A copy of Doug Glanville's new book came through the Gaslamp Ball Offices and I had the task of reviewing it.
Doug Glanville, for the casual fan, is a former Major League ballplayer and currently writes a column for the New York Times. He was the first African American Ivy Leaguer in the Major Leagues (our own Will Venable being the second). Son of a doctor/poet and schoolteacher. Glanville studied systems engineering.
On the cover of the book, Buzz Bissinger says Glanville's book is, "[one of] uncommon grace and elegance. It is a book about baseball unlike any I have ever read, filled with insight and a certain kind of poetry in its spare and haunting prose." Even though Buzz Bissinger is the guy who came just shy of physically assaulting Will Leitch because of a select group of idiot commenters on his blog, Bissinger's also the guy who wrote Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August, so we can assume he knows what he's talking about.
The cover of the book is very pretty. A worn and faded glove is placed pleasingly against a black background. We can see, in sharpie, where Glanville's name has been written close to the base of the glove.
The subtitle of the book (A Ballplayer's Inside View) is relatively brief.
All that is to say that the book itself is very well written in parts, but ultimately uneven.
The book is broken up into chapters that read like an outline to be filled. Before the First Game. During the Game. Respecting the Game. Et Cetera. So when subjects cross chapters, there are bits that are repetitive. For example, I felt that I read several times that ballplayers drive nice cars. At another point, it seemed like we were talking an awful lot about beautiful women that ballplayers score. These bits of information are not "filled with insight" nor "a certain kind of poetry".
During the very well written and interesting portions, we actually do learn quite a bit about what it feels like to be a major leaguer. Learning about the hierarchy within the clubhouse is something most fans could probably guess at (veterans at the top, rookies at the bottom), but learning about the hierarchy in the Family Waiting Room was a fun bit. The rule being that the longest tenured player's wife (the Queen Bee) typically runs the show and if you're not an immediate relative, you better make sure that you pay tribute to the Queen Bee or else your privileges can be revoked.
This means, no girlfriends who are going to roll in drunk/half-naked/obnoxious in front of the kids.
I would like a more thought out book (better edited?) from somebody with Glanville's background and I wonder if he jumped too quickly at the opportunity to write this one. I would recommend Glanville's NY Times column as some good reading. The three or four columns that I've read have been enjoyable. If you're a big fan of the columns, you might enjoy the book more than I did.