SRU Good News for Sept 28, 2009
SRU history professor's book takes him to Joe McCarthy honor
One never knows where writing a book may lead. Alan Levy, Slippery Rock University history professor, found his work taking him to Niagara University last week to accept posthumous honors for baseball great Joe McCarthy, the subject of Levy's 2005 book "Joe McCarthy: Architect of the Yankee Dynasty."
Levy's book about McCarthy was the first-ever, in-depth biography of the unassuming baseball manager who had an uncanny ability to discover and nurture young baseball talent. During a 29-year span in the major leagues, McCarthy left a legacy of nine pennant and seven World Series wins. His record with the Yankees still stands.
McCarthy had no family members available, so Levy was asked to step in to accept the Niagara Legacy - Alumni of Distinction award as part of the third class of inductees. The ceremony is part of Vincentian Heritage Week.
The baseball great served as manager for such baseball luminaries as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. He honed some of his skills at Niagara starting as an infielder in 1905 according to a story about the induction ceremony in the Niagara Gazette. His nickname at the time for "Marse Joe."
McCarthy finished his 24-year major league career with a winning percentage of .614. He won 2,126 games.
Levy, who's taught at SRU for 20 years, started the biography during a professional sabbatical. "It gave me time for research at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y.," he said at the time of the book's publication. When he began work on the baseball star's biography, Levy said, he expected catalogs of books and information but found a biography of the man had never been written.
"There are many books about the game's top players - Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams - and about the great managers - John McGraw, Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin and Earl Weaver - but none about McCarthy. Sure, he's covered and written about in books, newspapers and magazines dealing with baseball's history, but no books singly look at this truly great baseball manager," Levy said.
Born in 1887 in Germantown, Pa., McCarthy lived to be 90 (1978) and served as manager of the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. While viewed by many sports fans as among the greatest managers ever, Levy explains, McCarthy lacked top praise at first because he had never played in the majors. His field experience was limited to minor league play - including the Toledo Mud Hens. He combined his talents for the game with an analytical mind and abilities that taught him to manage people, statistics and hone the skills necessary to get the best from his players.
Levy is the author eight other books including: "Musical Nationalism," a study of the American composers who came to prominence amidst the expatriate era of the 1920s; "Elite Education and the Private School," a discussion of the vagaries of private secondary education at one of the nation's premier academies; "Radical Aesthetics and Music Criticism," which looks at the relationship of leftist political ideologies to the realms of music and aesthetics; "Government and the Arts," a history of the debates over the subject of the federal government's support for the arts; a biography of the American composer "Edward MacDowell"; a biography of the zany, brilliant baseball player of the early 20th century titled "Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist"; "Tackling Jim Crow: Racial Segregation in Professional Football," a study of the origins, breakdowns, and legacies of racial segregation in professional football, and a biography titled "Floyd Patterson, a Boxer and a Gentleman," a look at the athletic, personal, and political travails of a heavyweight champion.
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