Books A breezy read on the Yanks, but sentimentality clouds bios of Hank Aaron and Marion Jones

August 13, 2000

All Roads Lead to October
By Maury Allen
St. Martin's Press, $24.95

This book, subtitled Boss Steinbrenner's 25-Year Reign over the
New York Yankees, has many of the virtues and nearly all the
defects of a meandering bull session among vintage baseball
writers. Allen tells a good story, as anyone who has covered New
York baseball for the better part of four decades should. One
anecdote will remind him of another, sometimes only dimly related
to the first, and he'll be off and running. Fortunately, he
generally finds his way back to Point A, although there is no
assurance the reader will join him there.

Along his wandering way, Allen covers a lot of ground, some of it
quite familiar, and introduces a vast assortment of characters,
some of them even more familiar. He's at his best issuing pithy
assessments of such personalities as Reggie Jackson, Billy
Martin, Thurman Munson and the curmudgeonly sportswriter Dick
Young. His protagonist, though, is the most complicated character
of them all, the Boss, George Steinbrenner. Allen captures the
paradoxical mixture of callousness and generosity, arrogance and
sentimentality, competence and silliness that propelled the
Yankee leader onto baseball's center stage. There is even the
suggestion that the man might have a conscience. Allen thinks
that despite "a generation of tyranny and terror" Steinbrenner
might well belong in the Hall of Fame.

Me and Hank
By Sandy Tolan
The Free Press, $24

On the surface this is a fan's love letter to his boyhood idol,
Hank Aaron. But if the reader can wade through the first 50 pages
of treacle, he'll find much more than initially meets the eye. A
freelance writer and radio producer, Tolan examines Aaron's
record-breaking, troubled and now increasingly overlooked career
from every conceivable angle, interviewing the slugger's family,
friends, fans and teammates. There is rich material here. I just
wish the author hadn't called his hero "Hank" all the way
through.

See How She Runs
By Ron Rapoport
Algonquin Books, $21.95

With the Olympic Games virtually upon us, the timing couldn't be
more ripe for a biography of America's greatest female track
athlete, Marion Jones, even if she's not yet 25-years-old.
Rapoport, who writes for the Chicago Sun-Times and is a
contributor to National Public Radio, certainly should be capable
of bringing such a short life to, well, life. The only problem is
that his affection for his subject and his reverence for her
deeds are so manifest that this biography reads more like
hagiography. Not that this will much bother Jones's international
legion of fans.

COLOR PHOTO: ST. MARTIN'S PRESS COLOR PHOTO: FREE PRESS COLOR PHOTO: ALGONQUIN BOOKS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)