When you think of the Houston Astros in the 1970’s, one of the first names that comes to mind is J.R.Richard. Being a tall and lanky pitcher with a blazing fastball, he combined both of these attributes to scare the crap out of hitters throughout the National League. In an era in Houston before Nolan Ryan, Richard was the ace on the staff of the young up and coming group. With the signing of Nolan Ryan the Astros became a force to be reckoned within the league and the sky was the limit for everyone. Then one day the glass ceiling shattered and for one player life would never be the same.
I was really looking forward to this one. I was always a fan of J.R.’s growing up and remember him in the Astros uniforms of the late 70’s. I remember hearing of his stroke and trying to follow his comeback as best a fan who lived in Philadelphia in 1980 could. The translation of that last sentence means I could not follow it very well. So between the story line and Lew Freedman working on this book I expected a winner. I am happy to say I was not disappointed.
The book follows a back and forth format. Each chapter starts with an overview of what that chapter is going to cover, presumably in the words of Freeman. Then it shifts to Richard sharing his story. It is a good format that works very well for this book, instead of trying to make it all seem like J.R. doing all of the storytelling.
The book covers a great deal of topics in Richard’s life. It talks about his poor upbringing, his trek through the minors and then finally arriving in Houston to stay. The biggest part of this book is of course, talking about his unfortunate stroke and the devastating after effects it has had on his entire life. He shows you how his career was never able to be revived, how marriages failed, business dealings went bad and all the things that eventually led to him living on the streets of Houston.
One would think after all of this J.R. Richard would be extremely bitter, but I found just the opposite in this story. He has been lucky enough to find God and get his life back on track. He has through his faith been able to understand his past, and accept it for who it has helped him become. It really is a remarkable story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles in one’s life. He shows great character and is a better man than I ever could because of his outlook of his own life. If it was me that had to struggle through all of this, I don’t ever think I could have kept the positive outlook he was able to maintain.
There has not been a lot of things published on J.R. in the past, so this book really helps fans understand what truly went on in J.R. Richard’s life. All baseball fans should check this out it really is both an enjoyable and remarkable story.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
Happy Reading and Merry Christmas to all, may Santa be nice to your library this year.
Reading baseball books can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get the inside story of what really happened. On the other, you see that our baseball heroes are human too. For me growing up in Philly, Glenn Wilson was one of those heroes. I spent many summer days at the Vet watching Glenbo roaming the outfield. He also ties into one special childhood memory I have. It was early in the 1985 season and it was Tastykake team player card giveaway day. I remember sitting in the outfield stands watching Glenn play with grace. It took some convincing to get my Dad to go to the game, and my Grandfather came along as well. It was the only time the three of us ever went to a game together, and for no particular reason Glenn Wilson always stuck out in my mind from that day. For that reason alone, I was pretty exited to jump into this book.
When you are a kid you think your favorite players have to be good guys. How else could they be? I mean really you think they are awesome so why wouldn’t they be. But sometimes reality does not quite live up to expectations and that happens here. Glenn Wilson flat-out admits during his baseball career that he was somewhat of a jerk. He admits he might not have appreciated the talent he was given and felt he was owed something. That right off the bat has to be hard for anyone to admit, I know I couldn’t do it. So now that my childhood reality was shattered I jumped further into this book and found it to be very interesting.
Glenbo reviews his years of growing up and making it to the majors. He talks about some of his family and how they helped him along the way. He also talks about his time with the Tigers and his disappointment in being traded to the Phillies. Struggles in Philadelphia are talked about along with some other issues in other cities along his journey. He takes the time to be honest with the reader and not try to sugar coat any of his behavior. If he was a jerk about something he freely admitted it.
His struggles after leaving baseball was something I never heard about before, and to Glenn’s credit he is very honest with himself and the reader. As a reader I appreciate it when the player is honest with me. It adds loads of credibility to his story instead of just writing a book for a money grab. The bottom line of this story is that after baseball and some personal issues Glenn was a broken man. What happens next is something that I found most interesting.
Glenn turns to his faith and trusted in God and that faith helped him transform his life. I will not go in to great details here of the way God has helped Glenn transform his life and become a better person. You will have to read the book to get that story, but quite honestly it is a very remarkable story. I sometimes shy away from books that have a religious aspect to them, because they don’t always come off as genuine and that to me is the ultimate disrespect. That being said, this story is absolutely amazing and the effect it has had on Glenn Wilson’s life has been remarkable.
If you are a fan of Glenn Wilson’s this is a really good book and worth reading. He is brutally honest about his life and himself, on and off the field. This book is also a good read if you are having troubles in your own life, because it shows the strength you are able to find by turning to God.
Now if only someday I can get my Tastykake photo signed to complete my childhood dream!
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lucid Books