by Mike Shropshire ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 12, 1996
A tiresome ""gonzo"" journalism account of mid-1970s life on the road with a big league ballclub. As a 30-ish beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Shropshire drew the unenviable task of covering the Texas Rangers, a sad-sack team recently relocated from Washington, D.C. (where they were a 1961 expansion descendant of the original Senators team that became the Minnesota Twins--a fact misstated by the author). In a bit of characteristic overstatement, Shropshire comments that the ""Texas Rangers were not really a franchise but rather like a Kurt Vonnegut novel."" And during his stint with the club, the author witnessed (admittedly through a haze of booze and prescription painkillers) some of the game's most absurd goings-on, some of which actually occurred on the field. While the Rangers were not a quality attraction, Shropshire probably should have spent more time reporting on the team's play (which, at least during 1974, wasn't all that bad--they did challenge the powerful Oakland A's for the American League West title) rather than take his regular discursive excursions into the seamy north Texas baseball demimonde of whores, booze, and fistfights--or, even worse, describe his frequent hangovers (""My head was like a gelatinous, blimp-sized container of nerve endings""). Still, for all this noodling, Shropshire does manage some dead-on character sketches, notably of 18-year-old phenom David Clyde, a number-one draft pick who, as a result of being prodded into service too soon in his career in order to fill seats at the Rangers' cavernous and cadaverous ballpark, turned out to be one of the game's biggest busts; Billy Martin, the mercurial, self-destructive manager of the '74 and '75 clubs; ""Strange Ranger"" Willie Davis; and other players, coaches, fans, and sportswriters. This book is unfortunately hamstrung by its author's tortured delivery. It's the literary equivalent of a knuckleball; good on occasions but difficult to handle.
Pub Date: July 12, 1996
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996
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