During the 1950s, the Detroit Lions were one of the most glamorous and successful teams in the National Football League, winning championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957, and regularly playing before packed houses at Briggs Stadium. In When Lions Were Kings: The Detroit Lions and the Fabulous Fifties, journalist and sports historian Richard Bak blends a deeply researched and richly written narrative with many rare color images from the decade, re-creating a time when the Motor City and its gridiron heroes were riding high in the saddle. Representing a city at its postwar peak of population and influence, coach Raymond Buddy Parker and such players as Les Bingaman, Bob Hunchy Hoernschemeyer, Yale Lary, Joe Schmidt, Jack Christiansen, Jim Doran, Lou Creekmur, and Leon Hart helped sell the game to a country discovering the joys of watching televised football on Sunday afternoons and Thanksgiving Day. Quarterback Bobby Layne and halfback Doak Walker were celebrity athletes during this golden age of pro football-a decade when the game first started to replace its slower-paced cousin, baseball, as the national pastime. While the quietly modest Walker was a darling of Madison Avenue advertisers, the swaggering Layne became the first NFL player ever to grace the cover of Time magazine. Along with detailed profiles of the players, coaches, and games that defined the Lions' only dynastic era, Bak explores such varied topics as the team's languid approach to desegregation, the wild popularity of bubble gum trading cards, and the staggering physical cost players of the period have suffered in retirement. When Lions Were Kings is a lively portrait of the golden age of professional football in Detroit that will delight younger fans and inform die-hard followers of one of the NFL's oldest franchises.
In Detroitland: A Collection of Movers, Shakers, Lost Souls, and History Makers from Detroit's Past prolific local historian and journalist Richard Bak has assembled many of his award-winning historical features, all originally written for such periodicals as Hour Detroit, Detroit Monthly, and Michigan History and now updated and expanded for this collection. In twenty-seven chapters that cover roughly a century of Detroit's rich and colorful history, Bak relives the scandals, mysteries, catastrophes, triumphs, and celebrations that have rocked Detroit. He also introduces readers to the heroes, criminals, stars, and regular people who lived through them, or in some cases, set them in motion. Detroitland contains the stories behind familiar names like Frank Murphy, the infamous Purple Gang, the Lone Ranger, Potato Patch Pingree, and Charles Lindbergh. Yet Bak also reveals lesser-known episodes in Detroit's history, like the ambitious International Exposition & Fair of 1889; the killer heat wave of 1936, with five straight days of hundred-degree temperatures; and the attempted around-the-world flight of Ed Schlee and Billy Brock in the Pride of Detroit in 1927. He introduces readers to little-known and unique Detroit characters, like the fierce Black Legion gang that was Detroit's own version of the Ku Klux Klan; Johnny Miler, the man who walloped Joe Louis in the Brown Bomber's first-ever amateur fight; patrolman Ben Turpin, the terror of Black Bottom criminals; Sophie Lyons, legendary Queen of the Underworld and Detroit philanthropist; and Shorty Long, Brenda Holloway, the Velvelettes, and other forgotten Motown artists of the '60s. Told in Bak's conversational and eminently readable style, the historical essays in Detroitland will prove hard to put down for anyone interested in Detroit's history or those looking for an informative and entertaining read.
From the earliest burial mounds to today's simple street shrines, Boneyards: Detroit Under Ground reveals how Metro Detroiters have interred their dead and honored their memory. Author Richard Bak investigates the history of dozens of local cemeteries and also explores the cultural and business side of dying, from old-fashioned home funerals to the grave-robbing resurrectionists of the nineteenth century to modern funeral directors. Bak presents a mix of historic and contemporary photographs to illustrate each site or event alongside lively prose descriptions. Taken together, Bak's informative and often surprising historical snapshots span the entire metro area and three centuries of history. Boneyards visits the area's largest cemeteries-including Elmwood, Woodmere, Mount Olivet, Mount Elliott-and showcases some of their most intricate and unusual monuments. Bak also introduces readers to abandoned graveyards like William Ganong Cemetery in Westland, Millar Cemetery in Clinton Township, and Beth Olem Cemetery inside the GM Poletown Plant. Bak includes photos of some of the city's largest funerals, from those of automaker Henry Ford and orchestra conductor Ossip Gabrilovitch to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and rapper DeShaun Proof Holton. In addition, Bak tells the stories of the ordinary and the unclaimed in local cemeteries, along with the social changes like the creation of a drive-through funeral home in the 1970s, the white flight of interred family members from Detroit cemeteries, and the trend of local cemeteries adding graves that face Mecca to accommodate the growing Muslim population. Ultimately, Bak proves that our treatment of the dead reveals much about our culture and our values. Boneyards will be intriguing reading for Detroit historians, local residents, and anyone interested in the customs of memorializing past generations.
The epic struggle between a father and son and the building of a worldwide business empire In this retelling of the story of the rise of Ford Motors, journalist Richard Bak offers a daring new perspective on the human drama that helped shape one of the world's great business empires. No dry corporate history, Henry and Edsel focuses on the epic battle of wills between the unyielding Henry Ford, his gifted son Edsel, and his second son, the brutal and insidious Harry Bennet who rose from barroom brawler to become Henry's heir apparent. Bak dispels the common misperception of Edsel Ford as a weak and ineffectual manager, and explains that it was in fact Edsel's level-headedness and imaginative business solutions and that allowed the company to survive the many challenges to its survival in the first half of the twentieth century. Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary celebration of Ford Motor Company, Henry and Edsel is sure to be warmly received by history buffs and business readers. Richard Bak (Detroit, MI) is a veteran journalist who has written widely on the Fords and the automobile industry.
Drawing on historical documents and riveting eyewitness reports of the Hunley exploits and illustrated with more than 120 photographs, this book uncovers the fascinating drama and pioneering impact surrounding the Confederate submarine.
The Day Lincoln Was Shot is the first illustrated account of the Lincoln assassination. Blending over 175 vintage photographs and illustrations with a lively narrative, author Richard Bak has created a spellbinding volume that graphically details, in words and pictures, one of the most heinous crimes in American history.
The New York Giants have sent more men to the Baseball Hall of Fame than any other team, a distinction that only begins to hint at the place this storied franchise holds in the long history of America,s national pastime. Between 1883 and 1957, a span of 75 summers, the Giants were one of professional sports, great dynasties. Aside from the17 National League pennants and 8 world pennants the team won during this period, there were the unique personalities and imperishable moments that remain so much a part of the lore of the game: John McGraw,s pugnacity, Christy Mathewson,s fadeaway, Fred Snodgrass,s muff, Mel Ott,s leg kick, CarlHubbell,s scroogie, Bobby Thomson,s home run, and Willie Mays, catch. Even the Giants, ballpark, the Polo Grounds, had a personality of its own, with a center field that seemed as expansive as Utah and abbreviated foul lines that turned many an ordinary fly ball into a mighty home run.
Between 1920 and 1964, the Bronx Bombers dominated thegame of baseball. It was a time when baseball players enjoyed an elevated status as national icons, a time when men wearing baggy, flannel uniforms and sporting pancake gloves played for little more than ,the love of the game., In this striking and nostalgic volume featuring many rarely seen photographs, we meet the heroes that were the New York Yankees. The Yankees won 29 American League pennants and 20 World Series during this golden era, their diamond exploits thrilling generations of fans and their statistical achievements becoming familiar numbers in the lore of the game: Babe Ruth,s 714 home runs; Lou Gehrig,s 2,130 consecutive games played; Joe DiMaggio,s 56-game hitting streak; Casey Stengel,s 5 straight world championships; Mickey Mantle,s 565-foot home run; and Roger Maris,s 61 round-trippers. The tradition of excellence began in the 1920s with the Murderers, Row teams, named for their ,killer, batting lineups, and continued through the early 1960s, by which time the Bronx Bombers had established themselves as the most successful franchise in sports history.
In this new addition to the Images of America series,Richard Bak takes us on a visual journey through Detroit,s golden era, encompassing the first three decades of the twentieth century. It was during this time that the City of Detroit experienced its most rapid physical growth and underwent an unprecedented pace of social and technological change. Detroit: 1900,1930 contains nearly 190 illustrations, including studio portraits, snapshots, postcards, songsheet covers, and period advertisements. Collectively, these images evoke a past that is often too easily forgotten as older Detroiters pass away. As you thumb through the pages of this book, you will encounter such influential people as Henry Ford and other automotive pioneers who helped to ,put the world on wheels., Experience daily life as it was lived at the time of the First World War, and discover the major role Detroit played in this historic conflict. This volume highlights the wave ofimmigration that occurred here at the turn of the century, when roughly half of the city,s population hailed from other countries. Also featured are various scenes from the ,Roaring Twenties,, the ill-fated experiment in Prohibition, and the effect of the Great Depression on the city,s economy.
Postcard photographers traveled the length and breadth of the nation snapping photographs of busy street scenes, documenting local landmarks, and assembling crowds of neighborhood children only too happy to pose for a picture. These images, printed as postcards and sold in general stores across the country, survive as telling reminders of an important era in America,s history.
This trade paper edition of The Detroit Red Wings has been updated through the 1998 season Stanley Cup victory (an additional 16-page signature has been added). In addition, all of the statistical information has been updated.
When Joe Louis (1914-1981) knocked out the German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938 in two minutes and four seconds, the entire nation,black and white,celebrated the fight of the century as a victory of the United States against the ominous tide of Nazism. Never had an African-American received such universal praise across racial lines. Heavyweight champion for a record twelve years from 1937 to 1949, Louis opened the doors for such future black athletes as Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali. Joe Louis depicts the prizefighter's life, and the times in which he lived, from his childhood in a sharecropper's cabin in Alabama and his formative years in Detroit, to his legendary career, his service in the Army, his stint as a professional wrestler after retiring from boxing in 1951, and his professional demise as an official greeter for a Las Vegas casino. Along the way, Richard Bak compassionately, yet evenhandedly, details Louis's private vices: incessant womanizing, reckless spending habits, massive debts to the IRS, and drug abuse. Filled with over one hundred photographs, including twenty-two in colour, Joe Louis is the most comprehensive portrait yet written of one of the greatest African-American heroes who used his fists figuratively,and literally,to fight racism.
On April 28, 1896, baseball fans traveled in horse-drawn buggies to watch the Detroit Tigers play their first baseball game at the site on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues. Starting out as Bennett Park, a wooden facility with trees growing in the outfield, Tiger Stadium has played a central role in the lives of millions of Detroiters and their families for more than a century. During the last century, millions of fans have come to Michigan and Trumbull to watch the Tigers' 7,800 home games, as well as to attend numerous other sporting, social, and civic events, including high school, collegiate, and professional football games, prep and Negro league baseball contests, political rallies, concerts, and boxing and soccer matches. A companion to the narrative history, almost two hundred rare photographs capture the spirit of 140 years of baseball in Detroit. A Place for Summer furnishes a sense of the relationship between the community, its teams, and the various fields, parks, and stadiums that have served as common ground for generations of Detroiters.