. level of fandom, can address each other in code. They can say "34" and know they are referring to Tony Kubek's rookie uniform number. So now comes this, perhaps the ultimate insider book. If you say 'Loyd Colson' to a Yankee fan and get a knowing wink in return, with a reminder that there is only one 'L' in Loyd, you know you are talking to someone worthy. Otherwise, send them home to read Paul Semendinger's book of one-game wonders and tell them not to return until they have mastered it. Only then can they write 'Ph.D. NYY' after their names."
Marty Appel, Yankee historian and former team executive, and author of Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss.
"Forget Babe, Lou, and the Mick for a moment, and enjoy the stories of Honey, Rugger, and Clem. This charming and meticulously researched book will remind you of baseball's power to change and enrich lives far beyond the diamond."
Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Ali: A Life
"There's a love song by Luther Vandross entitled, "If Only for One Night." The equivalent for baseball love might be, for the average Joe Ballplayer/ Dreamer, "If Only for One Day." Paul Semendinger highlights these 'one day in MLB' stories, even better that they are all in Yankees pinstripes, in a totally entertaining read. The reality is one day in "the Show" would never be enough for most and reflect shattered dreams. But for these ballplayers they have bragging rights that most of us, especially Yankees fans, can only dream about. Thank you, Paul, for finding and telling these unique stories worthy of engaging our imaginations and tugging on our emotions."
Robert Skead, author of Safe at Home, a baseball card mystery, and other popular children's books
"Paul Semendinger cleverly unravels New York Yankees history by pulling on the string of 29 players whose major league careers consisted of one game with the club. While telling their unknown stories, he finds connections with other Yankees and events. The Least Among Them is a delightful journey into the past of baseball's most hallowed franchise."
Barry Sparks, author of Frank "Home Run" Baker: World Series Hero and Hall of Famer
"Every guy who spends just one day on an MLB team's 25-man roster represents the dreams of tens of thousands of boys. With meticulous research and clever storytelling, Paul Semendinger pays homage to the 29 lucky ones who were able to live out that dream for one afternoon in Pinstripes. The Least Among Them promises to be the best among choices for Yankees' fans looking to add to their baseball libraries."
David Ostrowsky, author of Pro Sports in 1993
"The most impressive scholarship on the Yankees I have read, "The Least Among Them" literally fills the gaping hole between biographies of famous Yankees of world fame and national attention, like "Dinner with DiMaggio," with genuinely profound sketches of lesser-known Yankees who could have nudged the likes of the Yankee Clipper but could not. It reads like a good novel. It's a page turner mainly because the writing is superb, the scholarship involved impeccable, and the author sticks to his narrative in spite of a bewildering history of Minor, Major and international League involvement of his many profiles. It is a back door history: we get the origin of the Seventh Inning Stretch, three fingered ball players, a history of varied "Docs" (ball players with that nickname and why) and other social histories. If you are a Yankee fan, and want a good read, Least Among Them is a mandatory purchase."
Dr. Rock Positano and John Positano award-winning authors of Dinner With DiMaggio
"Semendinger has made remarkable the seemingly unremarkable moments of 29 players who had less than a cup of coffee in the majors. Through his story telling, we learn the names of Batton, Newkirk and Marsonek while also enjoying their everlasting connection to legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle. A great read for anyone who has ever dreamed of playing in the big leagues, if only for just one game."
Chris Donnelly, author of Doc, Donnie, the Kid, and Billy Brawl: How the 1985 Mets and Yankees Fought For New York's Baseball Soul
"The Least Among Them" is a treasure trove of fascinating stories about lesser known Yankees, lovingly researched and crafted by writer/historian Paul Semendinger. A must-read for Yankee fans and the baseball cognoscenti."
Jon Leonoudakis, Baseball Documentarian
"Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court once wrote: "I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people's accomplishments." Paul Semendinger in his fine new tome has recorded details on those special New York Yankees or Highlianders who had one and only one game in the major leagues. Most of us can only dream of what these people did, and the details Paul brings to each story brings them all to life. Fun read and even as a long-time SABR member, I learned plenty about both baseball and Yankees history!"
Rich Klein, 3-Time SABR National Trivia Champion, 40 Years on writing about the Sports Collecting Hobby
"There are scores of books on Yankee icons - Ruth, Mantle, Berra, et al. Paul Semendinger hits the opposite way and highlights the tiniest bit players in the Yankee saga, guys who played but a single game for sport's most famous franchise. The result: a parade of twenty-nine Moonlight Grahams, some of them literally one-hit wonders (I'm looking at you, Heinie Odom), whose stories are fresh to even the most dedicated and well-read of baseball fanatics. These are guys who got a sip, not even a full cup of coffee in the major leagues. I found myself downing the book in large gulps for both the fine storytelling and the deep research that went into it. Some of these players were lucky to get their line in a Yankee box score; others could have had so much more, like the prospect who tore his rotator cuff hurling his first inning in the big leagues. Make room on your reading list for this one. You'll come back to it again and again."
Dan Joseph, author of Last Ride of the Iron Horse: How Lou Gehrig Fought ALS to Play One Last Championship Season.
"How nice to read a book about the Yankees that is not centered around Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, or any of the other legendary members of the game's most legendary team. Instead, Paul Semendinger brings to life a bevy of men who appeared in just one game for the Yankees. Men such as Eddie Quick, Honey Barnes, George Batten, Larry McClure, and George Washburn - players with interesting stories whom even the most devoted Yankees-follower would have trouble identifying.
In addition to bringing these players to life, Semendinger adds context to their stories with a highly informative treatise devoted to one or another interesting aspect of baseball. This book is a wonderful read for any historian or fan of the game, and a must-have if your team is the Yankees."
Lyle Spatz, Chairman of SABR's Baseball Records Committee and the author of New York Yankees Openers, Yankees Coming...Yankees Going
"A poignant look at 29 men, from 1903 to 2011, whose entire Major League career consisted of but one game, and that was with the Yankees. This was their moment in the sun, and Paul Semendinger brings them back to life. Each of their sketches has an "Extra Innings" coda that tells relevant stories of far more famous Yankees. Taken together, a wonderfully refreshing angle to view America's most famous sports club."
Steve Steinberg, baseball historian and co-author of books on the Yankees of Babe Ruth's era, 1921 and The Colonel and Hug
"In the United States, there are surely more books written about baseball than any other sport. Even Amazon can't keep a tally. When you type 'baseball books' into the search window, Amazon has the total narrowed to "over 20,000.'' So you'd think all the good baseball-book ideas have been used up by now. But here comes author Paul Russell Semendinger with a fresh angle. His new book, The Least Among Them: 29 Players, Their Brief Moments in the Big Leagues, and A Unique History of the New York Yankees, is a fascinating study of luck, timing and the unpredictable, arduous, near-impossible path to the Major Leagues. These are the stories of men who spent a single day with the Yankees. Elvio Jimenez in 1964 was fortunate enough in his one game to play 13 innings. Frank Verdi in 1953 played one, never touching the ball and never stepping to the plate. Charlie Fallon in 1905 was a pinch runner in the last inning back when the Yankees were the Highlanders. Floyd Newkirk in 1934 pitched a solid ninth inning despite having just three fingers on his pitching hand. That's another thing I like about the book-the short history lessons interspersed with the players' stories. Most of us know that Derek Jeter had the longest tenure as Yankees team captain with 12. But did you know Babe Ruth had the shortest with just five games? Semendinger is a fine writer and his passion for the game-and its players-shine through every page of The Least Among Them."
Joan Ryan, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of five books including Intangibles
"I am an admirer of deep dives when it comes to baseball, and Paul splashes elegantly into the pool in this regard. Exhaustively researched and very well-crafted, even a Mets guy like me can appreciate his work! This is for fans who want to fill their curiosity gaps; Paul has done the work and done it well. If you like learning things you never knew, and if the Yankees are your team, jump on in."
Josh Lewin, Sportscaster (Fox Sports, and various teams including the Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Orioles, and Tigers)
"I don't think I've ever seen a book quite like it - the least storied players on baseball's most storied team. Paul Semendinger digs deep to find not the hidden gems of the Yankee organization but the fool's gold-players who for one reason or another lasted but a single game with the Bombers. It's a fascinating concept and Semendinger's book delivers. Semendinger manages to pull off the seemingly impossible - a deep dive into the shallow waters of these most minor Yankees. Pick up a copy and I promise that you'll stick with it longer than these guys did in pinstripes."
Mitchell Nathanson, author of Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original and God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen
"The Least Among Them is a unique and fascinating work, a look at the greatest of sports franchises through its most marginal players. Here are the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the (briefly) perfect, men who for one reason or another lasted just one game for the New York Yankees. Paul Semendinger pivots from their individual stories-poignant, tragic, uplifting - to tell the extraordinary story of baseball."
Kevin Baker, author of Sometimes You See It Coming and Becoming Mr. October (with Reggie Jackson)
"The Least Among Them provides an original look into 29 unique threads that contribute to the fabric of the game's most storied franchise - The New York Yankees. Inside this well researched book you'll be amazed by the stories within the stories, and come away with a new appreciation for the "cup of coffee" ballplayer. Semendinger delivers a fun and thoughtful book; an enjoyable read for not only passionate Yankee fans, but for any lover of the history of the game."
Matt Dahlgren, author of Rumor In Town: A Grandson's Promise to Right a Wrong and The Flannel Past.
"You know the greats from the Yankees history: Ruth. Mantle. DiMaggio. Jeter. A hundred more names every casual baseball fan knows. But the men in this collection are the lesser-known. The men who had their one brief shining moment. Their cup of coffee in pinstripes. Their stories are equally important and definitely fascinating."
Armand Rosamilia, author of A View From My Seat: My Baseball Season With the Jumbo Shrimp
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2021 Gold Winner Foreword Reviews INDIES Book Award - Adventure, Sports, and Recreation (Adult Non-Fiction)
2022 Gold Winner CIPA EVVY book awards - History—General/Military/United States
2022 Silver Winner CIPA EVVY book awards - Health/Fitness/Medicine/Sports
2022 Finalist New Mexico/Arizon Book Awards - Sports/Recreation
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