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Book recalls Yankees' lost decade of 1980s

Greg Prato's book "Just Out of Reach: The

Greg Prato's book "Just Out of Reach: The 1980s New York Yankees."

Now that the basketball and hockey playoffs are over and I am staring at a summer work schedule with more time off than Henrik Lundqvist or Mike Francesa, it is time to catch up on some long-neglected reading.

First up: Greg Prato's "Just Out of Reach: The 1980s New York Yankees," an oral history that features some of the zany stories and characters from a rare championship-free decade for the Bombers.

It also was a time when the Mets took over the town, as those of us old enough to know recall very well.

Speaking of age, there is a clear nostalgia sweet spot for the book, namely Yankees fans younger than me who don't clearly recall the teams of the mid-to-late 1970s and those old enough to know Yankees history did not begin in 1996.

Prato has assembled an impressive array of players from the era, many of whom don't mind being honest about those times now that enough years have gone by.

Among the missing are stars such as Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson, who did not agree to interviews.

But often the second-tier (and lower) players are the ones with the best stories, and there are many of those quoted here.

Among the bigger names who appear is Goose Gossage, who is his usual, quotable self.

Some of the best insights regard the players' attitudes toward George Steinbrenner, which are many and varied.

The oral history format makes it an easy read, so by all means bring it to the beach. But no playing catch around seagulls!

New York Sports