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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

January 23, 2002|John Klima

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: 1960: The Last Pure Season

Who: Kerry Keene Sports Publishing Inc.

Price: $22.95

Bill Mazeroski's jubilant romp around the bases in Game 7 of the World Series inspired Massachusetts baseball historian Kerry Keene to reconstruct the 1960 season. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, Keene's workmanlike prose diligently unearths the details of the season best remembered for Mazeroski's memorable home run off Ralph Terry. But Keene's overall material is strictly for the slow dance, and rather than place the season in a broader historical spectrum, the book becomes bogged down in detail. The 1960 season, in fact, did not signal the end of the Yankees' dynasty. Behind Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, New York won the World Series in 1961 and 1962. Mazeroski's home run simply delayed the Yankees' decline, which started in 1964. The Yankees did not win another pennant until 1976.

However, Keene scores points for his passion. It was prime season for a generation of hero-worshiping Baby Boomers. Maury Wills was redefining the leadoff role, and Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax finished atop the league in strikeouts. The Giants ushered in Juan Marichal. Ted Williams left the game in poetic style, hitting a home run in his last at-bat.

It's a solid effort, but don't look for perspective to prevail over nostalgia. Keene's book reads like the back of a bubble-gum card, which is OK if you don't mind the aftertaste.

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