With baseball season getting ready to go, I thought this month would be good to read this shorter book I’ve wanted to check out. It’s the story of one man’s first season in the minor leagues.
And being he played for the Phillies, it was even better. Eric Pettis takes us through that rocky year of playing for the Williamsport Crosscutters in Just a Minor Perspective: Through the eyes of a minor league rookie.
Besides the reasons mentioned above, one of the reasons I wanted to read this is because I covered a team in the New York-Penn League for six years. It makes me wish Pettis had played for Williamsport a couple of years ago as I may have had the chance to see him play. Not only that, maybe the team I covered would have made the book.
Alas, that team moved in 2009.
Though a quick read, the book had its ups and downs, kind of like one’s minor league career. There’s no actual true copy of the book as it’s on the Kindle. It didn’t take me long — a few days — to get through it. Amazon’s website lists it as 97 pages.
I don’t think this is a middle-ground book, however. By that I mean, if you aren’t a baseball fan, you might not enjoy it. There’s not a lot of non-baseball things and Pettis often gets caught up in terminology, which for a baseball junkie like me is great, but for others might be a turnoff.
That being said, if you are a fan of human nature and seeing what life can be in other walks of life, this can do a decent job at telling you about life on the road in the minor leagues. Though being a beat writer for a team wasn’t a travel position (I think I went to 3-4 away games, maybe, in six years), I heard many stories about life on the road, through managers, players and even the guy who drove the team’s bus. Pettis gives people a look inside that world. It’s not all cakes and ice cream on the road as a minor leaguer. Long and boring bus rides are status quo. Crampy locker rooms and bad hotels can often be normal. It’s not glamorous, that’s for sure.
Still, there are negatives to this book. I’ll touch more upon them later, but one major one to me is Pettis changing names. Books like these have been written before and names are used. Ballplayers are public figures. Names can be used. And should be used. I found, at times, scratching my head over this. He notes there are a couple whose names are not changed, but unless you Google each person, you don’t know. As a Phillies fan, I found that highly disappointing as being able to know who some of the people were would make it better.
Anyway, on with the review.
This book is about baseball. That gets a pretty big thumbs up from me right off the bat. It’s also about the minor leagues, so another thumbs up.
Pettis can be quite descriptive at times. I felt like I got to know his host family and house. Some of the clubhouses he takes you into, you can almost feel like you are there. The views from the dugout and such. The bus rides. He paints an interesting picture of the game and some of the people he has encountered along the way.
I think one of the best parts of this book is the story is about one of the lowest levels of minor league ball. Conditions, usually, improve on your way up the chain. So knowing what it’s like on one of the bottom rungs is excellent.
And, because of some things, the size isn’t bad. If this were to be more of a bookstore-type book, I think it would need to be added to. some of the negatives, which I’ll get to in a moment, would have to be cleaned up, too. But this book has potential to be even bigger given the subject and given America’s love of baseball.
I also like how Pettis paints himself. He doesn’t make it like he’s a goody goody. He shows he has a not-so-great side and is humbled by somethings. Going from Division I college ball to low-level minor league can be shocking and I think Pettis shows how he reacted to it. Basically, he shows he has flaws like anybody else and I like the honesty.
A couple of things stand out. First is the re-naming of people. I won’t lie when I say that absolutely annoyed me. As a Phillies fan, I wanted to know who the people are. Of course I probably could have done some research to give a pretty good educated guess, but this wasn’t my research project. It was a book for me to enjoy. I won’t lie that this took away some of the enjoyment.
Pettis also gets repetitive at times. By the end of the book, I really understood that he worked hard. He mentions cliches early in the book, yet sprinkles them throughout the book. Realizing that baseball is full of cliches, I get it. But after a while, it got boring.
There were also times I was left wondering. Though Pettis got descriptive about certain things, other times he was vague. And that’s hard in a book like this. If one is going to cram so much into a book, it needs to be balanced. There were times I couldn’t put the book down. Other times I couldn’t wait until it was done. It was usually when he breezed through things.
I would have liked to have seen more about him. More of his emotion. It seemed like when he touched on emotion, it started quickly and felt guarded. Maybe a couple more “me” stories about him dealing with life.
Finally, as expected with any self-published book (and I expect when I finally do it one day, I’ll have it too…), there were several typos and misspelled things that likely would have been caught with a good proof reader. It wasn’t so bad where I would go nuts, but I notice these things and think it should be mentioned in the review.
In the end, it was a quick and worthwhile read. You get a look into the life of a minor leaguer. It sounds like he was often looked down upon because of his draft spot (which can quite often be true), but he still has a successful, but short, run in the minors. It’s a shame, too, because Pettis seems like the kind of guy who would be worth cheering for. For you baseball nuts, I’d definitely recommend it.
I’d have to go middle of the road with this ones. The good and the bad even out, with neither really making the book slide one way or the other. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars and if it was ever updated and lengthened, I’d read it again and see how it came out.
Artwork (For The Artful Readers Club)
This book is also one I’m reading for The Artful Readers Club. In this club, we read one book per month and also have to so some sort of a piece of art to go with it. For the second straight month, I went with an advertisement. I wanted to use a hiking shelter, but I couldn’t find any in my archived. I thought I had some. Instead, I just went with a trail photo.
Apologies for last month as I dropped the ball in visiting sites. Fear not, I plan on, within the week, visiting for last month AND this month. The link doesn’t work, but I’ll go through those who commented on mine and also those who commented on Darcy’s and try and find last month’s book review.
For the Artful Readers Club
Winner of last month’s book giveaway
I dropped the ball on this one, too! It was supposed to be given away after two weeks or so! Alas, it’s never too late. So I put everybody’s name in the Random.org generator and the winner is Paul Myers. Drop me an e-mail, Paul, and I’ll get the book out to you ASAP!
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