SUPER JOE: The Life and Legend of Joe Charboneau by Joe; Burr Graeff & Terry Pluto Charboneau

SUPER JOE: The Life and Legend of Joe Charboneau

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An indulgent third-person appreciation of Joe Charboneau: an authentically dumb jock of touchy temperament whose baseball talents won him 1980 Rookie of the Year honors--and a cult following among Cleveland Indians fans. Cleveland sportswriters Graeff and Pluto review in often-sordid detail the brief, chaotic career of the majors' ""first punk rock ballplayer."" A violent clod in and out of the classroom during his Bay Area boyhood, Charboneau was a late bloomer on the diamond; professional scouts didn't take notice till he starred for a junior college nine. After signing with the Phillies for a modest bonus, the homesick Charboneau squabbled constantly with minor league managers and coaches, quitting cold one month into his second season. The Philadelphia club offered him a second chance, and he returned to lead the California league in batting. But he was dealt to Cleveland as just-too-much-trouble. After hitting .352 for Chattanooga (a double-A farm club) in 1979, Charboneau was invited to the tribe's spring training camp. He performed well and made the roster--after surviving a four-inch-deep chest wound in a brawl south of the border. Super Joe rapped out three hits in Cleveland's home opener and, overnight, became the city's most idolized sports figure in decades. By the time the books were closed on 1980, Charboneau--despite several disabling injuries, two lengthy slumps, and frequent run-ins with manager Dave Garcia--had batted .289, slugged 23 homers, and driven in 87 runs in 131 games. He also became the subject of a local-hit disco record as well as T-shirt and poster art. The authors provide workmanlike accounts of Charboneau's diamond doings, but they treat his off-field antics with boys-will-be-boys forbearance. Whether Super Joe will fade as quickly as Bo Belinsky and other too-much/too-soon phenoms remains to be seen. In the meantime, this premature memoir offers little of interest for adults, and a dubious example for younger readers.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
Publisher: Stein & Day