“Field Of Dreams” Meets “It’s A Wonderful Life,” in Former Yankees’ Powerful Insider Book
Believe me. You really want to learn who Jeff Mangold is.
The more you know Mangold, and the more pages of Power and Pinstripes : My Years Training the New York Yankees (www.triumphbooks.com), you'll learn so much more of how the World Series winning Yankees (1998-2000) prepared themselves for some of the most important seasons in the organizations history.
Mangold is clearly one of the nicest, more genuine authors I have ever come across. I sincerely mean - ever. As the head strength and conditioning coach for the Yankees, during two stints, that spanned 14 years in the Bronx, Mangold was back with the club at the right time in baseball history.
Nine consecutive American League East championships, five World Series appearances, three times World Series champions ('98-'00). Mangold has more memories than he could have ever imagined, when leaving his conditioning post at the University of Florida in 1984, to come east with the Bronx Bombers.
If you're a Yankees fan, especially, Power and Pinstripes is a must for you to add to your personal library.
Mangold is the guy who was part of the Yankees' training staff that motivated Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams to maintain their bodies in the best possible physical shape, for when post season play came about. He was there for so many important moments in Yankees modern history. The perfect games thrown by David Cone and David Wells, Mangold was in the dugout with one of the best views of baseball history in the making - twice.
These are the great times in Yankee history that Mangold fills in the details, page after page in Power and Pinstripes.
Then (my favorite) there is the details on what it was like being part of manager Joe Torre's "meals group", when the club was on the road. As much as a dozen times during a season, Torre would have his coaching and training staff assemble as his partners in eating in the finest restaurants.
You have to read about the Torre meal that took place in Montreal. It involves then Yankees' trainer Gene Monahan discussing hall of fame pitcher (and former Torre teammate) Bob Gibson with the Yankee skipper. It ends with Gibson on Torre's cell phone. The details are amazing.
But, nothing compares to an item that was in Mangold's possession for 14 years. Think of Game Two of the 2000 Subway Series. Roger Clemens pitching for the Yankees to Mets' catcher Mike Piazza. Remember in the first inning at Yankee Stadium, when Piazza's bat split, and the barrel being rocketed to the pitcher's mound?
Yep. THAT bat was collected and kept by Mangold. The story behind his taking possession of this important piece of baseball history, and ultimately having it auctioned off is off the wall. You will be sharing this story immediately with any baseball fan you know.
Power and Pinstripes ties up so many loose ends to many exciting moments in Yankees' history.
For a man born in small town America (Washington, Iowa), to training the best of the best the Yankees fielded, this is what movies are made of.
Today, living in Leland, North Carolina (west of downtown Wilmington), far from New Jersey (Mangold's home base when working for the Yankees), promoting Power and Pinstripes is his mission. Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, a close friend of Mangold's during their time together in the Bronx, wrote the book's foreword. Seven pages. This is a mini chapter, and a testament to what a profound effect Mangold had on some of the greatest players the game has ever known.
Even with all the thrills he experienced with the Yankees, receiving a box containing copies of Power and Pinstripes: My Years Training the New York Yankees is right up there in personal importance.
" When the box arrived, I opened it up right away," Mangold said earlier this week during a telephone conversation. " There were about 20 books. At first, I was a little apprehensive. I thought this (Power and Pinstripes) may not be good. It was strange to see my name on the cover. Peter Botte and I worked well as a team."
Many years back, when Mangold took his first steps in a career of fitness as a volunteer at the University of Nebraska, he never thought he would find himself working for an MLB club.
" I wanted to go all the way (with Power and Pinstripes). Sharing our (Yankees) trials and tribulations is important. You never knew what was coming. It went from grieving to exhilaration," explains Mangold.
Part of the exhilaration experienced by Mangold during his second term with the Yankees ('98-'06) was participating in the World Series ticker tape "Canyon of Heroes" parades - three times.
You want to now what it feels like to be on one of the vehicles during one of these parades? You answer lies in Power and Pinstripes.
With all that Mangold accomplished with and for the Yankees' organization, having a life after being around the stadium lights and baseball greats is also important to learn of.
" The challenge is on you," Mangold states. " Who you are is the supreme challenge, not what your job is of how much is in your bank account. It has been a couple of years now for me, and I had to move on. It was time to get off the merry-go-round."
Mangold's close working relationship with Yankees' late owner George Steinbrenner (Mangold drove Steinbrenner's car) saw him have the highest clearance of access within the organization.
Perhaps the most personal story Mangold shares came in 2006 - after Yankees' General Manager Brian Cashman didn't offer him a contract for the following season.
" I sat down in the Yankee bullpen, and looked out into the stadium. I took it all in - one more time. It was tough."
As each page of Power and Pinstripes proves, Mangold never took his time with the Yankees for granted. To this day, he knows how fortunate he is. Three winning World Series championships rings are good reminders of where he was and what was accomplished.
Since parting ways with the organization, Mangold has been to two Yankees games in the Bronx. Two. There's hurt in not being a part of the team. Watching is difficult. Mangold is learning how to let his emotions subside; to let it go.
Powers and Pinstripes is an honest deep dive into one of the greatest periods of New York Yankees history by a man who was helping the stars do what they did. Learning from someone on the "outside" on how those on the "inside" make history is rare. This changes with Power and Pinstripes.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.