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Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch Hardcover – April 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

From Publishers Weekly

The unpredictable knuckleball pitch shares the spotlight with the Boston Red Sox pitcher Wakefield in this book on one of the most enduring, determined hurlers in pro ball. Following a smart foreword by Phil Niekro, one of the master knucklers, Wakefield, a Red Sox pitcher since 1995 and winner of two World Series, explains how an immature Florida boy who struggled to make any team developed into an ace with a knuckleball that "floats in slow motion," giving batters fits. He credits those who went before him, such as Hoyt Wilhelm, Phil and Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough, and Wilbur Wood, with setting the standard that enabled him to record more outs than any previous Red Sox pitcher. The book, with able support by sports columnist Massarotti, depicts Wakefield as a "really decent person" on and off the field, but it reveals occasional blowups in the dugout with coaches and players, and the difficult times with a madcap prima donna like Manny Ramirez. Competent and entertaining, Wakefield's book is one to savor, especially for the stat-obsessed baseball fan and the novice pitcher in search of a knuckleball to call his own. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547517696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547517698
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ingemi VINE VOICE on April 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to confess I am very prejudiced when it comes to this book.

I have always had a soft spot for the knuckle ball and Tim Wakefield. I followed him when he was in Pittsburgh and was totally delighted when the Red Sox picked him up in 95.

The background info on his early life, how he learned the pitch and the like was pretty interesting as was how Pittsburgh lower level scouts spotting the knuckle ball and having for foresight to develop it. His time on the Sox is a story I've lived though as a fan.

Tim Wakefield remains one of the most popular players in the history of this team. His willingness to be there for the team and the fan and his low key workman like attitude is incredibly appealing in an era where the average fan can't afford a ticket to the game.

The book rightly expounds the value of him as a player, particularly the ability to eat up innings and the importance that is to any pitching staff. More valuable has been his willingness to give himself up for the team, both in pitching and in NOT pitching, but the telling of the story seems a tad flat, rather surprising since the "contributor" Tony Massaroti is a pretty good writer. It can't seem to decide if it wants to be a biography or an autobiography.

It doesn't matter, like the subject you can't help but like this volume. If you are a Red Sox fan you will enjoy it as it brings back the story of our greatest era in a century. If you are a baseball fan you can't help but enjoy it as the story of both player development and the most interesting pitch in baseball, and if you are not a baseball fan you will enjoy this book simply because it is a story about a good guy who makes good.

With the Sox starting 1-7 so far this year Sox fans need something to make them smile. This book is it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 58K on April 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have long been a fan of Wakefield, both as a man and a pitcher. I was happy to hear about the book and looked forward to reading it. Sadly, for me at least, the only reason I finished it was because of my respect for the man himself.

I found the book to be dry, and the narrative to be more statistics-based than personal. I know nothing more about him after reading "Knuckler" than I could have found with a half hour or 45 minutes of Internet research.

Anyone who follows the Red Sox knows intuitively nearly everything the book says. Terms like "team-player" and "durable" are used in color commentary every time he plays, and are over used in the book. Even the quotes, especially the one by Bob Uecker, are repeated almost anytime a knuckleballer pitches.

The only reason I gave "Knuckler" 3 stars was because of Wakefield himself. Anyone who is not a Wakefield or a Red Sox fan will probably be underwhelmed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tim Wakefield longed to be a major league baseball player but his hitting skills weren't enough to vault him into the big leagues. Desperate, Wakefield began honing his knuckleball skills. Little did he know that his ability to pitch the knuckleball would propel him into an incredible career that featured not only several low moments (including being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates) but also several highlights (including two World Series wins). "Knuckler" tells the story of Wakefield's storied, somewhat improbable career.

While "Knuckler" claims to be written by Tim Wakefield with Tony Massarotti, it is written in the third person and it is clear that Mazz did the writing. That actually fits in with Wakefield's personality - he never forgot how close he came to not making it into the big leagues and he quietly does his job and while he appreciates the accolades he doesn't go after them. Because of this, he may seem an odd choice for an autobiography until you start looking at his numbers and realize that despite the uncertainty of the knuckleball, Wakefield has put up some impressive numbers and is, in fact, one of the all time winningest pitchers in Red Sox history.

"Knuckler" looks not only at Wakefield's career but other knuckleball pitchers. This is interesting, as is the story of Wakefield's early life and baseball playing career, including his brief stint with the Pirates. The book dwells only briefly on Wakefield's private life - more on his childhood than his adult life off the field - this is again fitting for Wakefield's personality. As a red Sox fan, for me the most interesting parts of the book were the ups and downs of Wakefield's Red Sox career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Section36 on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Tim Wakefield burst onto the national scene as a playoff hero with the Pittsburgh Pirates almost 20 years ago. He fell off the scene almost as quickly. Since then, his career followed a long but bumpy path, mimicking the bumps and jumps of his signature pitch. This book follows his career as he changes teams, and changes roles. As he hits the highs and lows that are found in any career. How does he handle his success, and his disappointment? How did he last 20 years?

This is a fantastic book. Terry Francona has often said that he think he's a good manager because he knows what it's like to be a phenom, and what it's like to be washed up trying to hold on. Tim Wakefield certainly knows how both of those feel. Those experiences have formed him into the player and teammate he was. He was a slightly cocky youngster who assumed baseball would be easy. He was almost released before finding a role using the knuckler. He starred with the Pirates. He was released not long after. With the Sox he's been a Cy Young contender, a long reliever, a closer, and a struggling starter. It was fascinating to see how all those experiences made Tim Wakefield. What did he think of being a closer? Was frustrated that the Sox used him as a utility knife? How much did he want to be the Red Sox career wins leader? This book had a great flow to it. Even the factual errors that seem to be present in any book associated with Tony Massarotti couldn't detract from that. It was a fun read, that I had trouble putting down. Tim Wakefield's career has a way of sneaking up on people. 200 wins? From that reliever? After reading this book, you'll see that it never should have surprised anyone. Go read it. Quick.
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