Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City is a book by Jonathan Mahler that focuses on the year 1977 in New York City. First published in 2005, it's described as 'a layered account', 'kaleidoscopic', 'a braided narrative', which weaves political, cultural, and sporting threads into one narrative. It was also the basis for the ESPN mini-series The Bronx Is Burning.
|Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City|
|Set in||New York City|
Part of the phrase surfaced in television media in 1972 as the title of an episode from the Man Alive documentary series co-produced by BBC Television and Time-Life Films. Entitled The Bronx Is Burning, the hour-long episode shadowed Engine Company 82 and Ladder Company 31 as they operated throughout the Bronx, chronicling the impact of austerity upon fire safety services in the borough.
It was five years later in this same borough that Game 2 of the 1977 World Series was played on October 12 at Yankee Stadium. ABC cameras covering the game cut to a helicopter shot of the surrounding neighborhood where a large fire was shown raging out of control in Public School 3, a building occupying the block bordered by Melrose and Courtlandt Avenues and 157th and 158th Streets. The following exchange occurred between ABC announcers Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell:
Jackson: "That is a live picture, obviously a major fire in a large building in the south Bronx region of New York City. That's a live picture, and obviously the fire department in the Bronx have there, a problem. My goodness, that's a huge blaze."
Cosell: "That's the very area where President Carter trod just a few days ago."
About nine minutes later, viewers were again being shown the scene of the fire from the helicopter's camera:
Cosell: "That's a live shot again, of that fire in the south Bronx that Keith called to your attention just a few moments ago. Wonder how many alarms are involved? But as Keith said, the fire department really has its work cut out for it."
Altogether the two men spoke about the fire on five separate occasions. Television viewers were repeatedly assured that no one had been hurt, but were told mistakenly that the site was a vacant apartment building. According to the New York Post, the words used by the two broadcasters during the game were later "spun by credulous journalists" into the now ubiquitous phrase "Ladies and gentleman, the Bronx is burning" without either of the two announcers actually having phrased it that way.
The book begins by telling of the fiscal and spiritual crisis, as Jonathan Mahler calls it, of the city in the mid 1970s. In political cartoons New York had become a sinking ship, a zoo where the apes were employed as zookeepers, a naughty puppy swatted by a rolled-up newspaper. New York's finances were in need of attention. Less than halfway through Abraham Beame's term as mayor the city was "careering toward bankruptcy." And perhaps there were signs that the 'cultural axis' had tilted. In 1972, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson had moved from Midtown Manhattan to Burbank, California—the cultural equivalent of the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles—and Carson would stick the boot in by sprinkling his monologues with reminders of the city's decline. "Some Martians landed in Central Park today ... and were mugged."
The baseball thread of Mahler's book focuses on the New York Yankees. In the 1976 World Series, the Yankees had been beaten by the Cincinnati Reds, but had won their first pennant since 1964, and the fans were cheering Billy Martin—back in New York after 18 years. At 47, "he had the look of a rather shopworn Mississippi riverboat gambler." Martin's cockiness, scrappiness, and hunger to win met with a positive response in the South Bronx. On November 29, 1976, Reggie Jackson joined the Yankees. Mahler compares Jackson not to Joe DiMaggio but to another Joe—Joe Namath: "Both were mini-skirt chasing bachelors, and had confidence to bring the city victory." All winter the papers filled with speculation about how Jackson and Thurman Munson, the Yankees catcher and captain, were going to get along. Those who knew him described Munson as moody; his friend Sparky Lyle didn't agree: "When you're moody, you're nice sometimes." Mahler looks at the new Yankee dynasty that was forming in '77: Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, Reggie ... and those close to Martin—Catfish Hunter, Lou Piniella, Graig Nettles. Fran Healy, the backup catcher, was Jackson's only friend on the team. Mahler looks at certain key games:
The cultural thread of Mahler's book focuses particularly on the impact of Rupert Murdoch. News of Murdoch's purchase of the New York Post broke on 20 November 1976. In 1973, he'd gathered up the San Antonio News and launched the National Star as a "supermarket tabloid"; now the ailing Post was in his grip, and his eyes also turned to Clay Felker's New York. Murdoch was an active presence in the newsroom according to Mahler's account, peering over reporters' shoulders and punching up the paper's headlines and copy. In March 1977 alone, The Post ran 21 items on Farrah Fawcett-Majors, a star of Charlie's Angels; stories became shorter, pictures bigger, headlines louder.
Within the cultural thread, Mahler writes of the music of the time. "Now is the summer of our discothèques" the journalist Anthony Haden-Guest had written in New York magazine. Studio 54 the discothèque that defined an era of nightlife had opened in April 1977. Paramount Pictures had just begun shooting Saturday Night Fever; by the end of the summer, disco would be America's second largest grossing entertainment business after professional sports. If discos like Studio 54 provided an escape from the ugliness, its punk analog, a dive on The Bowery called CBGB, embraced it, featuring acts such as Television, Blondie, Patti Smith, and the Ramones. "Broken youth stumbling into the home of broken age," wrote Frank Rose in the Village Voice.
In the midst of the various threads, Mahler writes of the Son of Sam murders and of the New York City blackout of 1977, which took place on July 13–14, 1977. As a serial killer preyed on an alarmingly increasing number of victims while eluding a visibly shaken and financially strapped police force, a blanket of hot muggy weather descended on the city. Demand for electricity peaked in the middle of the afternoon when air conditioners were rumbling all over the city. That night, a major blackout— "a total urban eclipse"—struck, and all five boroughs of New York City and most of Westchester County were suddenly without power for several hours. The mass looting that ensued remains the only civil disturbance in the history of NYC to encompass all five boroughs simultaneously, and the 3776 arrests were the largest mass arrest in the city's history.
Mahler recounts the 1977 mayoral race, and the battle between three diverse candidates:
Koch took office on the first day of 1978.
The 1977 New York Yankees season was the 75th season for the Yankees in New York and the 77th season overall for the franchise. The team won the World Series, which was the 21st championship in franchise history and the first championship under the ownership of George Steinbrenner. The season was brought to life years later in the book, turned drama-documentary, The Bronx is Burning.1977 World Series
The 1977 World Series was the 74th edition of Major League Baseball's (MLB) championship series. The best-of-seven playoff was contested between the New York Yankees, champions of the American League (AL) and defending American League champions, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, champions of the National League (NL). The Yankees defeated the Dodgers, four games to two, to win the franchise's 21st World Series championship, their first since 1962, and the first under the ownership of George Steinbrenner. The Series was played between October 11 and 18, broadcast on ABC.
During this Series, Reggie Jackson earned his nickname "Mr. October" for his heroics. Billy Martin won what would be his only World Series title as a manager after guiding the Yankees to a second straight pennant.Bella Abzug
Bella Savitzky Abzug (July 24, 1920 – March 31, 1998), nicknamed "Battling Bella", was an American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist and a leader of the Women's Movement. In 1971, Abzug joined other leading feminists such as Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan to found the National Women's Political Caucus.In 1970, Abzug's first campaign slogan was, "This woman's place is in the House—the House of Representatives." She was later appointed to co-chair the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year created by President Gerald Ford's executive order, presided over the 1977 National Women's Conference, and led President Jimmy Carter's National Advisory Commission for Women.Bushwick, Brooklyn
Bushwick is a working-class neighborhood in the northern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by the neighborhood of Ridgewood, Queens, to the northeast; Williamsburg to the northwest; East New York and the cemeteries of Highland Park to the southeast; Brownsville to the south; and Bedford-Stuyvesant to the southwest.The town was first founded by Europeans during the Dutch colonization of the Americas in the 17th century. In the 19th century, the neighborhood became a community of Germanic immigrants and their descendants; by the late 20th century, it became predominantly Hispanic as another wave of immigrants arrived. Formerly Brooklyn's 18th Ward, the neighborhood was once an independent town and has undergone various territorial changes throughout its history.
Bushwick is part of Brooklyn Community District 4 and its primary ZIP Codes are 11206, 11207, 11221, and 11237. It is patrolled by the 83rd Precinct of the New York City Police Department. Politically it is represented by the New York City Council's 34th and 37th Districts.David Berkowitz
David Richard Berkowitz (born Richard David Falco, June 1, 1953), known also as the Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, is an American serial killer who pleaded guilty to eight separate shooting attacks that began in New York City during the summer of 1976. Using a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver, he killed six people and wounded seven others by July 1977. As the number of victims increased, Berkowitz eluded the biggest police manhunt in the history of New York City while leaving letters that mocked the police and promised further crimes, which were highly publicized by the press. The killing spree terrorized New Yorkers and achieved worldwide notoriety.
On the night of August 10, 1977, Berkowitz was taken into custody by New York City police homicide detectives in front of his Yonkers apartment building, and he was subsequently indicted for eight shooting incidents. He confessed to all of them, and initially claimed to have been obeying the orders of a demon manifested in the form of a dog named "Harvey" which belonged to his neighbor "Sam". Despite his explanation, Berkowitz was found mentally competent to stand trial. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was incarcerated in state prison. He subsequently admitted that the dog-and-devil story was a hoax. In the course of further police investigations, Berkowitz was also implicated in many unsolved arsons in the city.
Intense coverage of the case by the media lent a kind of celebrity status to Berkowitz, and some observers noted that he seemed to enjoy it. In response, the New York State legislature enacted new legal statutes known popularly as "Son of Sam laws", designed to keep criminals from profiting financially from the publicity created by their crimes. The statutes have remained law in New York in spite of various legal challenges, and similar laws have been enacted in several other states.
Berkowitz has been incarcerated since his arrest and is serving six consecutive life sentences. During the mid-1990s, he amended his confession to claim that he had been a member of a violent Satanic cult that orchestrated the incidents as ritual murder. A few law enforcement authorities have said that his claims might be credible, but he remains the only person ever charged with the shootings. A new investigation of the murders began in 1996 but was suspended indefinitely after inconclusive findings.Harmonica Incident
The Harmonica Incident took place on a New York Yankees team bus on August 20, 1964, en route to O'Hare International Airport. Infielder Phil Linz, slightly resentful at not being played during a four-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox that was believed at the time to have seriously set back the Yankees' chances at that year's American League pennant, began playing a harmonica in the back of the bus. Manager Yogi Berra, feeling that Linz's behavior was inappropriate given the team's recent poor performance, angrily called on him to stop, whereupon Linz threw the harmonica and loudly complained about being singled out despite not having been at fault for the losses.Journalists on the bus following the team reported the incident in the next day's newspapers, and it became national news. Although Linz was fined for the incident, he received an endorsement contract from harmonica manufacturer Hohner after the company saw an increase in sales. The contract more than made up for Linz's lost money from the fine. Radio stations in Boston urged fans of the Red Sox, whom the Yankees played immediately afterward, to greet Linz at the plate in Fenway Park with a harmonica and kazoo serenade. At an exhibition game against the crosstown New York Mets, Mets players tossed harmonicas onto the field.
The incident had divergent effects on the team. For the players, it ended well: Berra's authority as their manager was decisively established and they went 30–11 through the end of the season, clinching the pennant that had seemed out of reach. For the team's management, which had been dogged all season by reports that Berra could not control his former teammates, it confirmed that impression, and efforts to find a replacement for Berra (that had reportedly already been underway) succeeded shortly afterwards, with Johnny Keane, who was considered likely to be fired from his position as St. Louis Cardinals' manager after the season concluded, secretly agreeing to become the Yankees' manager. His team also came back from deep in the standings to win the National League pennant, and then defeat the Yankees in that year's World Series. The day afterwards, Berra was fired and Keane shocked his superiors by resigning instead of accepting a contract extension. Keane took over for Berra a few days later.
Despite its role in catalyzing the team that season, the incident has been seen as the beginning of the end of the Yankees' 15-year postwar dynasty, since it also coincided with the announcement that the CBS television network was buying the team. Keane was never able to fully earn the respect of either the aging, injury-plagued stars or the few promising younger players, and in the 1965 season the team failed to win the pennant after recording its first losing season in 40 years. When the subsequent season started with even worse results, Keane was fired, though that did not prevent the Yankees from finishing in last place. They would not return to the World Series until 1976, after CBS had sold the team to George Steinbrenner.Howard Cosell
Howard William Cosell (; born Howard William Cohen; March 25, 1918 – April 23, 1995) was an American sports journalist and author, who was prominent and influential on radio, television and print media from the early 1960s into the mid 1980s. He was also an actor who played minor roles in several TV programs and movies. Cosell was widely known for his blustery, confident personality. Cosell said of himself, "Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. There's no question that I'm all of those things." In its obituary for Cosell, The New York Times described Cosell's effect on American sports coverage: "He entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style was unabashed adulation, [and] offered a brassy counterpoint that was first ridiculed, then copied until it became the dominant note of sports broadcasting."In 1993, TV Guide named Howard Cosell The All-Time Best Sportscaster in its issue celebrating 40 years of television.In 1996, Howard Cosell was ranked #47 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.Major League Baseball on ABC
Major League Baseball on ABC is the de facto title of a program that televises Major League Baseball games on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The program has appeared in various forms c. 1953-1965 (ABC Game of the Week), 1976–1989 (Monday Night Baseball, Thursday Night Baseball, and Sunday Afternoon Baseball), and 1994–1995 (Baseball Night in America). ABC has not televised Major League Baseball since Game 5 of the 1995 World Series (October 26).Mario Cuomo
Mario Matthew Cuomo (; Italian: [ˈkwɔːmo]; June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015) was an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1979 to 1982, and Secretary of State of New York from 1975 to 1978.Cuomo was known for his liberal views and public speeches, particularly his keynote speech address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in which he sharply criticized the policies of the Reagan administration, saying, "Mr. President, you ought to know that this nation is more a 'Tale of Two Cities' than it is just a 'Shining City on a Hill.'" The speech brought him to national attention, and he was widely considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President in both 1988 and 1992, though he declined to seek the nomination in both instances. His legacy as a reluctant standard-bearer for the Democrats in presidential elections led to his being dubbed "Hamlet on the Hudson".Cuomo was defeated for a fourth term as governor by George Pataki in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. He subsequently retired from politics and served as counsel at the New York City law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He was the father of five, including Andrew Cuomo, the current Governor of New York, and journalist Chris Cuomo, currently an anchorman for CNN.Michael R. Long
Michael R. Long (born 1 February 1940) is a former chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State. Long served in that capacity from December 1988 to January 2019. Previously, Long represented the Borough of Brooklyn at-large on the New York City Council from 1981 to 1983.New York City blackout of 1977
The New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. The only neighborhoods in the city that were not affected were in southern Queens (including neighborhoods of the Rockaways, which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system), as well as the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn which operated its own historic power generator.
Unlike other blackouts that affected the region, namely the Northeast blackouts of 1965 and 2003, the 1977 blackout was confined to New York City and its immediate surrounding areas. Also, in contrast to the 1965 and 2003 blackouts, the 1977 blackout resulted in citywide looting and other acts of criminal activity, including arson.New York City mayoral elections
The Mayor of the City of New York is elected in early November every four years and takes office at the beginning of the following year. The city, which elects the mayor as its chief executive, consists of the five boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island), which consolidated to form "Greater" New York on January 1, 1898.
The consolidated city's first mayor, Robert A. Van Wyck, was elected with other municipal officers in November 1897. Mayoral elections had previously been held since 1834 by the City of Brooklyn and the smaller, unconsolidated City of New York (Manhattan, later expanded into the Bronx).
The current mayor, now in his second term, is Bill de Blasio. He won re-election on November 7, 2017.Old-Timers' Day
Old-Timers' Day (or Old-Timers' Game) generally refers to a tradition in Major League Baseball whereby a team, most prominently the New York Yankees, devotes the early afternoon preceding a weekend game to celebrate the baseball-related accomplishments of its former players who have since retired. The pattern has been copied intermittently by other sports but has failed to catch on.Sandy Jimenez
Sandy Jimenez (born March 8, 1968) is an American comic book artist, writer and director, most commonly associated with the New York city independent comic book scene of the 1990s, with work appearing in magazines such as Inner City Press and World War 3 Illustrated.South Bronx
The South Bronx is an area of the New York City borough of the Bronx. As the name implies, the area comprises neighborhoods in the southern part of the Bronx, such as Concourse, Mott Haven, Melrose, and Port Morris. The South Bronx is known for its hip hop culture and graffiti.The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, in the U.S. state of New York. It is south of Westchester County; northeast and east of Manhattan, across the Harlem River; and north of Queens, across the East River. Since 1914, the borough has had the same boundaries as Bronx County, the third-most densely populated county in the United States.The Bronx has a land area of 42 square miles (109 km2) and a population of 1,471,160 in 2017. Of the five boroughs, it has the fourth-largest area, fourth-highest population, and third-highest population density. It is the only borough predominantly on the U.S. mainland.
The Bronx is divided by the Bronx River into a hillier section in the west, and a flatter eastern section. East and west street names are divided by Jerome Avenue. The West Bronx was annexed to New York City in 1874, and the areas east of the Bronx River in 1895. Bronx County was separated from New York County in 1914. About a quarter of the Bronx's area is open space, including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo in the borough's north and center. These open spaces are situated primarily on land deliberately reserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed north and east from Manhattan.
The name Bronx originated with Swedish-born Jonas Bronck, who established the first settlement in the area as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639. The native Lenape were displaced after 1643 by settlers. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bronx received many immigrant and migrant groups as it was transformed into an urban community, first from various European countries (particularly Ireland, Germany, and Italy) and later from the Caribbean region (particularly Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic), as well as African American migrants from the southern United States. This cultural mix has made The Bronx a wellspring of Latin music, hip hop and rock.
The Bronx contains the poorest congressional district in the United States, the 15th, but its wide diversity also includes affluent, upper-income, and middle-income neighborhoods such as Riverdale, Fieldston, Spuyten Duyvil, Schuylerville, Pelham Bay, Pelham Gardens, Morris Park, and Country Club. The Bronx, particularly the South Bronx, saw a sharp decline in population, livable housing, and quality of life in the late 1960s and the 1970s, culminating in a wave of arson. Since then the communities have shown significant redevelopment starting in the late 1980s before picking up pace from the 1990s until today.The Bronx Is Burning
The Bronx Is Burning (stylized as The Bronx is Burning) is a television drama that debuted on ESPN on July 10, 2007, after the 2007 MLB Home Run Derby. It is an eight-episode mini-series adapted from Jonathan Mahler's best-selling book, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning. The book focuses on baseball's triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of 1977 New York City and how the New York Yankees came to embody the hopes and fears of an unforgettable summer with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson's warfare under George Steinbrenner's leadership.
The show stars Daniel Sunjata, Oliver Platt, and John Turturro, while executive producers Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, writer and executive producer James Solomon, and director Jeremiah Chechik work on the show. The series is produced by ESPN Original Entertainment in conjunction with Tollin/Robbins Productions. Filming began on September 18, 2006, in Connecticut and New York. The 2007 debut of the series marked the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Series win for the Yankees, the first under Steinbrenner. After airing on ESPN, the episodes were placed on ABC on Demand.The Bronx Zoo (book)
The Bronx Zoo: The Astonishing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees is a nonfiction book written by former Major League Baseball pitcher Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock. A memoir of Lyle's tenure with the New York Yankees, the book documents the 1978 New York Yankees season, including the 1978 World Series and conflicts between players. The book was published by Crown Publishers in 1979.
The term "Bronx Zoo" became a nickname for the Yankees teams of the late 1970s through early 1980s.Timeline of New York City
This article is a timeline of the history of New York City in the state of New York, US.
|Division titles (17)|
|Wild Card titles (7)|
Book:New York Yankees Category:New York Yankees Portal:New York Yankees
|Hall of Fame|
|Division titles (17)|
|Wild card berths (2)|
|Minor league affiliates|
|AL Championship Series|
|NL Championship Series|
|AL Division Series|
|NL Division Series|
|AL Championship Series|
|NL Championship Series|
|AL Division Series|
|NL Division Series|