It is a simple yet valid question, that I see pop up from time to time. Which players really deserve a book? What criteria have we set forth as a baseball community to answer this question? To date, I don’t think we have answered that question, and in my honest opinion it is one that probably should will be answered. Every player, coach, executive, umpire or whomever has a unique story to tell. It is up to you as the discernible reader to decide which stories have merit and which ones were better lost to the passage of time. With the help of a few unbiased reviews you can usually get a feel of what to pick up and which ones to leave alone, but there are still a ton of baseball books out there to choose from. For my money, I like the somewhat obscure players telling me about their experiences and sharing stories that may have never been told before. Today’s book is one of those types of books that takes a look at a life and career dedicated to baseball from someone who wasn’t a household name.
If you asked 100 baseball fans who Skip Lockwood was my guess is a majority of those asked would not be able to answer right away. That is okay though because baseball history is filled with those types of guys. It is no knock on them as individuals, it is just sometimes how baseball history goes. Lockwood will best be remembered as a serviceable journeyman closer that could eat innings and mop up when needed. He played on some horrible teams and unfortunately what positive things came from his own career got overshadowed by the bad teams he played on.
Skip walks the reader through his life in and out of baseball. You go through his childhood and see how he knew early own that baseball was his calling. You see all the preparation he did to achieve this dream and the countless hours spent perfecting the trade. Once the dream became reality and he was signed by a professional team, you see the struggles of honing his skills at the next level which led to an eventual position change and the making of a Pitcher. It is an honest look at the game at a minor league level during that era and shows the struggles a lot of guys faced.
Next up you see the game through Lockwood’s eyes at the Major League Level. Stops in Milwaukee, California, New York, Oakland and Boston paint a picture of the consummate professional always willing to work on the trade. While results may not always have been what was wanted or expected, it wasn’t from lack of trying.
One aspect of this book that I found very interesting was Lockwood’s recollection of every thought and action during certain times on the field. He gives such detail of exactly what was going through his head at that very moment. How the ball felt, how the sweat felt, what exactly his mind was thinking and more. Now I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I always find it fascinating when players have such vivid recollections as this. It really gives an interesting look at what it is like to be out there on the mound in given situations.
If you are looking for a book that gives the reader some new stories and an honest and detailed look at what goes through your mind when you are a Major League player when they are out on the field, then you should check this book out. It’s a nice easy read that sheds a different light on a player than what many of us are used to. It engages the reader on a different level and provides a great insight to the game in many different ways. So I ask again……….Who deserves a book? Many more people than you would originally think.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing
Happy Reading Gregg
Even though baseball players are constantly in the public eye, it does not mean you always get one hundred percent of the details. Almost every players image until recently was a product of their teams media relations department. They would work tirelessly to keep certain issues and events out of the public eye. In the advent of our instant media society some of the demons escape long before anyone on the team knows anything about them. Such is the tale of todays book. Oil Can Boyd was a rising star but you never knew about all of the demons lurking inside his soul.
Dennis Boyd was a superstar not long into his career. With a nickname like Oil Can, he was bound to be a fan favorite in Boston. Underneath the smiling surface were demons that were gnawing away at the star pitcher and made his life difficult at the very least. Being under the sports microscope that Boston is probably didn’t help Boyd’s problems and the end results were more than likely etched in stone long before anyone realized.
A product of the deep south, Dennis Boyd was a youngster when racism was rampant. Events that occurred during his upbringing did a lot of damage in shaping the man he became. You can see that many of these events effected the way he approached his own life and how he dealt with people, thus the outcomes that occurred during his career. These same feelings towards the world around him also show how it led him into a life of drugs that damaged his career and relationships with those close to him.
By far Dennis Boyd does not come out of this book looking like a villan or a victim. He comes across as an honest caring man who just wants to be accepted for who he is. Unfortunately, it is one of those circumstances in life that his surroundings have effected him so deeply that he used the only outlets he felt were available. The book is his honest account of what he feels life has dealt him, and it seems he is not holding anything back. After reading this book I think I have a better understanding of what makes Oil Can tick, and it seems he is a half decent guy that just had some bad breaks. My personal view of him has improved through reading this book and I don’t think he is really the head case that the media had made him out to be.
Red Sox and Expos fans will love this book, just because of the team connection. I think fans in general may like it as well because the book is very honest. It does not pull any punches and Dennis Boyd becomes a better stronger man as the book progresses. Even if you hated Oil Can it might be worth checking out because you perception of him may change by the end.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books
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