No matter the subject of a baseball biography, there is some sort of story to be told. Some of these stories are better than others and coincide with the skill level of that particular player. Then there are stories like today’s book that come from an average player that did not put up Hall of Fame numbers, but has a Hall of Fame caliber story to tell baseball fans. A journey that took him all over North America John D’Acquisto’s new book takes a hard and honest look at his life and career and the paths it has led him down. This honest look at his own life opens up a whole new side of John that fans can appreciate.
Fastball John starts the readers on the journey of his life and shows his family roots in San Diego and his journey to become a big league pitcher. Next you learn first hand what it is like to be a first round draft pick with high expectations in a major league setting. Stops with major league teams and a few more stints in the minors are covered as well.
John D’Acquisto shows the readers the ins and outs of what being a baseball player is really like. You see the friendships, the expectations of management, contract disputes and health scares that make up a players life. What I found really interesting is how personal relationships are intertwined within this story. It gives a very intimate touch to a career that is usually unable to sustain those types of relationships. One other factor the the authors were able to incorporate into the story was how the music of the time was able to become part of the moment and permanently ingrained in the memories.
For my money the most interesting part of this story is also one of the saddest. John D’Acquisto’s life after baseball was one of accusations, falsehoods and betrayal that in the end led to some serious jail time. John eloquently tells his side of the story of the events that led up to his incarceration and his time behind bars. The sequence of events that led up to this are almost unbelievable and in the end, when you hear all the details wonder how someone could survive something of this magnitude. For what it’s worth, I believe D’Acquisto’s side of the story, it unfortunately seems to be him trusting the wrong people at the time and the justice system wanting to make an example of someone with a famous name.
Honestly, we have all read the books written by the Superstars and sometimes pass on the stories of a lower tier player. This is one of those times you need to make the effort to read the story of that player. It is a gripping story that shows the genuine side of a Major League Baseball player. He has had good times and some really bad times, but in the end Johnny D. comes across as a pretty cool guy. Loved by the fans of the San Francisco and San Diego, he has paid his dues on both sides of the fence and moved on to well earned greener pastures in his life. Take the time to read this book and you will be able to see their is still some good left in people and read a very enjoyable baseball book at the same time.
When one thinks of under rated players lots of guys come to mind. When that happens, which it seems to a lot, perhaps they get overlooked for earned accolades such as the Hall of Fame. Luckily for some of those players they get the credit they deserved, while others just get forgotten. Orlando Cepeda was always a player I thought was overlooked. For what ever the reasons may be he always seemed to be forgotten in the conversations about the greats of the game. It seems since his induction to the Hall of Fame that he has finally gotten the accolades he deserves. Today’s book takes a look at that overlooked Hall of Fame career.
By far this is not a new release, but Cepeda seems to be a neglected subject in the book market. There are only a handful of Orlando Cepeda books out there but this one stands tall among the others. As always, Bruce Markusen does not disappoint.
Markusen’s book takes a very in-depth look at both Cepeda’s childhood and career development along with his MLB career. From his upbringing in Puerto Rico and growing up in the shadow of his father who was a former semi-pro player to becoming a star in his own right in his homeland, you see the environment that helped shape the man. You also get to see the immense pride that Cepeda has within himself and his country.
You next see the struggles Orlando overcomes in reaching the major leagues. At the time he came up, there were still residual effects of segregation effecting the Latino players, so you see how Cepeda was able to overcome these obstacles as well. From the start with the Giants in 1958, through the end with the Royals in 1974, Markusen takes us on Orlando’s journey through playing time, injuries, trades, the post season and winter ball. It shows a very complete picture of Orlando’s career. It also shows the reader some of the labels he was saddled with throughout the league that were not always positive. Injuries proved troublesome for him that got him the label of lazy and others along that line. These types of things helped keep Orlando Cepeda under rated as well.
Finally the author looks at Cepeda’s life after baseball. It briefly talks about his time in prison and how it effected his life. The one positive that has come out of his prison time is that it seems to have changed Orlando for the positive and he has in the end turned his life around for the better. It was also this jail time that probably led to him not getting in the Hall of Fame for as long as he did.
Markusen’s book tells a very good story about Cepeda and his life. The only problem I have with it is that it is only 126 pages. I would have liked to see it talk a little more about life after baseball with some more pages. Even though it is short, it is still a very good book that paints a good picture for the readers.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Arte Publico Press
Before I read this book I had what I thought was a pretty accurate opinion of Al Oliver. As a player, I felt he was often overlooked in terms of the quality of his play and his final career numbers. As a person I felt he came off as a grumpy guy. The personality take was based on the very limited media exposure I saw of him when he played for the Phillies briefly near the end of his career in 1984. He just came off as a guy who wasn’t very friendly when interviewed. After reading todays book it looks like I was wrong about Ol’ Scoop.
This book pleasantly surprised me. Al Oliver really delivered with a pleasant account of his life, career and faith. He goes into great detail giving you the inside “scoop” on his childhood, friends and family life. You get an honest glimpse of the man himself outside of baseball. He is like any other human being on this earth with family issues. He does not hide from any of the issues (good or bad) and shows how his faith has made him a better person and guided him through these issues. As far as the man himself goes, this book has improved my personal perception of Al Oliver. He really wasn’t the grump that came across on the TV screen. He was just very intense and a somewhat private person.
On the career side of things I always knew Al Oliver was a good player. I just never realized how good. The book has several detailed pages of his hitting and fielding stats. Which leads me to my next question, why has he been overlooked so long for the Hall of Fame? With the types of numbers Oliver put up during his career, which are better than some of the others that have already made the Hall during his era, it makes me wonder why. Al Oliver also I think has the same questions in the book, but it is not a bitter former player asking why. He has said several times in the book if it is God’s will then it will be. Which is a great attitude and belief to have if you are in his position. It again shows his strength in his own faith.
Getting back to the question of why hasn’t Al Oliver made the Hall of Fame. I have no idea personally as to why. The man’s numbers speak for themself. With career numbers like this, he belongs in the Hall. Which now leads to another sticky topic of the Hall of Fame being a popularity contest with the writers. Perhaps several of the writers that would have voted for Al, got the same impression of him that I had previously. Perhaps some of those writers should read this book and get perspective on who the man actually is. Perhaps it would put some long-held grudges to rest.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a very quick read that I finished in an afternoon. The book is very heavy on pictures but gives you a comprehensive look in to his personal and professional life. Baseball fans that were around when Al played should really enjoy it. The book is being release on 9/30/14 and is available from two sources that I know of:
From the publisher at http://www.vippublishing,com
or direct from Al oliver at http://www.al-oliver.com where I think you can get a signed copy.