Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Review of "I'm Keith Hernandez"

While I enjoy reading sports memoirs, it isn't often that I find one that truly feels like the athlete writing it is talking to the reader.  This one does - and it is one of the better sports memoirs I have read.  Here is my review of "I'm Keith Hernandez"

I’m Keith Hernandez” by Keith Hernandez

Baseball, professional, memoir, Cardinals, Mets

Publish date:
May 15, 2018

352 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

Current fans of the New York Mets know that Keith Hernandez is not your typical baseball broadcaster.  He will speak his mind and won’t care if it is the popular opinion of the day or will be favorable to the team for which he announces. This memoir which covers his days as a minor league player up to the early 1980’s when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals is written in this same manner.

Just the book format itself has Hernandez traits – he states in the beginning that this will not be the typical memoir, that he won’t be talking about his childhood or his time playing for the Mets (he was part of the popular Mets team that won the World Series in 1986) nor does it follow any other tried and true format.  With some reminiscing about teaching sessions from his father and baseball games with his brother Gary, Hernandez talks about his time in the minor leagues and the initial struggles inside his head when he was a young player with the Cardinals in the mid and late 1970’s. I found his inner struggles with his confidence and his mechanics very intriguing.  Watching him play and hearing him in the broadcast booth, confidence is something that I never believed he lacked.

In between chapters covering his playing days in the minors and with the Cardinals, Hernandez writes about his broadcasting career with the Mets, praising his partner Gary Cohen and the crew members who make the telecasts happen. It is in these chapters that the reader will really get to know Hernandez as he talks about the current state of the game and the expanded use of sabermetrics. Those readers who favor the continuing advancement of the use of these advanced statistics will be disappointed as Hernandez, in his outspoken style, criticizes this “growing obsession with sabermetrics.”  He talks about the current importance of an uppercut swing to avoid ground balls, how some believe that stolen bases are to be “avoided” and the increasing dependency of offenses on the home run. Those are just a few of the current trends in baseball in which Hernandez expresses his disdain.

Lastly, while he doesn’t talk about his personal life outside of the game very much in this book, he does touch on sensitive topics such as the strained relationship with his father, his two failed marriages and his drug use. He doesn’t go too far into the last topic, mainly talking about using marijuana and amphetamines. He was known to use cocaine as well, and he shares the time he started using, but doesn’t dwell too much on that topic aside from this. That is mainly because the timeline of his playing days in the book ends in 1980 (one year after he was named co-MVP of the National League with Willie Stargell) and his heavier use of the drug came later.

While this won’t cover all aspects of Hernandez’s career that many would like to read about, such as his playing days with the Mets, it is nonetheless an outstanding look at his playing days in St. Louis and his thoughts on the current state of baseball.  Since I hear him broadcasting Mets games often, I was “listening” to him while reading this and could see him sitting down and telling these stories. This memoir felt truly genuine and was a reflection of the subject. I would recommend this for any baseball fan interested in Hernandez and his take on the sport.

I wish to thank Little, Brown and Company for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

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