The greats, the could-have-been-greats, and those who only had a dream tell--repetitiously--of their minor league experiences: the atrocious playing fields, the 20-hour bus rides, the sparse crowds, the roach-infested motels, the microscopic salaries. Yet it's in the bushes, claims author Dolson, that the game is more fun, friendships are more meaningful, etc. And athlete after athlete backs him up--with anecdotes whose humorous/touching endings soon become predictable. A few chapters move out of the locker room. One on drugs and alcohol gets at the roots of addiction: ""You've got to learn to drink. It's part of the game,"" says a coach. On playing conditions and pay, Marvin Miller theorizes that minor-league apprenticeship educates baseball players about employer-employee relations: ""Our guys have been through the mill . . . a football player goes from big man on campus to the NFL."" More candor, and more actual history would have done far better by the material.