New from Simon & Schuster

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne
Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
You Can't Make This Stuff Up by Theresa Caputo
The Last Commissioner

The Last Commissioner

A Baseball Valentine

On a beautiful July morning in 1991, three men gathered in a hotel suite for an informal breakfast and conversation. The discussion ranged widely over events and characters of the past, famous names and fabled accomplishments flowing along with the coffee and juice. Two of them, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, were the ultimate symbols of athletic glory for generations of American men. The third man, Fay Vincent, was living a dream, sitting with and asking questions of his boyhood heroes.

Fay Vincent never set out to be the commissioner of baseball. He got into the game alongside his good friend A. Bartlett Giamatti, as deputy commissioner, when Giamatti was named to the sport's highest office in 1989. They spent their first spring and summer dealing with Pete Rose's gambling, and Vincent's legal expertise complemented his friend's moral thunder. But that was to be their only season working side by side, as Bart Giamatti's heart gave out just days after the announcement of the Rose suspension. Vincent found himself the only logical candidate to fill a position as guardian of the best interests of the game he loves.

In The Last Commissioner: A Baseball Valentine, Vincent takes us along for the ultimate fan's fantasy camp. As commissioner, he got to talk baseball with the likes of Yogi Berra, Larry Doby, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks, Eddie Lopat, Whitey Ford, and Henry Aaron. He brought his legal training to bear on the delicate issue of whether Roger Clemens uttered the magic word that would justify his being tossed out of a playoff game (and it's not the word you think). He was one of the few outsiders at the annual Hall of Fame banquet for the new inductees and their immortal peers, where he watched, amazed, as Johnny Mize demonstrated to Ralph Kiner his method of hitting an inside pitch -- a piece of advice from forty years past. And he brought equal respect and attention to the greats of the Negro Leagues, listening to the gracefully told stories of Joe Black and Buck O'Neil, slowly learning how Slick Surratt earned his nickname, hearing Jimmie Crutchfield give as good a definition of a well-lived life as we will ever know.

Vincent shares these stories and more: his high regard for umpires, instilled in his youth by his father, an NFL official and respected local ump; his close relations with the Bush family, forged in a summer spent working in the oil fields with his schoolmate Bucky Bush, the 41st president's brother (and 43rd president's uncle); his unusual experiences with the relentless George Steinbrenner, including the famous meeting where the Yankees owner was facing a two-year suspension and plea-bargained it down to a lifetime ban. Vincent also gives his candid views on the state of baseball today, firm in his belief that the game will survive its current leadership and even prosper.

Through it all, Vincent's deep love of baseball shines through. His most remarkable accomplishment as commissioner may have been to emerge from the office with his fandom intact. The Last Commissioner is truly a valentine to the game, written with the insight and vision that comes from the lofty perch of the ultimate front-row seat.
Choose a format:
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416578017 | 
  • September 2007
Add to Cart
List Price $22.95
Usually ships within 1 business day

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Joe and Ted

Mostly, I've been lucky. I came of baseball age in the late 1940s, when Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were at the height of their powers. My family lived in southern Connecticut, in New Haven, a train ride away from Boston and a train ride away from New York. You could get the Red Sox games on the radio. But the Yankee games you could get -- if you actually had one -- on TV. We had a DuMont TV, black-and-white, about the size of a breadbox; my father, a frugal New Englander, had won it at a raffle at a Polish Catholic church in New Haven. I rooted for DiMaggio's Yankees, much to my father's... see more

About the Author

Fay Vincent
Courtesy of the New England Collegiate Baseball League

Fay Vincent

Fay Vincent is a former entertainment and business executive who served as the commissioner of baseball from 1989 to 1992.  This volume is the third in a series drawn from his Baseball Oral History Project. The previous two volumes, The Only Game in Town and We Would Have Played for Nothing, include ballplayers’ reminiscences of the 1930s and 1940s, and the 1950s and 1960s, respectively.

BECOME A FAN

Explore

CONNECT WITH US

Get a FREE eBook
when you join our mailing list!