Book Reviews

“Urban Shocker: Silent Hero of Baseball’s Golden Age”

Book review at Knup Sports

Tom examines the life and career of pitcher Urban Shocker.

Urban Shocker was known by baseball fans but few knew how good he really was and how he pitched while sick with a heart issue. This book details his 13 seasons in the big leagues as a member of the Yankees, Browns, and Yankees again.

Shocker was confident in his abilities and many called him cocky on the mound. In 1916, he signed with the New York Yankees and pitched in two games before they re-assigned him to Toronto of the International League. He was unhappy about the demotion and promptly pitched 54 consecutive scoreless innings for Toronto. In August, he got called back to New York and was as confident as ever.

He was a keen baseball man and read the papers to see who was hot and who was not. He watched batters and all of their little idiosyncracies before pitching to them. He developed a slow ball which today is the same as a change-up. Urban also threw a spitter pitcher but no very often.

Then he got a surprise. Miller Huggins became the Yankees manager in 1918 and he promptly traded Shocker to the St. Louis Browns. Shocker loved New York but St. Louis was his home. Later in life, Huggins admitted it was the biggest mistake he made.

In 1925, the Yankees re-acquired him after successful seasons with St. Louis. However,  Shocker began having health problems such as dizziness and shortness of breath. He never let anyone in baseball know this so he began to find a way to pace himself. He began to lose weight and he considers retirement.

But joining the Yankees gave him a lift in his spirits and he gave it his all. He never let on he had health problems. He found his way to the 1927 Yankees. On May 30, 1927, he pitched two scoreless innings of baseball. It was his last game in the major leagues.

He died in 1928 from an outworked and enlarged heart. He was buried in St. Louis and over 1,000 fans and teammates were in attendance to show their final respect to Urban Shocker. Lou Gehrig and other personalities of baseball were pallbearers for his funeral.

This book should be read by all baseball fans. It gets into details about one of the best and maybe the least known pitcher of his era. The book is a treasure of information from 1915-1928. You will like it!

I would like to thank the University of Nebraska Publishing for sending a copy to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

About the Author:

Steve Steinberg is a baseball historian and coauthor with Lyle Spatz of The Colonel and the Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees. He is an award winner from the Society of American Baseball Research and winner of the Seymour Medal.

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