Some teams leave an indelible mark on the history of baseball. Everyone likes remembering the greats such as the 60 Pittsburgh Pirates, 76 New York Yankees, 69 New York Mets, 68 Detroit Tigers and my personal favorite, the 80 Philadelphia Phillies, are just a few of the teams that make the grade. Even beyond these there a few teams that stand higher above all the rest as the most memorable teams. The 1986 New York Mets are in a class all by themselves. A team of rough and ragged players that worked their way into the hearts of New Yorkers, and turned the baseball establishment on its ear for one glorious season. Erik Sherman has written a new book that takes a look at some of the key players from that team and where their lives have gone both in and out of baseball.
Being that 2016 is the 30th anniversary of their championship season, and the fact that the Mets surprisingly made it to the World Series last year I expected a large selection of Mets themed books this year. The ones I have found so far all have varying themes. The 1986 season as a whole is looked at by some, reliving Bill Buckner’s nightmare is approached by others, but this is the first one I have come across that looks at the individual players.
Erik Sherman dedicates a chapter to each of several key players he has interviewed from the 1986 New York Mets. They discuss their contributions to the team and the instances of how they came about becoming a member of the Mets. Sherman does in depth interviews with each of the players and you get a nice feel of what they think were the most important qualities of that team. The players all make clear that they were proud to be a part of that team and some even show some disappointment that the Mets have not reached out after their playing days and done a better job of preserving team heritage.
One of the most important things I found in these interviews was that none of the players that had issues, on or off the field during this era, shied away from their indiscretions. Everyone manned up and admitted their faults. Perhaps that is just a product of growing older, but it was still refreshing to see former professional athletes admit to their mistakes.
You may not be a Mets fan but you have to give this team their due, honestly they were an interesting team to watch. The circumstances that surrounded the team at times and the way they won the World Series are a better script then Hollywood would have been able to produce. So put your team affiliation away and check this book out. Erik Sherman does a great job with his book. He asks honest and clear questions in his interviews and doesn’t pull any punches with the guys. I have enjoyed Erik Sherman’s other work and have reviewed his books about Mookie Wilson, Steve Blass and Glenn Burke in the past with positive results from all.
Take this walk down memory lane with the New York Mets of the past. You will find it is time well spent and probably like I did, find it hard to believe this was 30 years ago.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Berkely Books
Some stars rise to the pinnacle of the game slowly and come back down at the same rate. Others reach the pinnacle and in one quick move come screaming back to earth at an alarming speed. Steve Blass unfortunately falls into that second category. Throughout his career, Blass was a superstar pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but then one day he lost it all. He basically lost all his pitching control and was unable to find home plate again. No reason was ever figured out for Blass’ loss of control but it became a career destroying problem. Today’s book takes a look at how perseverance and a positive attitude can help you make lemonade out of lemons in this game of life.
Steve Blass had a pretty good career. The only problem was it was cut short due to a baffling illness. He lost all his control and his career plummeted. Most players that would be the end of the story but luckily for baseball fans, that is not the end of his story. Steve Blass turned his damaged and essentially dead career into a lifetime of being a contributing member of the proud Pittsburgh Pirates family.
A Pirate for Life takes a look at Steve’s entire life. From his humble upbringings to his rise to stardom on the mound. You see his World Series triumphs as well as a few bumps along the way. You get an in-depth look at the ultimate demise of his career and the toll it takes on him personally. All that being said you see Steve Blass’ perseverance and strength come through. You see him embark on a new career and becoming his own institution in Pittsburgh as a member of the broadcast team. It shows the type of quality person Steve Blass is and how he overcame his obstacles to build a life and career he can be proud of.
Personal strength is an underlying theme in this book, and I think it unintentionally gives the reader the message that with confidence, dedication and whatever your own measure of strength is, you can attain anything you wish. It is a nice message that I feel is born out of the story and really not something you get in a baseball book that often.
All baseball fans will enjoy this. It is an interesting story both on and off the field, and its underlying message is one that will benefit everyone. Sometimes you life plan doesn’t work out as expected, but in the end result may be greater than you could have ever imagined.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Triumph Books