Tofel, Richard J. 1957-
TOFEL, Richard J. 1957-
PERSONAL: Born February 17, 1957, in New York, NY; son of Robert L. (an attorney) and Carol (in education administration; maiden name, Collins) Tofel; married Jeanne Straus (a newspaper executive), 1983; children: Rachel, Colin. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Harvard College, A.B., 1979, Harvard Law School, J.D., 1983, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, M.P.P., 1983. Politics: Democrat.
CAREER: Attorney and publishing executive. Dow Jones & Company/Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, assistant general counsel, 1989-92, assistant managing editor of Wall Street Journal, 1992-95, director of international development of Wall Street Journal, 1995-97, vice president of corporate communications of Dow Jones & Company, 1997-2000, assistant to the publisher of Wall Street Journal, 2000-02, assistant publisher of Wall Street Journal, 2002—.
A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book on New York City politics, circa 1930.
SIDELIGHTS: A long-time employee with Dow Jones & Company/Wall Street Journal, lawyer Richard J. Tofel worked his way from assistant legal counsel to assistant publisher, along the way acting as assistant managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and vice president of corporate communications. As a result of his work and interests in baseball, history, and writing, he decided to pen a book of his own. As he explained to CA, "I'd been reviewing books on baseball for the Wall Street Journal for some years, and had long wanted to write a book. I was inspired by Burt Solomon's Where They Ain't on the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s and then by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein's Baseball Dynasties, which concludes that the 1939 Yankees were the greatest team of all time—and notes that no one had ever written a book about them."
In his spare time, Tofel researched and wrote A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939, a look at a crucial year in that franchise's history. While in 1939, the Yankees won a fourth consecutive world championship, becoming eight-time winners in total, they also saw Lou Gerhrig begin to suffer from the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Focusing both on player personalities, among them Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, and accomplishments on the field, Tofel recounts the season's events in chronological order. Ever the historian, Tofel puts Yankee history in the larger context of baseball history, and baseball history in the larger context of American and world history. When this "sweet, heavily anecdotal account," to quote Library Journal's Paul Kaplan and Robert C. Cottrell, rolled off presses in 2002, it elicited praise from reviewers. While a Publishers Weekly contributor praised Tofel's "splendid job of capturing the different personalities" of players, Booklist's GraceAnne A. DeCandido called it a "fine gift for fans."
Tofel continued to CA, "I continue to be fascinated by history. My next book . . . is likely to be about politics and corruption in New York City of the late 1920s and early 1930s. This period continues to intrigue me, as it is recent enough to have research materials readily accessible, but sufficiently long ago that even the longestlived subjects are just past interviewing; since I'm doing my book-work off hours, interviews aren't practical for me. I need to make the subject come alive from contemporary sources, and I think I'm able to do that."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees in 1939, p. 793.
Library Journal, February 1, 2002, Paul Kaplan and Robert C. Cottrell, review of A Legend in the Making, p. 104.
New York Times Book Review, March 31, 2002, Buster Olney, "Pride of the Yankees: As the 1939 Team Was Playing the Best Baseball Ever (Maybe), Lou Gehrig Was Dying," p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, February 11, 2002, review of A Legend in the Making, p. 174.
Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2002, Erich Eichman, "Gehrig, DiMaggio, and a Season to Remember," p. A16.