Book Review: Foul Ball

Foul BallFoul Ball.

I’m not a baseball fan.

Sorry, Just not.

I do love to read about it. I think Baseball writers might be the best of the sports writers, due to the fact that they have about 17 hours during a game where nothing is going on, and have learned to add drama to EVERYTHING from the players to the fans to the 0-1 pitch to even the rolls of dirt in the left center field.

I’d almost be willing to say that I have read more about baseball than I have watching it on TV (but I’ll go to a live game in a heartbeat.)

american legion baseballSo, Lets get into this book. I picked this one up at a roadside bookstop, and it was tattered then. Read it pretty much all the way home. Of course, its a first edition. I dunno if there was a second edition- but its a quick book- at 204 pages.

Allison Gordon, whom I just found on on her Wiki Page, just died on Feb 12th. And was one of the first women allowed to be n the MLB clubhouses, she spent 5 years covering baseball for the Toronto Star newspaper.

Ok, so how is the book?

Weeeeeeeelllllllll, If I’m honest, I’m gonna sound sexist, but in the words of Judd Nelson- give me another word that means the same thing, and I’ll use it.

Bitchy.

Allison GordonMrs Gordon does it, for a good many pages.

On one hand, its a great thing, since she’s BRUTALLY honest, and does not care about getting another job, so she lets it fly. This doesn’t read like a newspaper article extended either, so I don’t know if this is normal. I do know (thanks Wiki) that she quit baseball to write mysteries, but that’s irrelevant for this book.

Lets go down the clearly defined chapters.

  1. Opening Day.

She talks about the beauty of the game and adds in some stories about the players, and her entrance into the clubhouses, some players she loved and managers like Earl Weaver, some she hated, especially Reggie Jackson. You get here that she really does love the sport.

  1. The Players.

Here she talks more about the players, going into some minor leagues stories all the way up to Ricky Henderson and Wade Boggs

  1. The Bossesgeorge steinbrenner

Managers more than owners, though she hates George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, and of course, Toronto’s Bobby Cox gets loved.

  1. The Playgrounds.

I wish this chapter was twice as thick. Again, its 1984, so its a bit out of date, but she talks about each American Home Field. She hates all the National Parks, by the way.

  1. The Fans

She talks about the memorabilia collectors, and rotisserie leagues, including a VERY moving story about a member of her APBA that passed.

  1. Ink Stained Wretches

Again this one is fun, she breaks down all writers into groups- based on how they act and/or treat her, fascinating to hear Peter Gammons called a “Young Turk” and she also talks a bit about Randy Galloway and even hates on this new group that is all about this thing called “Sabermetrics”- something that is a fad and has nothing to do with baseball.

Yeah. Big Hate here.

Finally the women get their own group. Not good enough for the other groups I guess.

  1. Token Broad

Yeah, its time for me vs the world part of the program, from the lawsuit that caused it to being told “She ain’t no Pecker checker” All your questions about a MLB lockerroom are answered.

  1. The Winter Game

This is about The Venezuela leagues and the people and fans there. Again, I wish this one was longer, this is where she really shines in getting the human element.

  1. The Spring Game

Spring Training

  1. On the Road

This one is fun, and could have been an entire book, Mrs Gordon goes through each level of the minors, talks about the food, the per diem, the hotels and travel. Special Hate for Danny Ainge, for some reason.

  1. Closing DayTorontoBlueJayslogo

Talks of her quitting, and how she loves going to the games as a fan.

  1. Rooting for the Home Team (and closing day)

Inside the brain trust of the Blue Jays. Details on Trades and players.

More hate for George Steinbrenner

I go through these chapters not in an effort to break them all down, but to show how varied this book is. Parts of this book end too soon, like the Venezuela portion, parts you almost have to push through, but this book moves at a brisk pace. I do tend to wonder why Mrs Gordon felt the need to sprinkle in SO many names. I understand she is more than willing to throw a hatchet at guys like Reggie Jackson, but I’d almost be willing to say there is a name every other page at the minimum. I’m sure If I was a early-80s baseball fan, I  could see or care about all the men, but now? No, not so much, non-baseball fan? I couldn’t pick the players she talks about out of a lineup, other than say Danny Ainge (I have his BlueJay Rookie Card) or Reggie Jackson. Lets just say the two men that dominate the spring training day chapter I wouldn’t know if they were sitting beside me on the bus.

Check out the permanent printed Mr.
Check out the permanent printed Mr.

I do recommend this book, if you can find it cheaply enough. I would also say if I found a collection of Mrs Gordans work, I would snatch it up as well. Unlike most books, I can read this in under an hour, and get a little irritated there isn’t more, I just feel like she left too much on the table, like this is a rough draft of her outline for the actual book. Had this been 500 pages- or “A Year in the Minors” I might have gotten bored with it, but we will never know, I can read Feinstein on golf or baseball, I’m not saying she’s on that level, but I would have liked to find out.

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