Sunday, April 1, 2018

Review of "Insight Pitch"

The second of the two opening weekend baseball reviews is one on a great memoir of a nondescript pitcher from the 1970's.  Even if you have never heard of Skip Lockwood, you will certainly want to read his book full of interesting and funny stories about his time in baseball.  Here is my review of "Insight Pitch"

“Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer” by Skip Lockwood

Baseball, professional, memoir, humor, Brewers, Athletics, Mets

Publish date:
March 6, 2018

248 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Claude “Skip” Lockwood was a major league pitcher who was on six different teams over a 12 year career. He wasn’t a star player on any of them, never won any awards or all-star appearances or had an extraordinary game that will be seen forever on videos. However, what he did collect during his career was many humorous and interesting stories.  He shares them in this very entertaining and fast paced memoir, “Insight Pitch.”

Lockwood was originally signed by the Kansas City Athletics as a 17 year old “bonus baby” infielder and it is this signing where he shares one of his many humorous stories. When the A’s sent a team executive named Pat Friday to the Lockwood residence to sign Skip, the negotiations went fine with Skip and his father, but when the moment came for the final decision to sign, Dad left the room, leaving Skip and Friday alone.  Skip took a pen and made two changes to the contract.  One was to correct the name on the contract to his given name, “Claude Edward Lockwood, Jr.”  Then came this gem: “Then I said ‘There’s just one more thing right here,’ pointing to the space where the number $35,000 had been written. I put an oversized ‘1’ in front of it.”

Then Friday calls owner Charlie Finley, who asks Skip why he should pay him that kind of money – the answer was “Because I’ll make you a winner.”  The phone is given back to Friday, Finley agrees to the new amount and Lockwood becomes a bonus baby. This story was one the best of many great ones in the book, mainly because of the guts it took for a 17 year old kid to do that in the days of the reserve clause and no major league draft.

Lockwood shares the same type of stories through his transformation from an infelider to a pitcher in the minors, then from a struggling starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers to a more successful relief pitcher for the New York Mets. The best of these was the prank that Mets clubhouse manager Herbie Norman played on Lockwood on his first day as a Met.

Immediately upon arrival at Shea Stadium, Norman hurries Lockwood out to the bullpen, as he keeps saying how the team needs Skip to be ready to pitch right away. Norman leads him to the bullpen, where Lockwood greets each man personally and tells them how he is excited to be on the team. Problem was that this was the VISITING bullpen and each man he spoke to was a member of the Montreal Expos.

These are just two of the many examples of the captivating and funny stories that Lockwood shares and makes the book one that any baseball fan will enjoy, whether or not he or she has ever heard of Lockwood without having to look up his statistics on Baseball Reference.  This page-turner is one of the best sports memoirs I have read.

I wish to thank Sports Publishing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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