If there is one thing I have learned in the new stadium craze over the last 25 years, it is that baseball and politics do not always mix. The involved parties are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum as to what is warranted and who should pay for what. The same problems arise, weather it is replacing an existing stadium or creating an expansion franchise. It all comes down to how the details are handled as to what success comes from all the hard work. Today’s book takes a look at all the struggles one city went through to get a team but still wound up on the losing end of the deal.
Becoming Big League takes a look at the city of Seattle and their efforts to land a Major League franchise in the 1960’s. It shows how some infighting and disagreements over the future of the city led to delays and confusion. It also shows how the local ownership group of the Seattle Pilots were flying by the seat of their pants in all aspects of the business.
From the feel the book gives you their was a group of people, along with the powers at Major League Baseball who really wanted to see the Pilots come to Seattle and succeed. They felt it was a great location that would help baseball thrive in the northwest area of the country and be a nice accent to the teams already placed in California. In theory the Pilots were a great idea, they just met too many off the field problems to thrive.
Local government infighting along with stadium construction issues and owners who financially flew by the seat of their pants while conducting business all doomed the Pilots in Seattle. Even almost a decade after the Pilots were gone and the Mariners arrived for round two of baseball in Seattle, many of the same problems still existed. The only plus side at that point was that Seattle had at least learned the minimum required of them to keep their baseball franchise. More recently Seattle has had the same problems luring the NBA to Seattle almost 50 years later.
Bill Mullins has created a great two part book. One is the baseball study that chronicles baseball coming to the Northwest. From the inception of the Pilots and agreements with Major League Baseball, to the moving of the franchise to Milwaukee and the birth of the Brewers. Secondly this book is a great urban study of local politics. Seattle wanted to keep its small time charm and quaintness, but still attract big money players. It shows how Seattle citizenship was split down the middle as to which path they wanted their city to follow.
If you have an interest in the Seattle Pilots their is lots of great information in here about the team and their short operations. There are some things i here that you don’t always easily come across when researching the Pilots. If you have an interest in local politics and how Seattle of the past functioned, you should give this book a look as well. It shows how some cities have trouble growing when they need to.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Washington Press
When you have a good thing that makes some money, you ride it out until it stops producing. I get that economic principle to its fullest. I also understand the book market has changed drastically over the last few decades, so if you have a product that works you just stick with it. That is the one of the reasons why I see that the todays book has come out with yet another edition.
Ball Four-The Final Pitch
By:Jim Bouton-2014 Turner Publishing
Jim Bouton has never been one to shy away from controversy. From the day the first edition of Ball Four hit the book shelves Bouton has been a lightning rod for it. From the first time the behind the scenes look at a baseball life revealed the skeletons in the baseball closet, people have talked about this book. From sex to drugs to lifting the veil on our favorite baseball heroes this book has gotten some serious mileage in the sports and literary world.
Most if not all of the baseball reading world has read at least one edition of this book. For me, one of the first baseball books I ever read was the second edition, Ball Four Plus Ball Five when I was about 13 years old. For a teenage baseball fan this book was a shocker. Most of Bouton’s career was before my time but it was still a real eye-opener.
What Bouton did was give a day by day no holds barred account of the baseball life. It broke the cardinal player rule of what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. Having an extended career with the famed New York Yankees and then subsequent time with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, Bouton had lots of material. Lifting the curtain on what happened with the high-profile players on the Yankees was a major shock to the baseball world, and really pissed off a lot of people.
This book has been compared at time to Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season, published a decade prior to Ball Four. But in all honesty, Brosnan’s book felt very sanitary compared to Bouton’s and still honored some of the locker room code of the day. Both still have their place in your bookcase, but are very different animals.
The part I find most interesting about Ball Four is how every so often a new version is released. Ball Four has more lives than an alley-cat. Even if it is just a few new pages of material a new edition carrying a new subtitle is released. Sometimes it may just be a signed edition with a new cover that emerges to the retail bookshelves, but every decade or so it seems you can expect something new from Jim. Ball Four-The Final Pitch is no exception.
The Final Pitch gives you five new pages of epilogue from Jim Bouton penned in April 2014. He discusses his personal opinion on steroids and how to handle the players of the era and the issue of Hall of Fame induction. Surprisingly, it is in line with my own personal views on the subject. In the end it gave Jim a new spin on his 45-year-old book and garnered a place in my bookcase for the now 5th different version that I have of essentially the same book. This is the only version I have of the book that is not signed by Jim, so I will have to get working to correct that. I guess in theory, this alley cat, if it truly has nine lives, still has four more versions left to go so it will be interesting to see what the next edition brings to the table.
I think every baseball book collection needs at least one edition of this book in it. Even today it is still an enjoyable book. Partner that with this books historical significance and it should be on everyone’s book shelf.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Turner Publishing