BASEPATHS: From the Minor Leagues to the Majors and Beyond by Marc Gunther

BASEPATHS: From the Minor Leagues to the Majors and Beyond

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Competent, low-key, lackluster portraits of ten ballplayers at various stages of their career--from eager kids on big-league farm teams to retired stars like Bill White and Catfish Hunter. The squad Gunther has assembled is attractive enough--it includes such clean-cut sorts as the Mets' Ron Darling and the Chisox's Ron Kittle--and he tells their stories straightforwardly enough. But he lacks the wit and zest of writers like Sports Illustrated's Frank Deford, and he's too timid to get ""up close and personal."" Gunther coughs in embarrassment once over Ferguson Jenkins' arrest for possession of cocaine, but he carries discretion so far as to mutter that Catfish Hunter was ""hampered by a foot injury,"" instead of simply saying that he lost his little right toe in a hunting accident. Still, Gunther has his merits: he does convey a sense of the brusing stress of playing for teams like the Bluefield (Va.-W.Va.) Orioles--long bus rides, greasy spoons, shabby little parks--as well as the miseries of batters (Bill Almon, Steve Kemp) failing into slumps and pitchers (Darling, Jenkins) occasionally losing their stuff. The only man who seems to have been totally consistent is cold, imperious, sharp-minded Bill White, now a Yankee announcer. Gunther's choices, in any event, are all articulate--so fans looking for solid baseball shop-talk (how Ferguson Jenkins approaches the strengths and weaknesses of Steve Garvey, Darryl Strawberry, and Mike Schmidt) will get lots of it here. Otherwise, a rather sleepy day at the stadium.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1984
Publisher: Scribners