Melvin Thomas Ott was smaller than most home run sluggers, at 5'9", 170 pounds, but he could sure hit 'em as far as the big boys. Over a 22-year playing career with the New York Giants, Ott slapped 511 homers, then a National League record. At the tender age of 20, he erupted on the scene with career highs of 42 home runs and 152 RBIs. He went on to win or share six home run titles, appear in 11 All-Star Games and play in three World Series. It was a foregone conclusion when Ott was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951. This is the first-ever biography of baseball's renowned "nice guy." Every aspect of his remarkable baseball career is covered, from his jump to the big leagues at age 17 to his tragic death at age 49. Ott's managerial and broadcasting careers are also discussed. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (5)
Mel Ott: The Little Giant Who Was A Big Man
Mel Ott, in this day and age, seems to be a forgotten superstar.I think there are a number of reasons for this: the team he played for moved from its home of more than 70 years, from the place Ott played to a city across the country, where it developed its own heroes; he died at much too young an age, he was never a controversial figure in baseball, and the records he set, especially the league records, were largely eclipsed - a normal happening over time - by someone who played on the same team that he did, so he didn't even get to own the team records that he set.
Thus, Fred Stein has done us all a favor by writing this book to remind us of the talent of Mel Ott, and of the temperment, sportsmanship and manners of the man.He traces Ott's life from his roots in Louisiana up to New York City, the development of his talent, the foresight of John McGraw to educate and protect him from anyone who would change his batting style, through his many years of stardom and his managerial efforts.There was not much of the book devoted to after he was released as manager of the Giants, such as his work on the farm system or his time as a Tigers broadcaster, but in the big picture of Ott's life, these are only footnotes to the greatness of his career.
One other item that did bother me: at the end of the book, the author interviews a writer who, in the course of his work, interviewed Carl Hubbell and found him to be "dull," and had the opportunity to sit at the same table with Dizzy Dean, Frank Frisch and Rogers Hornsby, whom he described as a "boor," a "chatterbox," and "mean," I believe the descriptions were.The writer and Stein are entitled to their opinions about these people, and they may well be truthful and honest in their assessment; except for Rogers Hornsby, I hadn't heard the other gentlemen described in these terms, not to say that they may or may not be of which they are accused.I do know that by this stage of the book (almost at the end), Mel Ott does not need to be compared to these gentlemen; Stein has already completely made his point that Ott is polite, kind, entertaining, a fine interview, etc.There's no need to elevate Ott at the expense of lowering these ex-players.Ott and his personality can stand by itself; if you want to call someone a "boor" or "dull," write a book about them and how they got to be that way; all of these fellows would make interesting topics in biographies (by the way, there are good books about Dean and Hornsby out there).
Also, something interesting that Stein did not mention but would have been a point of coincidence is the number of ex-Giants in that era that died from auto accidents.Besides Mel Ott, other teammates include Carl Hubbell and Frank Frisch; there may be more, but I'd have to investigate.It's not often that a number of teammates and stars pass away from the same cause.
Mel Ott: The Little Giant of Baseball
Fred Stein did a terrific job of bringing Mel Ott to life with great stories of his entry into baseabll at the age of 16 and his subsequent rise to become a Hall of Famer . The Postal Service recently honored Mel Ott by issuing a commemorative stamp and named him one of the all time great sluggers. Stein depicts the era in which Ott, Terry and Mcgraw as manager of the NY GIants, played, as one of the most exciting times to witness the greats in action. Well done and a must for any baseball enthusiast.
Add This Book to Your Baseball Library
Author Fred Stein has provided us with a well written biography about Mel Ott, one of the greatest players in the storied history of the New York Giants baseball team.Milton Shapiro wrote a biography of Ott in 1959 on a more juvenile level and it was long overdue for another more detailed biography of Master Melvin.Ott arrived at the Polo Grounds in the mid 1920's for a tryout on the recommendation of Harry Williams, a friend of Giants' manager John McGraw.McGraw didn't want anyone tampering with Ott's batting stance in the minor leagues and wanted to keep a close watch on the young teen ager.After gradually breaking Ott into the lineup and with the added confidence, Ott became one of the most popular players ever to play with the Giants.The book covers the story of Bill Terry's succeeding McGraw as Giants' manager as well as Ott's career as Terry's successor at the helm. It may be true that Ott didn't have the disposition to be a manager.When he acted up over an umpire's decision, his ranting just didn't appear to be real.I read with great surprise that Ott didn't attend his Hall of Fame induction at Cooperstown in 1951 because he was managing the Oakland Oaks in the minor leagues.I remember very well when Ott broadcasted Detroit Tigers' baseball games with Van Patrick from 1956 through 1958 and enjoyed him very much.His death in November of 1958 was a great loss to all of baseball and to those who followed the Tigers on the radio.Many athletes may be great on the field, but are a disappointment off the field.Ott didn't disappoint those who looked up to him.The book is easy to read and should be enjoyable for anyone from teen agers to adults.Thanks, Fred Stein for a great effort.I only wish the book was available in hard cover.
Very nice telling of Mel's story
This book really showed me how good Mel was as a player and as a person. He was my great uncle, and although I never got to meet him (since he died before I was born), this book provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about him and how he lived his life. I recommend this book to any Mel Ott enthusiast or just about anybody who likes baseball, as it tells about one of baseball's best players and best people.
A fascinating account of baseball as it once was!
I initially ordered this book because I wanted to learn more about the life and times of a hall-of-famer whose mono-syllabic name appeared so often in baseball's record books.But I came away with a greatappreciation for baseball in far simpler times.The author's love andaffection for his boyhood hero and his undying devotion to our nationalpasttime leaps from the pages.
A must read for anyone who loves baseballand heroes.
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