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Cooperstown Confidential    by Zev Chafets order for
Cooperstown Confidential
by Zev Chafets
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

Baseball and politics are two institutions that are woven together. There has been a great deal of discussion on how the two have worked together for generations. Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame looks into baseball's hidden history, its politics, and its hallowed institution, the Hall of Fame. Inside the Hall are many characters whose extracurricular activities were glossed over in a much different era by a much friendlier press compared to today's twenty-four hour news and gossip cycle.

Chafets airs dirty laundry about the politics behind the election process into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the politicking done by players to get elected, from Bob Lemon sending lemons to the Baseball Writers' Association of America (the voters who elect ball players into the Hall) to the case of Shoeless Joe Jackson, where big business backed posthumous player election campaigns. The politics of baseball's struggle with racial issues over the years and how the Hall has struggled more than the game itself to adjust to the changing demographics of those who play the sport are also chronicled.

Chafets speaks candidly about steroids and whether baseball should turn a blind eye to those who used performance enhancing drugs in their career. He lays out arguments suggesting that player performance, was not enhanced significantly by use of steroids combined with the Hall of Fame having various other cheaters in its midst (including a pitcher who won 300 games using the illegal spitball). While I don't necessarily subscribe to the argument that those who cheat the game and its fans should be a part of baseball's Hall of Fame, he presents the case well and the book as a whole is a solid read, looking into a hallowed institution that is neither hallowed nor perfect in its affairs and handling of the game over the years.

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