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ODD MAN OUT by Matt McCarthy

ODD MAN OUT

A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit

By Matt McCarthy

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-670-02070-6
Publisher: Viking

McCarthy’s debut recounts his brief pitching career with the Provo Angels.

His well-told, insightful memoir should brighten the off-season for serious baseball fans. It provides a colorful, inside look at the distinctly unglamorous life of the minor-league ballplayer, complete with shabby hotels, 17-hour bus rides and little hope of making it to the majors. A 21-year-old lefty out of Yale, McCarthy had a less-than-meteoric start to his pro career in 2002. Drafted in the 21st round, he received a $1,000 signing bonus and a salary of $850 per month, out of which the team deducted fees for laundry detergent for uniforms and snacks for those long bus rides. Readers expecting tales of hard drinking and rolls in the hay with minor-league groupies à la Bull Durham will be disappointed. Provo, Utah, was dominated by the Mormon Church and Brigham Young University, where alcohol was contraband and the co-eds were squeaky clean. McCarthy had no casual flings on the road, and he doggedly abstained from the steroids used by many of his teammates. The clubhouse did shelter a few memorable characters, chief among them the team’s veteran manager, who occasionally unveiled a large black dildo as a good luck charm and wasn’t above showing his displeasure by stocking the players’ lockers with tampons and diapers. The author offers some sociological insights. Dominican and white players rarely interacted, he notes, and teammates often found themselves secretly rooting against each other—a byproduct of too many players vying for too few roster spots. We meet rising stars like Prince Fielder, Howie Kendrick and Bobby Jenks, and plenty of lesser-knowns on the way down. But mostly we meet wide-eyed young recruits like McCarthy, struggling to cling to a dream that deep down they know will never be realized.

Entertaining and highly readable, though it lacks the fireworks to satisfy casual fans.