One of the more informative baseball books around. This isn't just the scandal-mongering of a Jim Bouton or the wisecracking...


WHITE RAT: A Life in Baseball

One of the more informative baseball books around. This isn't just the scandal-mongering of a Jim Bouton or the wisecracking of a Joe Garagiola. And why should it be? Herzog is, after all, regarded as possibly the best manager in baseball. He doesn't disappoint here. Herzog has the advantage of having had about the most varied baseball career ever--he has played in the minor and major leagues, been a scout, a coach, a minor-league player developer, manager, and general manager, and he has managed All-Star teams, playoffs, and the World Series, both in a winning and a losing capacity. Here, he puts that variety to good use, in a hard-bitten, no-nonsense manner. The winter meetings?--"". . .usually nothing but a lot of eating and drinking and bullshitting. Guys like to go there and talk about making deals, but very few of them have the guts or the authority to make them."" Agents? ""I figure it like this: 99 percent of all the people in the world are good people and the other 1 percent are assholes, and life's too short to spend it talking to assholes. The trouble with agents is that too many of them come from the 1 percent. . ."" Schedules? ""A lot of times the pennant is won or lost the year before, when they make out the schedules. In 1983 [a 13-game road trip in September] was suicide. When I saw the schedule in the spring, I knew we were screwed, and sure enough, we were."" Baseball, in general?--"". . .so goddammed political it's hard to believe. You've got factions upon factions in the league offices, the commissioner's office, and among the various team owners . . .it's like a girls' school."" There are engaging anecdotes galore here, too, such as the one about catcher Clint Courtney (who ""wasn't the smartest ballplayer you ever saw""--""never did get the hang of flashing signs to the pitchers""), who ended up being traded for himself (he became the traditional ""player to be named later"" after having been an original principal in a deal). Herzog tells of scouting for Charles Finley's A's and begging him to sign a young pitcher in the mid-1960's for only $16,000. Finley refused, insisting that the price go down to $10,000. The pitcher?--Don Sutton! With him, the A's might have sewn up the entire 70's instead of only half of them. A series of recommendations closes out the book: the National League should adopt the DH--""nobody comes to the park to watch a pitcher strike out""--and the World Series should be played in a neutral domed stadium, before one of these years finds the Series being finished in mid-November (""the average guy has almost zero chance to see a game anyway""). All in all, a baseball book with a heavy dose of savvy.

Pub Date: March 31, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987