Reviews

Book Jacket commentary by Phil Pepe, Author of more than 50 books on baseball

"Growing up in Brooklyn in the thirties, forties, and fifties, rooting for the Dodgers was a religious experience next to Godliness. As kids, we idolized Dixie Walker, Pee Wee Reese, Cookie Lavagetto, Leo Durocher, and Dolph Camilli - their names as familiar to us as those of our own cousins, aunts, and uncles - and we followed their exploits as if they were members of our family. Just as to us were the names of National League umpires, but while we knew that Dixie Walker's nickname was 'The Peepuls Cherce'; that Pee Wee Reese was a marble champion from Louisville, Kentucky; that Cookie Lavagetto's real namewas 'Harry'; that Leo Durocher was married to actress Lorraine Day; and that familiar Dolph Camilli had a brother who fought professionally under the name Frankie Campbell and died after he was KO'd by heavyweight champion, Max Baer, we knew little about umpires Babe Pinelli, George Magerkurth, Larry Goetz, Al Barlick, Beans Reardon, Jocko Conlan, and Frank Dascoli.

"Now along comes John Bacchia to enlighten us about Augie Donatelli and enrich us with stories of a man who was a World War II hero involved in eighteen missions as a B-17 tail gunner, spent fifteen months as a German prisoner-of war where he began umpiring softball games, fled the Pennsylvania coal mines to pursue a career as an umpire, was promoted in his new career by no less a fIgure than Branch Rickey, was behind the plate for four no-hitters and such historic games as Stan Musial's 3,000th hit and Willie Mays's four home runs against the Milwaukee Braves, and was at the forefront and instrumental in the creation of the first umpires' union, the Major League Umpires Association, in 1964.

"Regrettably, John Bacchia's masterful and compelling biography of this man comes posthumously, some two decades after his death. Yet we are grateful to him for bringing Donatelli's story to light. As they say, to honor and acknowledge such a full and productive life and career is better late than never."

- Phil Pepe, author of 50 books on baseball, including The Wit and Wisdom of Yogi Berra