Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review of "Where Nobody Knows Your Name"

I belong to the "Adopt an Author" program at our local library, in which a reader will contribute half the price of new books by an author in exchange for being the first patron to check out the book upon publication.  I have "adopted" John Feinstein and therefore was able to obtain a copy of this book as soon as it was procured by the library.   This was a great book on minor league baseball and here is the review.

“Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball” by John Feinstein

Baseball, professional, minor leagues

February 25, 2014

368 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Triple-A baseball, one step below the major leagues, has its own unique culture and lifestyle.  John Feinstein’s book “Where Nobody Knows Your Name” describes this through the eyes and stories of nine men: three position players (Scott Posednik, Nate McClouth, John Lindsey), three pitchers (Scott Elarton, Brett Tomko, Chris Schwinden), two managers (Charlie Montoyo, Ron Johnson) and one umpire (Mark Lollo). Their experience ranges from a young man hoping for that shot at the majors (Schwinden, Lollo) to a former World Series hero trying to get back to the big time (Posednik, who hit a walk-off homer in game 2 of the 2005 World Series while playing for the Chicago White Sox).

All nine men featured share what they have liked best and least about Triple-A baseball.  For the managers, they agree that the best moments are telling players that they are being called up.  For a good emotional story, nothing beats that of the time an eleven-year veteran was crying when he was finally promoted during September call-ups. There are humorous stories about the ballparks and travel adventures.  There are human drama stories, especially for some of the older players such as Tomko who wonder at the end of the season if it is time to call it a career or try “one more time.”

These types of stories, ones that make famous athletes seem at least a little more like “ordinary people” is a strength of Feinstein’s writing.  He does that in most of his books on any sport, and this is another one of those books that is a winner because of that human element.  Between extensive interviews with each of the men featured (and hundreds of others as well) and the research into each man’s career and achievements, the reader will feel like he or she is sitting in the stands at Lehigh Valley, Norfolk or Durham.  That moment when the player receives his good news of needing to report to Tampa or Boston to join the big club will make the reader cheer.

If you are a baseball fan, like human interest stories or just want to see what it is like to be on the cusp of celebrity status, read this book.  Feinstein has made these types of books a joy to read and this is another outstanding book in a long line of them.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
Excellent.  The book took the reader through the 2012 Triple A baseball season through all of the stories chronologically and at a very good pace.  The stories in each were long enough to be meaningful but short enough that the reader could follow them easily.

Do I recommend? 
This is a great book for all baseball fans, no matter what level of the game they enjoy. Feinstein brings the experience of the game from the clubhouse to the manager’s office to the field onto these pages that anyone who loves this game will enjoy.

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