Frommer, Harvey 1937-
FROMMER, Harvey 1937-
PERSONAL: Born October 10, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Max and Fannie (Wechsler) Frommer; married Myrna Katz (a writer, teacher, and freelance editor), January 23, 1960; children: Jennifer, Frederic, Jan. Education: New York University, B.S., 1957, M.A., 1961, Ph.D., 1974. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.
CAREER: Professor, writer. United Press International (UPI), Chicago, IL, sportswriter, 1957-58; New York public schools, New York, NY, high school English teacher, 1960-70; City University of New York, New York City Technical College, professor of writing and speech, 1970—. Adjunct professor of journalism, Adelphi University, 1982-84; adjunct professor of history, New York University, 1984; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, professor of liberal studies. Has appeared on television and radio talk shows as a sports nostalgia and trivia expert. Historical consultant to Broadway play The First, 1983. Guest curator and executive producer of "Stars of David: Jews in Sports" exhibit at B'nai B'rith Klutznik Museum, Washington, DC, 1991. Military service: U.S. Army, 1958-59.
MEMBER: Association of American University Professors.
AWARDS, HONORS: City University of New York, Salute to Scholars Award, 1984; United States Olympic Committee, Olympic Book of the Year, 1984, for Olympic Controversies; Autobiography of the Year nomination, Spitball (magazine), 1988, for Throwing Heat: The Autobiography of Nolan Ryan.
A Baseball Century: The First 100 Years of theNational League, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1976.
(With Ron Weinmann) A Sailing Primer, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.
The Martial Arts: Judo and Karate, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.
Sports Lingo: A Dictionary of the Language of Sports, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1979.
Sports Roots: How Nicknames, Namesakes, Trophies,Competitions, and Expressions in the World of Sports Came to Be, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1979.
The Great American Soccer Book, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1980.
New York City Baseball: The Last Golden Age, 1947-1957, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1980, with new preface by the author and new foreword by Monte Irvin, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2004.
The Sports Dates Book, Ace (New York, NY), 1981.
Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball'sColor Barrier, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1982, Taylor (New York, NY), 2003.
Baseball's Greatest Rivalry: The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.
Baseball's Greatest Records: Streaks, and Feats, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1983.
Jackie Robinson, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1984.
Baseball's Hall of Fame, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1985.
Baseball's Greatest Managers, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1985.
City Tech: The First Forty Years, Technical College Press (Brooklyn, NY), 1986.
Olympic Controversies, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1987.
(With Red Holzman) Red on Red, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Primitive Baseball: The First Quarter-Century of theNational Pastime, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Nolan Ryan) Throwing Heat: The Autobiography of Nolan Ryan, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.
A Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Album of Baseball, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1988.
Growing Up at Bat: Fifty Years of Little LeagueBaseball, Pharos Books (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Tony Dorsett) Running Tough: Memoirs of aFootball Maverick, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Don Strock) Behind the Lines: A VeteranQuarterback's Look inside the NFL, introduction by Dan Mariano, Pharos Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Red Holzman) Holzman on Hoops: The ManWho Led the Knicks through Two World Championships Tells It Like It Was, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1991.
Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1992.
Big Apple Baseball: An Illustrated History from theBoroughs to the Ballparks, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1995.
The New York Yankee Encyclopedia, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1997.
(Compiler, with son, Frederick J. Frommer) GrowingUp Baseball: An Oral History, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 2001.
A Yankee Century: A Celebration of the First HundredYears of Baseball's Greatest Team, introduction by Paul O'Neill, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2002.
WITH WIFE, MYRNA KATZ FROMMER:
(With Nancy Lieberman-Cline) Basketball My Way, Scribner (New York, NY), 1982.
Sports Genes, Ace (New York, NY), 1982.
(Editor) The Games of the Twenty-third Olympiad: LosAngeles 1984 Commemorative Book, International Sport Publications, 1984.
(Compiler) It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others Who Lived It, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1991.
(Compiler) It Happened in Brooklyn, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1993.
(Compiler)Growing Up Jewish in America: An OralHistory, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1995.
(Compiler) It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1998, with new preface, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2004.
(Compiler) It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City during the Mid-Twentieth Century, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor of articles and reviews to professional journals and periodicals, including New York Times, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Yankees (magazine), Library Journal,Golf Digest, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Queens (magazine), Newsday and United Features.
SIDELIGHTS: In 1974, Harvey Frommer wrote his doctoral dissertation on the influence of sports on television and of television on sports. His efforts to have the work published resulted in the opportunity to write A Baseball Century: The First 100 Years of the National League. He continued writing about sports throughout his academic career, turning out dozens of volumes of sports history, biography, and facts. He writes about several sports, but baseball is Frommer's specialty, understandable given that he was born in Brooklyn and spent most of his life in New York.
Frommer is editor of The New York Yankee Encyclopedia, which is a history of the team from its beginnings in 1903 through the 1996 World Series championship. Growing Up Baseball: An Oral History, which Frommer wrote with his son, draws on interviews with famous and not-so-famous ballplayers who share their memories of striving for the big leagues. They talk of playing with their fathers and friends, in inner-city neighborhoods and on rural farms, and of Little League games where their mothers sat in the bleachers cheering them on. Tidbits include the fact that Dom DiMaggio learned his fielding skills playing catch with his brother, Joe, in hilly San Francisco. Frommer includes an interview with Elden Auker, who at age ninety-one, was the oldest living player. A Yankee Century: A Celebration of the First Hundred Years of Baseball's Greatest Team, called a "gem" by Booklist's GraceAnne A. DeCandido, takes Yankee history into the twenty-first century.
Black Issues Book Review contributor Art Rust, Jr. reviewed the reprinted Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball's Color Barrier twenty years after its original publication. It is the story of how Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, chose Jackie Robinson to be the first black major league player, easier to accomplish after the death of baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who had been firm in keeping it an all-white sport. Rickey first gained the support of club owners, then selected the talented Robinson, whom he instructed on how he could and could not respond to the slurs and obstacles that were sure to come. Another hurdle was gaining acceptance of Robinson by his teammates and of the idea within the black community. The barrier was broken in 1945. Landis had died the previous year. Rust wrote, "I've read more than a dozen books on the Rickey/Robinson tandem, and I must say that Frommer's is the best structured. He brings Robinson's persona alive, proving why he was the first black man selected to break the racial barrier."
Frommer and his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer, team teach oral history courses at Dartmouth College. They have created a number of books together, including several oral histories, such as their second, It Happened in Brooklyn. The 100 contributors range from celebrities like Jerry Stiller and Marvin Kaplan to ordinary people who relive three decades, from World War II to Vietnam, including their recollections of growing up in the multiethnic community and enjoying the experiences it had to offer, like trips to Coney Island.
The Frommers next compiled the essays for Growing Up Jewish in America: An Oral History and It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way, which opens with a contribution from Carol Channing. Booklist's Jack Helbig wrote, "There are plenty of diamonds in this loosely ordered heap of interviews." For this volume, the Frommers talked with actors, producers, directors, playwrights, composers, lyricists, stage managers, set designers, critics, and the children of now-gone Broadway greats. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "never-boring stories the Frommers have gathered demonstrate what it took to fill those seats." Nation reviewer Rachel Shteir remarked that the Frommers "cast the discussion of Broadway in the fabulous past. Broadway is over but let's celebrate it, they seem to be saying."
It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City during the Mid-Twentieth Century recalls the people, places, food, music, and cultural icons of the period, as well as memories of days past in Harlem and Greenwich Village, changing cultures, landmarks now gone (the famous Automats), and those that have survived and been restored. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the volume a "self-congratulatory oral history, garrulous nostalgia, and great fun for those who recall the days of Tin Pan Alley and three baseball teams in one small, favored place."
Kendal Dodge Butler reviewed It Happened in Manhattan for CultureVulture.net, calling it "an irresistible collection of interviews with Manhattanites rich and poor, talented and ordinary, famous and unknown, clearly united in their unanimous conviction that Manhattan was, is, and always will be the most exciting place on earth."
Frommer told CA: "Sports and work and writing fascinate me; gardening acts as a release. I am involved all the time with one of these or another. I have written almost thirty books on sports and look forward to doing many more. I also have hopes of expanding my writing into other fields—gardening, travel, and institutional history. In 1986 City Tech: The First Forty Years was published. I spent three years on the project—the story of New York City Technical College of the City University of New York, an educational, cultural history.
"I enjoy my dual careers—as professor of writing and speech and as sports author and lecturer. My family functions as support and critic. My wife, Myrna, is at times my coauthor and always my editor. My daughter and two sons are involved in the world of sports, and we have been able to share anecdotes and good times playing and viewing games—especially baseball. I still find myself anchored in my own childhood world of games and fanhood. Perhaps that is what inspired New York City Baseball and Rickey and Robinson—both books deal with the golden heroes of my growing up years, when the world we all knew was very different.
"I received the 'Salute to Scholars Award' from the Chancellor of the City University of New York in 1984 and was invited by the government of Mexico in 1983 to tour that nation and write about its sports. Together with Myrna, I have expanded my publications to include travel writing. We have been guests of the governments of England (1986), Jamaica (1987), Finland (1987), Scotland (1988), Greece (1988), Barbados (1990), Dominican Republic (1990), Curacao (1990-91), and Spain (1993-95), invited to research and write about those nations' histories and cultures.
"It was my Contemporary Authors listing that was of critical help in my being selected in a national search of 500 sports authors to be the editor and major author of the Official Olympic Book in 1984. So far, that has been the crown jewel of my career. I take great satisfaction when I realize how far a poor kid from a seedy neighborhood in Brooklyn came in the United States of America. I dream now of other journeys, other accomplishments, other big and significant books for the future—in sports, in oral cultural history, in other areas."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Antioch Review, summer, 1996, Melinda Kanner, review of It Happened in Brooklyn, p. 372.
Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2003, Art Rust, Jr., review of Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball's Color Barrier, p. 64.
Booklist, October 15, 1998, Jack Helbig, review of ItHappened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way, p. 385; October 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Yankee Century: A Celebration of the First Hundred Years of Baseball's Greatest Team, p. 295.
Boston Herald, November 6, 1998, Terry Byrne, review of It Happened on Broadway, p. 5.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of It Happened in Manhattan: An Oral History of Life in the City during the Mid-Twentieth Century, p. 1187.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, J. Sara Paulk, review of It Happened on Broadway, p. 83.
Nation, March 1, 1999, Rachel Shteir, review of ItHappened on Broadway, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1998, review of It Happened on Broadway, p. 54.
CultureVulture.net,http://culturevulture.net/ (May 1, 2004), Kendal Dodge Butler, review of It Happened in Manhattan.*