Over the past month we’ve had the opportunity of looking at some of the most beloved Yankee teams and players.
It’s been a pleasure for me to recommend books on DiMaggio, Gehrig, and the 1990s Torre dynasty. Not every great book on the Yankees, however, is concerned with people from the past. As the Bronx Bombers continue their quest for World Series title number 28, more and more authors are beginning to write the story of today’s Yankee stars.
I believe that Bryan Hoch’s The Baby Bombers is the first great book on the current Yankees. Published in 2018, The Baby Bombers provides an inside look at the formation of what could be the next Yankee dynasty. Hoch, who has covered the Yanks as a beat reporter since 2007, is a true authority on the organization. He has an excellent understanding of the players that we’ve rooted for since 2016 and will continue to root for in 2020. Thanks to Hoch’s work in The Baby Bombers, we can feel like Yankees experts as well.
Out With the Old, In With the New
Hoch begins The Baby Bombers by looking at the slow breakdown of the 2009 championship team. As the Core Four rode off into the sunset, the Yankees began to fade from their spot atop the American League. While the Bombers did make playoff runs in ’10, ’11, and ’12, all three seasons ended in disappointment. The magic from the 2009 run was never recaptured by a succession of aging ball clubs.
There were memorable moments between 2010 and 2014, and Hoch records the best in his opening chapters. He recalls Pettitte’s final outing in pinstripes, when Andy pitched a gem in Houston. He recounts Rivera’s tear-filled farewell from the mound at Yankee Stadium. Hoch also provides fascinating insight into Jeter’s last game in the Bronx. He looks at how the Captain overcame a sea of emotions to deliver one final victory on a signature single the other way.
After covering the Yankees’ failed roster revamp in 2015, Hoch looks at how Steinbrenner and Cashman approached the 2016 rebuild. It was interesting to learn more about the organization’s attitude toward an overhaul. While Cashman certainly had the support of ownership, Hoch stresses the importance that Hal placed on remaining competitive. The Yankees sold at the 2016 deadline, but they also promoted players that were ready to contribute in the Bigs.
Getting to Know You
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Baby Bombers is the way that Hoch explores players’ backgrounds. Several of the early chapters explain how the Yankees discovered the likes of Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, and others. We get to learn about Judge’s childhood in little Linden, California. Hoch highlights Aaron’s many athletic accomplishments during high school and college. He also looks at Judge’s meteoric rise through the minors and his smashing entrance to the majors in 2016.
The stories about Latin American prospects like Sanchez and Severino are particularly inspiring. Hoch details the tremendous talent of these two Yankee stars, and shows how baseball transformed their lives. Sanchez’s first contract allowed him to buy his mother a new house, and a young Sevy saw baseball as a way to help his struggling family. Hoch does a wonderful job of pulling back the curtain. He gives us a clearer picture of who our favorite Yankees are when they’re off the field. He tells us where they came from, and he shows us where they’re going. This portion of the book contains some excellent information on Yankees’ scouting and player development as well.
Some of the stories that Hoch tells are especially impactful because they involve players who are now no longer with the team. Reading about Didi and Dellin was sad, but therapeutic. Owning a copy of The Baby Bombers means that I’ll always be able to go back and remember what an impact both of those players had on the next generation of Yankee stars.
I also enjoyed Hoch’s retelling of the 2017 Yankees season. After learning so much about the Baby Bombers, it was exciting to see them in action, racing toward the playoffs and reestablishing the Yankees at the top of the American League. For anybody that followed the 2017 team, Hoch’s book is a blast. All of the seasons’s highlights are recalled, including the dramatic playoff victories against Minnesota, Cleveland, and Houston.
While the identity of the Yankees has changed slightly over the last few weeks, the Baby Bombers are still the heart of the team. For the foreseeable future, the Yankees’ fortunes will be tied to the success of young stars like Judge, Sanchez, Torres, and Severino. I cannot think of a better way to begin the next decade of Yankee baseball than by reading The Baby Bombers. It is a book that will give you a deeper appreciation for the players that we’ll root for over the next ten years. I am sure that many great books will eventually be written about this generation of Yankee stars. I am also sure that Hoch’s book will be remembered as the first.
The Baby Bombers is available in print, digital, and audible formats.
The book review series will continue with a look at The New York Yankees of the 1950s: Mantle, Stengel, Berra, and a Decade of Dominance by David Fischer.