Friday, March 6, 2015

Review of "Pinstripes and Penance"

Continuing to catch up on some of the books that I had not read earlier after the author or publisher was kind enough to send a copy.  This is one that I received just before it was published in early February and now am glad to say that I have completed it.  Here is my review of "Pinstripes and Penance."

“Pinstripes and Penance” by Michael Harrison

Baseball, biography, Yankees

Publish date:
February 2, 2015

247 pages

3 1/2 of 5 stars (good)

Many sports biographies will talk about a player’s life and how he or she overcame certain obstacles such poverty, injury, depression and other such troubles in order to achieve success in athletics.  This is not one of those stories.  In a well-researched book by Michael Harrison, the reader learns about a former baseball player, John Malangone, who did not become a star and instead was held back by his own personal demons.

Without giving away the story or the particular demons that haunted John, it is safe to say that between a personal tragedy that befell him at a young age, his relationship with the Mob, and his own temper, it was not an easy road for the young man.  Nonetheless, he was able to not only play baseball well enough to be drafted by the New York Yankees, he was also a good boxer and was able to eke out a successful career outside of sports.

He didn’t get too far in the Yankee system and only played with the major league club during spring training.  However, that was enough to provide a few entertaining stories that a baseball fan would enjoy, including those with another catcher (John’s position) with the Yankees at that time.  You might have heard of him – some guy whose last name was Berra, nickname of Yogi.

However, the book concentrates mainly on John’s struggles to overcome his personal demons which are illustrated as his main drawback and what keeps him from succeeding in not only baseball, but other endeavors as well.  The research and stories into his life are interesting enough to keep a reader involved.

The one negative I found about the book is that it seemed to be choppy in parts and I had a hard time following it.  Also, even though I enjoyed that chapter, the first chapter when John is a guest on Maury Povich’s show had me confused until later explained – why was the book starting off with this?  I eventually was able to follow along, but I found that the entire structure of the book was a little difficult to follow.   Nonetheless, it was a very good story of a troubled young man that readers will enjoy and will end up cheering for this man to succeed.

I wish to thank Mr. Harrison and the publisher Cincy Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?
I did skim a few sections of the history of organized crime, but some passages with the Mob were actually some of the best parts of the book.

Pace of the book: 
I found the book fairly slow over the course of the entire story for the most part. Aside from the actual tragedy that affected John, which occurs fairly early in the book, I didn’t think it was a smooth or easy read. However, John’s story kept my interest.  As a result I am glad I stuck with it and finished the book.  

Do I recommend? 
Readers who like to read stories on people who overcome personal tragedies or difficulties will like this book.  There isn’t a lot of baseball or even boxing in the book, so sports fans may be disappointed in it, but the personal story of Malangone makes up for that.

Book Format Read:
E-book (PDF)

Publisher link:

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