“Seinsoth: The Rough and Tumble Life of a Dodger” by Steven K. Wagner
Baseball, high school, college, professional, biography, USC, Dodgers
November 30, 2016
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
The story of Bill Seinsoth is one that sadly is not uncommon: a talented, handsome athlete who dies far too young. Like many others who met this fate, his story is not well known outside of his hometown area and where he starred in his sport. In Bill’s case, this was baseball and he was a big star for his high school in Arcadia, California and also for the University of Southern California (USC). At USC, he was named an All-American in 1968 and played all three years he was eligible for the varsity team under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux.
He immediately signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after graduation and played one season for their Bakersfield farm club. After Bakersfield’s season ended, Seinsoth was killed in a car accident. It came as a shock to everyone as Seinsoth was thought to be the next Dodgers first baseman. In fact, it is believed that even a player as great as Steve Garvey would not have played that position for the Dodgers had it not been for the tragic death of Seinsoth.
Wishing to “capture the essence of Bill Seinsoth”, author Steven K. Wagner has pulled together notes and old newspaper clippings along with correspondence and interviews with people who knew Seinsoth to put together a wonderful book about the short life of this young man. While it has been almost fifty years since his death, the story of Bill Seinsoth still resonates in southern California to this day and readers who pick up this book will be touched as well.
The writing of this book as well as the content is what makes it a truly special read. Admittedly, when I was reading the introduction I was thinking that this will be a typical account of a young life from someone who knew him and would not dare say one negative word. On that last comment – there was not ANYONE mentioned in the book who could say that – even when the comments or quotes were taken from the time Seinsoth was alive, not just sharing fond memories.
The manner in which Wagner put this story together was amazing considering the difficulty he had in trying to obtain some information. One very nice touch and a great example of how well the writing is in this book was the chapter on Seinsoth’s season in Bakersfield. He was able to cobble together a good picture of what life was like for him in the low minors through letters that Seinsoth sent to his girlfriend Gaye Gannon. Given that was the main source of information and the fact that Wagner was able to write about that season in a way that the reader will be able to fully understand what Seinsoth went through that season was truly amazing.
This is a book that once a reader gets going, he or she will not be able to put it down. That was the case for me as Wagner had me at the time of Bill’s Little League adventures – Seinsoth was so good in Little League that some people wanted him off the team because he was TOO good. That is a good way to describe how I felt about this book – it is almost TOO good to simply be called a biography. Even if one has never heard of Bill Seinsoth, this is a book that is highly recommended to add to one’s baseball book shelf.
I wish to thank Sunbury Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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