One of the doyens of the sportswriting world takes on the national pastime with a frenetic road trip to minor league clubhouses and fields where true baseball is played.
Longtime sports journalist (Washington Post, Golf Digest, etc.) Feinstein (Foul Trouble, 2013, etc.) chronicles his tours of the farm clubs for a season to uncover real life in the old ballgame. It’s where erstwhile pitchers get injured too much and agile outfielders can’t bat much better than .200. All the participants—players, coaches, managers, broadcasters, umpires and groundskeepers—want to get sent up from the minors to the major league. Some may have been there before; all dream of being called up once or once more. There, the pay is much better—the lowest paycheck is about five times the highest in the minors—and life is good, as well, with decent hotel stays, better clubhouses and travel by charter planes instead of lengthy bus rides. That’s nice, though clearly, the attraction is simply proof of superior ability to play the game. “The most poignant stories in sports are never about the multimillionaires who make their games look easy,” writes the author, “but about the guys who love their games, even though they often fail while playing them.” For most journeyman athletes, far more likely than making the jump to the big leagues is being sent down or released (baseball for “fired”). Feinstein focuses on the careers of two managers, two outfielders, two pitchers, a designated hitter and an umpire through the 2012 season in the International League, but his roster is crowded with many others who wear many different uniforms during the summer. Ultimately, the narrative loses some focus as the wandering athletes, in loving servitude to the game, come and go and come again in these pages.
A kaleidoscopic insiders’ story of baseball as played by the Durham Bulls, Buffalo Bisons, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Norfolk Tides and others like them.