No matter who you are, baseball starts with some sort of dream. It could be a dream to see a baseball game in person, meet your favorite player or be one of the chosen few who gets to play the game professionally. What if you are one of the chosen few who belong to a family where baseball would be considered the family business, quite honestly…..how cool would that be for any of us? Today’s book takes a look at one of the lucky ones that gets to call baseball their family business and the amazing experiences that it has afforded him and his family throughout their careers.
For my money, to be considered baseball royalty you do not have to be a Hall of Fame caliber player. I just think you have to have a genuine love for the game and put all your efforts into it. For those not familiar with the Campanis family, they have dedicated their lives to the game across three generations, making contributions both on and off the field.
Starting with Grandpa Al who dedicated his life to the Dodgers, both in Brooklyn and New York, he contributed to building National League powerhouses that for decades were tough to beat. Second generation Jim Sr., had a respectable career on both the major league and minor league levels. With stops in Los Angeles, Kansas City and Pittsburgh during his playing days, he was able to witness many things that none of us will ever get to experience around baseball. Finally it brings us to Jim Jr. A hot prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, that quite possibly through no fault of his own, never got the real shot he deserved to make it to the Major Leagues.
Born Into Baseball takes a look at the journey of Jim Jr. From his upbringing experiencing the Major Leagues through his Father Jim and Grandfather Al’s careers, which ultimately led to him deciding this is what I want to do with my life. Jim takes us through his college experiences and how he learned to appreciate and play the game on a different level. Next he leads you through his time in the Minors. Sharing with the reader all of the friendships he made along the way as well as sharing the lighter side of being a Minor Leaguer. He also shows the reader what a player goes through when he realizes, by his own choice or someone else’s, that it is time to lay the dream to rest. It is a very interesting look at what goes through the mind of an aspiring player.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the Campanis history lesson. You learn about his grandfather Al who spent a lifetime with the Dodgers, representing them as they both deserved and expected. Only in the end, to watch his entire career collapse around him due to a few unfortunate comments on national television. It is a sad legacy to leave behind and hopefully as time goes by people will forgive the poor judgement of the comments and give Al the respect he earned throughout his lifetime. Jim also looks at his Dad, Jim Sr’s baseball career. It shows a level of dedication to the game and a desire to compete and reach a dream at almost any cost.
I always find it interesting the the players who never quite reach stardom always have the best insight to the game. Perhaps it is because they spent so much time honing their craft trying to improve. Or maybe it is because they were always behind someone a little better on the depth charts. Whatever the reason may be, Jim Campanis has a great outlook on how the game should be played and showed himself as a willing student throughout his entire career. What is contained in these pages proves you don’t need to be a Hall of Fame player to be a Hall of Fame person.
If you have an interest in getting a feel for what it is like to be on the other side of the baseball curtain, check this book out. It gives a real good look at what it takes to make it to the big leagues and how much you really have to sacrifice to make your dreams come true.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books
Sometimes just being in the right place at the right time can change everything. Some people are just lucky that way. No matter what your chosen path in life, luck always plays a part. Which brings us to today’s book……
Big Red – By: Ken Griffey
Triumph Books 2014
Ken Griffey had a distinguished career in Major League Baseball. Playing for the Yankees, Braves, Mariners and most importantly as a member of The Big Red Machine. Griffey set off from his small town Pennsylvania upbringing and made a great career for himself. Along the way Griffey had brushes with history such as the Marshall University Thundering Herd. Through extenuating circumstances he missed the plane that killed 37 members of Marshall’s team when it crashed.
Griffey went on to be a key cog in the Big Red Machine of the Reds and has lots of stories to tell about that team. From the Hall of Fame caliber players and their manager to even having some thoughts on Pete Rose. After the Reds he moved to the Yankees and you get some quick stories about George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. Quickly, you move to the Braves after escaping the Bronx Zoo, as well as a second stop with the Reds. Finally you move on to the Mariners and you get the insight of more history in the making and his proudest moments in the game.
Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. became teammates on the Mariners and the pride that Ken Sr. was overwhelming. You get some warm and fuzzy feelings from the Father in describing the sons skills and accomplishments. Ken Griffey Sr. was never someone I ever considered warm and fuzzy, but this book shines a new light on him as to how strong a bond he had with Ken Jr.
The personal side of this book shows the bond, especially between father and son, is very strong. It puts a unique perspective on the book, in the fact that you are learning more about Ken Griffey the person. You are not getting the career description like so many of these autobiographies. It is more like a story of the people around him and how they have influenced his life and career.
This is a nice, easy read that all fans should enjoy. I went into this book with Ken Sr. not being my most favored player of the era. Big Red has made me change that view somewhat. It has shown Ken Sr. the person, in a whole new positive light for me.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books