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BYB Podcast 80: Author Jon Pessah on the baseball business and Yogi Berra

Talking baseball from a Tigers’ perspective.

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2017 Major League Baseball World Series Game Two: Houston Astros v. Los Angeles Dodgers

In the wake of their strange and ultimately futile renegotiation of this season of COVID-19, and with the looming CBA negotiations next year, we brought in a heavy hitter for this one. Jon Pessah is one of the founding editors of ESPN the Magazine, and the acclaimed author of two books on baseball which will frame our discussion.

The first, is The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers. A behind-the-scenes history of the business of baseball from the tenure of early MLBPA chief, Marvin Miller, to the Rob Manfred/Tony Clark era, The Game focuses particularly on the 1994-1995 lockout and strike through the lens of Commissioner Bud Selig, Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner, and MLBPA chief Don Fehr. The book is comprehensively researched and sourced, the product of hundreds of interviews with all the major players, and a tour de force exploration of the games behind the game.

As a result, Pessah is uniquely situated to understand the power structure and dynamics behind major league baseball, and their evolution to the present day. We talked about the current strife, how all of this is a product of relatively recent history, and look ahead warily to next year’s expiring collective bargaining agreement.

Second, is the biography, Yogi: Life Behind the Mask, which was just released in April. Again the product of hundreds of interviews and years of research, the biography unpacks the man behind the myth and places one of the greatest players of all-time in his rightful context as the true hero and force behind the classic Yankees’ teams of the 50’s and 60’s.

For the final 20 minutes or so, we chatted about the life and times of one of the more enigmatic players in baseball history. Circumstances dictated we do this by phone, so please forgive the sound quality and occasional car passing in the background.

Intro: “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House” - Yo La Tengo