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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Major League Baseball--with all its warts--1975 style
Today in major league baseball the use of steroids is rampant, while the average salary of even a journeyman ballplayer is half a million dollars. This has not always been the case. As recently as 1975, before the advent of free agency, the average professional baseball player's salary in the majors was $27,600. Except for a handful of superstars, baseball players had...
Published on May 21, 2008 by Armchair Interviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost a great book
I do like the writing style and this was a quick read. Unfortunately, a couple faults keep this from being a top-notch baseball book. First, the summary of the book is misleading. It makes it sound like a comprehensive look at the '75 season and how baseball would soon change with the era of free agency. As interesting as it was, the focal point of this book is Billy...
Published 6 months ago by JR


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Major League Baseball--with all its warts--1975 style, May 21, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
Today in major league baseball the use of steroids is rampant, while the average salary of even a journeyman ballplayer is half a million dollars. This has not always been the case. As recently as 1975, before the advent of free agency, the average professional baseball player's salary in the majors was $27,600. Except for a handful of superstars, baseball players had other jobs or at least played in Latin America in the off-season to make ends meet.

Mike Shropshire, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports writer, recounts the highlights of the 1975 season in his personal journal as he follows the trials and tribulations of the Texas Rangers and their American League opponents.

Shropshire writes in a lighthearted gonzo style, where his antics are as much of the story as the events and the people he is covering. This cynical offhanded approach is incorporated with a tendency toward exaggeration, which is the want of many a sportswriter. What is clear is that players of that day and the journalists who covered them, drank to excess, smoked or chewed tobacco incessantly, and chased women with abandon. It would also appear that at least in the recent past, baseball was rife with more than their fair share of characters.

Shropshire's chronicle is not for the faint of heart, the politically correct or the prudish. But if you long for the day when booze was the drug of choice, and the ranks of baseball consisted of men like Ferguson Jenkins, Sparky Anderson, Reggie Jackson, Charlie Finley, and the irrepressible and mercurial Billy Martin - this may be the book for you.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost a great book, June 20, 2014
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I do like the writing style and this was a quick read. Unfortunately, a couple faults keep this from being a top-notch baseball book. First, the summary of the book is misleading. It makes it sound like a comprehensive look at the '75 season and how baseball would soon change with the era of free agency. As interesting as it was, the focal point of this book is Billy Martin's '75 Rangers, the team the writer happened to be covering. So many other intriguing story lines of the season are glossed over and it becomes merely more of a sentimental look back for the author. Second, the author certainly does write with a humorous flair, but needs an editor to cut down on the similes. He makes some great comparisons--several of which had me laughing out loud on the train--but it gets tiresome after a while. A simile every page or two makes the technique lose its effect.
Again, an enjoyable and quick read, but not quite a classic in the baseball writing genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Billy Ball Redux, November 3, 2008
This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
For anyone who has had the pleasure to read "Seasons In Hell", baseball can never really look the same. Told from a boozy, shambling perspective of a fly-on-the-wall beat writer for the Texas Rangers in their inaugural seasons, it exposes the players as less than serious competitors, and the managers as part strategist, part baby sitter, part comedian, and part cheap psycho-analyst.

"The Last Real Season" begins with more lofty intentions, with a forward from the great manager Earl Weaver on the competiveness of the 1975 season, and the quality of hunger of the athletes pre-free agency.

It then springs into the contrast between the Big Red Machine of the Cincinatti Reds and the Boston Red Sox and Yankees and Orioles and fading dynasty of the Oakland A's of the American League. It talks of the changes big money would bring to baseball, and ultimately the corporate aspect would ruin both the fun of the game, and the on-field product.

However, it does not sustain this track at all. Mike Shropshire goes into a continuation of his first book, and picks up his beat of the Rangers from where it left off.

Still, this is not a bad thing. He shows the contention minded Rangers and their mercurial manager, Billy Martin self destruct. Along the way, we see the hilarity of Shropshire's own actions, the quirky nature of many of the teammates, from Willie Davis, the zen meister, to Mike Kekich, the wife swapper, to Steve Hargan, equally hilarious in this book as the last, and of course, Billy Martin, who is the proverbial train wreck you can't shield your eyes from.

In many ways, every bit as funny as its' prequel, missing the shock value, because it is more of same.

I would have liked to have seen a prologue detailing the careers and lives of the principals after the 1975 season ended, as well as some information on Shropshire's post beat career, as well.

In many ways, these stories bring out the joyousness of pro baseball. On seeing how futility plays out among the players, how second division managers cope with disappointment and frustration, and why they continue to come back for more punishment, even before the money kept them there.

Recommended reading for any pure baseball fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "This is a baseball biography. Not of a player, but of a season.", August 18, 2008
This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
"This is a baseball biography. Not of a player, but of a season."

Mike Shropshire's newest book focuses on one of his favorite subjects....the 1975 Texas Rangers and how terrible they were. The Last Real Season actually looks at major league baseball during the 1975 season. Back in the good old days when major league players made an average of $26,000 a season, and negotiated their contracts without agents. Billy Martin (just crowned Manager of the Year for the previous season) was at the helm of the Rangers...the team who had managed a second place finish the season before. The very Texas Rangers being mentioned as a World Series possibility. With amazing recall for someone who imbibed his way through the baseball season, Shropshire recalls those days when players played for the love of the game, the drug of choice was usually on ice after the game, and the players modeled $49.00 leisure suits in the pages of the local papers. The Last Real Season holds nothing back, the infighting, the power struggles, the skirt chasing, the drinking, the weirdness that was the 1975 Texas Rangers (but no mention of the player who kept a gun with him in the bullpen or the night a batboy grabbed an open mike during a national telecast and asked "hey, Cosell, how does it feel to know the whole state of Texas hates your f@!!**@* guts?). Under the "leadership" of pugnacious Billy Martin (who was harder to control then any of the team) the Rangers began to implode before the All-Star break. Shropshire also serves as an eyewitness to Martin's final days (and possible behind the scenes high jinks that landed him at the helm of the Yankees a few day later) ...........and provides the ultimate fan quote "... I guess if you can get rid of the president of the United States, you can get rid of Billy Martin, too."

The Last Real Season is the chronicle of a bygone era. Shrophire looks at the entire 1975 season throughout the major leagues. The 1975 season was the last year before free agency took hold, when polyester ruled, baseball had many larger than life personalities and the hope for the Rangers to make it to the World Series was not yet tainted by years of "almost made it". This book covers one of my favorite times. I worked at the big orange monstrosity called Arlington Stadium and suffered through 1975 with all the rest of the fans (and people who had to be at the fall games when the season was already over). Working for the Rangers for the three years before I moved away to go college, was the best job for a baseball loving Texas girl and provided me with memories of people, a time and a place never to be seen again. The Last Season brought it all back and made me laugh out loud.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Look Back at the Good Old Days, September 28, 2008
By 
Mark Stone (LaGrange Park, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
This book begins with a review of the 1974 Oakland-LA World Series. When Catfish Hunter leaves the three-time World Champion A's due to a contract technicality,author and beat-writer Shropshire writes about how his hometown Texas Rangers can be considered favorites to win the 1975 AL West.

Shropshire does a terrific job of weaving significant events outside of the baseball world that year with his own and the Rangers' escapades during what became a disappointing season for the Rangers.

This book brought back fond memories of teams that were built from strong minor league systems--A's, Reds, Royals, Dodgers, et.al. before the Free Agency era led to the destruction of fine organizations (Pirates, Reds, Royals) and the continued dominance of the large market teams.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last Real Season - gonzo baseball tale, February 8, 2012
This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
Today in major league baseball the use of steroids is rampant, while the average salary of even a journeyman ballplayer is half a million dollars. This has not always been the case. As recently as 1975, before the advent of free agency, the average professional baseball player salary in the majors was $27,600. Except for a handful of superstars, baseball players had other jobs or at least played in Latin America in the off-season to make ends meet.

Mike Shropshire, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports writer, recounts the highlights of the 1975 season in his personal journal as he follows the trials and tribulations of the Texas Rangers and their American League opponents.

Shropshire writes in a lighthearted gonzo style, where his antics are as much of the story as the events and the people he is covering. This cynical offhanded approach is incorporated with a tendency toward exaggeration, which is the want of many a sportswriter. What is clear is that players of that day and the journalists who covered them, drank to excess, smoked or chewed tobacco incessantly, and chased women with abandon. It would also appear that at least in the recent past, baseball was rife with more than their fair share of characters.

Shropshire's chronicle is not for the faint of heart, the politically correct or the prudish. But if you long for the day when booze was the drug of choice, and the ranks of baseball consisted of men like Ferguson Jenkins, Sparky Anderson, Reggie Jackson, Charlie Finley, and the irrepressible and mercurial Billy Martin - this may be the book for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect companion to Seasons in Hell, March 25, 2014
By 
Brian (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
Not only would I rate Seasons in Hell higher, it should also logically (in order of events) be read first. But even if you just read The Last Real Season, you'll enjoy it. Some fantastic stories in here...and if the details don't match anything on baseball-reference.com, don't worry. Would you survive the haze of this era and remember everything?

Speaking of the details (baseball a sport more focused on stats than any other) this book also puts more of a light on who's in first, who's making a move, so on. Don't worry, there's more than enough great anecdotes from 1975 in the book. For that it's worth the purchase.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A second act, February 26, 2014
By 
WDX2BB (New York State) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
Some stories deserve a sequel.

"Seasons in Hell" is one of them.

That was the title of a book Mike Shropshire wrote about his experiences covering the Texas Rangers, mostly in 1973-74. It's a noteworthy book in my mind for a couple of reasons.

1. It's as funny a book about baseball as you'll read anywhere. Heck, it might be as funny a book about anything you'll read anywhere.

2. After I posted a glowing review on a Web site, the author actually sent me an e-mail to thank me. I have received exactly one other letter from an author not known to me, and he wasn't too happy that his fill-in-the-colors book wasn't well received. Shropshire can't do too much wrong in my book after that.

So when "The Last Real Season" came along, I felt an obligation to get it.

Good thing too. There were plenty of more laughs to be obtained out of the mid-1970's Texas Rangers.

The 1975 season was something of an end of an era in major league baseball. The Messersmith/McNally decision was right around the corner, freeing the slaves better known as the players and making them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Oakland's dynasty was winding down, and Cincinnati was about to start a run as one of the best teams in history.

That didn't matter much in Dallas/Fort Worth, though. There the Rangers, teased by a promising 1974 season, were back in their usual spot -- looking up at more than half of the teams in the standings.

Shropshire covered those Rangers, who were enlivened for a while by the presence of manager Billy Martin. His act was starting to wear thin in Texas, as it always did eventually, but Martin always was capable of providing a good story on short notice.

Most of the book is about those Rangers. Shropshire has a good memory for the events of that year and the characters involved. That's a little surprising, considering the amount of alcohol he apparently consumed that season. Ah, the Seventies. A different time.

The rest of the baseball season, non-Rangers portions, is thrown in along the way. While Shropshire obviously paid attention to other teams, his main responsibility was the play of the Rangers. So there isn't much in the other-than-Texas parts that most won't know about.

Not a problem. There are more than enough laughs here to compensate for any weaknesses in that department. Maybe it's not quite as good as the original, but "The Last Real Season" definitely is worthwhile.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good book., January 24, 2013
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Good read. Well written. Stories about the way baseball used to be. Flows well and easy read. I am out of words to write.
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3.0 out of 5 stars NOT the Last Season, July 18, 2011
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This review is from: The Last Real Season: A Hilarious Look Back at 1975 - When Major Leaguers Made Peanuts, the Umpires Wore Red, and Billy Martin Terrorized Everyone (Hardcover)
The book is fine. But it centers on the 1975 Texas Rangers, not baseball in general. It is interesting to read about Billy Martin getting fired and then hired a couple of weeks later by the Yankees. But there are no inside looks at what baseball was like in its last season prior to free agency. Nor does it really discuss how baseball changed once free agency became an accepted part of the game.

If you want to read about the 1975 season of the Texas Ranger's, then this book is for you. But if you want to read about what baseball was like prior to free agency, then keep looking.
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