Monday, May 21, 2012

Is Pujols the next to join the cast of 'Mendoza's Heroes'?

Al Pepper's Mendoza's Heroes / Pocol Press
While Albert Pujols flirts with the proverbial “Mendoza Line,” one would consider his $30 million dollar a hefty price tag for someone whose output is resembling that of Luis Pujols (no relation), the former catcher for the Houston Astros in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. For every superstar such as the younger Pujols, rosters across major league baseball have been filled with good-glove, no-hit backup infielders, fifth outfielders and defensive-minded catchers in the mold of the elder Pujols.

Light-hitting crusaders such as Choo Choo Coleman, Brian Doyle, and Ray Oyler are valiantly profiled in Al Pepper’s book, “Mendoza’s Heroes: Fifty Batters Below .200.” Pepper provides vivid details on the un-heralded careers of these blue-collar players that struggled mightily at the plate in the majors. Included in the bunch are players that would go on to become stellar major league managers, Herman Franks, Charlie Manuel, and future Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa who is the owner of a career .199 average.

While nobody expects Pujols to be celebrated as the next of Mendoza’s Heroes, Pepper’s attetion to the careers of these anonymous journeymen is a keen reminder that many in baseball have spent their entire careers fighting through the struggles that have the power to humble even the game’s biggest star.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book review: Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball - R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey - Wherever I Wind Up / Blue Rider
The title of New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey’s autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up:  My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball (Blue Rider, 2012), holds a meaning of unpredictability that has followed him from his youth all the way to the mound at Citi Field. The metaphoric title refers to much more than the curious flight of his knuckleball, with Dickey bearing much of his soul in this unprecedented work.

Click here to read the full review of Dickey's exceptional tale.
 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book review: Heart & Hustle - An Unlikely Journey from Little Leaguer to Big Leaguer by Frank Catalanotto

Signed as a skinny 18-year-old from Smithtown, N.Y., Frank Catalanotto was almost cut from the Detroit Tigers during their fall instructional league after his rookie season in the minors. That was until minor league hitting instructor and former All-Star Larry Parrish intervened on the kid’s behalf.

“Yes, he’s weak and needs to get stronger, but his hand-eye coordination is great.  … He’s got a God-given gift. He never misses if he swings at it,” said Parrish to farm director Joe McDonald. Parrish’s words were enough to save Catalanotto from baseball purgatory and give him the push he needed on the way to the major leagues.

Parrish is a central figure in Catalanotto’s rise to a 14-year major league career, detailed in his new autobiography, Heart and Hustle: An Unlikely Journey from Little Leaguer to Big Leaguer (Bantry Bay, 2012).

Click here to read the entire review of his book -  Catalanotto reveals the other side of the game in new book Heart and Hustle.