Urban Shocker


Urban Shocker

Silent Hero of Baseball's Golden Age

Steve Steinberg

352 pages
50 photographs, index


April 2017


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2017


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2017


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2018 SABR Baseball Research Award Winner

Baseball in the 1920s is most known for Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees, but there was another great Yankee player in that era whose compelling story remains untold. Urban Shocker was a fiercely competitive and colorful pitcher, a spitballer who had many famous battles with Babe Ruth before returning to the Yankees. Shocker was traded away to the St. Louis Browns in 1918 by Yankees manager Miller Huggins, a trade Huggins always regretted. In 1925, after four straight seasons with at least twenty wins with the hapless Browns, Shocker became the only player Huggins brought back to the Yankees. He finally reached the World Series, with the 1926 Yankees.

In the Yankees’ storied 1927 season, widely viewed to be the best in MLB history, Shocker pitched with guts and guile, finishing with a record of 18‑6 even while his fastball and physical skills were deserting him. Hardly anyone knew that Shocker was suffering from an incurable heart disease that left him able to sleep only while sitting up and which would take his life in less than a year. With his physical skills diminishing, he continued to win games through craftiness and well-placed pitches. 

Delving into Shocker’s baseball career, his love of the game, and his battle with heart disease, Steve Steinberg shows the dominant and courageous force that he was.

Author Bio

Steve Steinberg is a baseball historian and coauthor with Lyle Spatz of The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees (Nebraska, 2015), research award winner from the Society for American Baseball Research, and 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York (Nebraska, 2010), winner of the Seymour Medal.


"Urban Shocker . . . recalls a Yankees pitcher who should be better known for his name alone. A spitballer who was traded to the St. Louis Browns, Shocker had four 20-win seasons before returning to New York in time to be part of the 1927 championship team."—Daniel M. Gold, New York Times

"Thanks to Steve Steinberg, we now know as much about Urban Shocker as we are likely to know about anybody who played the game so long ago.  All athletes should be so lucky in their biographers."—Tim Morris, Sports Literature Association

"Steinberg has put together a nice biography of one of baseball lesser-known standouts."—Baseball Historian

"It is likely that Urban Shocker: Silent Hero of Baseball's Golden Age will stand as the definitive biography of one of the greatest pitchers of the first quarter of the twentieth century. It is a worthy addition to Steinberg's already outstanding body of work."—Ed Edmonds, NINE

“The short life of this canny pitcher of baseballs during the Roaring Twenties was filled with enough highs and lows, triumphs and heartaches, to keep you awake late into the night. Join Urban Shocker, Babe Ruth, and a fine cast of characters for the bumpy but well-written ride. Good stuff.”—Leigh Montville, author of best-selling biographies of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams

“From the greatest team of all time comes one of baseball’s most tragic and—somehow—forgotten players. Urban Shocker deserved better, and thanks to Steve Steinberg and his meticulous research, his fascinating story is finally told.”—Brian Kenny, MLB Network studio host

“Steve Steinberg makes history come alive. He paints such a vivid picture of the 1920s you would think he had actually been there and experienced it himself.”—Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, sports radio and TV personality

“I would rather read Steve Steinberg on Urban Shocker than just about anyone else on anything else. Steinberg and Shocker go together like Cracker Jack and baseball. You won’t care if you never get back!”—Rob Neyer, author, commentator, and analyst for ESPN, SB Nation, and Fox Sports

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
1. Passing By and Drawn In
2. Midwest Connections
3. Sandlots and Love of the Game
4. An Emerging Star in the Minors
5. False Start
6. A Magical Summer on the Island
7. Motor City Mischief 
8. The Returned Prodigal and the Coming Phenom
9. The Dream Team
10. The First Trade
11. Love and War and a Little Baseball
12. A Summer to Remember
13. The End of an Era
14. Challenging the Great One 
15 The Showdowns Continue 
16. The Underdog Arises
17. Good but Not Lucky
18. A Lost Season
19. Free Agency in 1924? 
20. The Temperamental Spitballist
21. Back Where I Belong
22. Clouds Approaching
23. The Season That Wasn’t
24. Hope Springs Eternal
25. The Comeback
26. Moment in the Sun
27. The Master at Work 
28. Promises and Secrets
29. A Star Surfaces and Crashes
30. A Day of Death and Rebirth


2018 SABR Baseball Research Award 

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