Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts: Baseball Stars of the 1970s and 1980s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project)
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on June 8, 2010
In a somewhat poorly edited and rambling series of interviews with some of baseball's biggest names from the '70s and '80s, Fay Vincent has compiled a "so-so" oral history that has been told many times before.

The players who were interviewed included Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, Don Baylor, Ozzie Smith & Cal Ripken, Jr; the former managers: Earl Weaver and Dick Williams; the umpire's perspective is provided by the somewhat self-absorbed Bruce Froemming, whose claim to fame is spoiling a potential perfect game by Chicago Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas on an apparent third strike non-call; and finally, we get to hear the perspective of Marvin Miller, although he doesn't have much to share of any real interst. His babble only reminds me why I didn't like him all those years ago.

Some of the stories are amusing; some are confusing. Suffice to say, this particular piece of recent baseball folklore won't threaten Lawrence Ritter's The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It (Harper Perennial Modern Classics), as a classic oral history of this great game.

If you're a diehard fan, you'll probably enjoy its essence, but don't expect a masterpiece.
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on March 24, 2010
This is the third installment of interviews transcribed to words with people from the baseball industry. Note: In addition to ballplayers this volume includes men whose fame came from managing not playing... an umpire... and a union organizer. Though the "author" says they "tried to faithfully record the comments of the interviewees, correcting minor grammatical mistakes and occasional errors caused by the inevitable lapses of memory after several decades"... the wordsmith's involved did not do near as good a job as they did in the prior volume "WE WOULD HAVE PLAYED FOR NOTHING" which was a classic.

The chapter subjects are Willie McCovey (Hall of Fame player)... Juan Marichal (Hall of Fame player)... Dick Williams (mediocre player, Hall of Fame manager)... Earl Weaver (Hall of Fame manager)... Tom Seaver (Hall of Fame player)... Don Baylor (player)... Ozzie Smith (Hall of Fame player)... Cal Ripken Jr. (Hall of Fame player)... Bruce Froemming (umpire)... Marvin Miller (union organizer). While it's impossible not to include a lot of interesting and inside stories... the writing/transcription is at times rambling and meandering. At other times the statements contradict themselves or seem to disconnect with no connecting point. Some examples: Willie McCovey states that in 1969 he "batted 320 fifth in the league"... and later in the same paragraph he states: "the only guy that had a higher batting average, I think, was Pete Rose." Juan Marichal says: "The guys you didn't want to see come to home plate were Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Tony Davis-I don't know if you remember Tony Davis before he broke his ankle. Man, he was awesome, what a hitter." REVIEWER'S CORRECTION: It wasn't Tony Davis... it was TOMMY DAVIS of the Los Angeles Dodgers who led the National League in hitting in 1962 and 1963. One minute Dick Williams is telling you how he "went to elementary school, about three blocks from Sportsman's Park in St. Louis"... and went to so many games... and then half-a-page later he says out of nowhere that he "graduated in 1947 and our commencement exercises were in the Rose Bowl." I must have re-read that half-page or so three times trying to figure out if I missed something or there was a different Rose Bowl than the one in Pasadena, California. Pages later he mentions he moved to California. In numerous other examples the editor's allowed the words to be transcribed as they must have been said... which does not shine brightly on the speakers... nor do justice to the reader.

If a potential reader is an old-school baseball fan and has accepted the shortcomings, there are tasty gems to be had. It's always enlightening and enjoyable to read about who the hero's of the hero's were... McCovey's was Jackie Robinson... Dick Williams's was Ducky Medwick (my Mom's favorite also)... Tom Seaver's was Sandy Koufax and Henry Aaron... Ozzie Smith's was Roberto Clemente... Cal Ripken's was Brooks Robinson. The common thread between all the ballplayers was their dedication to putting the work in that was necessary to achieve success. It's also interesting to know... to what... and to whom... they credit their eventual success to. Tom Seaver credits the United States Marines and Gil Hodges. Cal Ripken salutes the "Oriole Way" among other things.

Has the grand old game of baseball changed with each decade? I'll say! The two managers in this book Dick Williams and Earl Weaver both say they couldn't manage the way the game is today.
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on February 18, 2011
THIS IS A NICE READ FROM FAY VINCENT FORMER COMMISIONER OF BASEBALL. SOME OF THE PLAYERS INTERVIEWED ARE MARICHAL, MCCOVEY, SEAVER AND RIPKEN. ALL WERE GREAT AND HAD INTERESTING THINGS TO TELL. FOR ME THE ONES THAT STOOD OUT WERE UMPIRE BRUCE FROEMMING AND UNION LEADER MARVIN MILLER. THIS DOES NOT HOLD UP TO THE OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES AS WAS SAID IN ANOTHER REVIEW. IT IS A NICE BOOK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER. I DO RECOMMEND IT FOR FANS WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH BASEBALL FROM THE 70'S TO THE 90'S.
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on August 1, 2010
Another "in the words of" book but this is REALLY an "in the words of" book - it feels like those words were taken directly from the transcripts with NO editing whatsoever; after a while, I expected even more "um's" and "I don't know's" - I don't expect perfect prose and writing but at least make it bearable to read - I stopped reading halfway through the book because the plodding style of writing - or lack thereof - made it too difficult to enjoy. I view Fay Vincent in the same light as Jimmy Carter - a man whose time in office was nondescript and who is now attempting to enhance his legacy with his work after the fact; I don't believe either will succeed.
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on April 28, 2010
"The heroes and the stories of baseball in the 1970's and 1980's as told to the former commissioner of baseball Fay Vincent by the stars themselves - Seaver, Weaver, Williams, Marichal, McCovey, Baylor, Smith and Ripken. This is the third volume in the Baseball Oral History Project covering the 1930's through the 1980's."
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on December 28, 2015
Call this the third of a three-game series.

Fay Vincent, the former baseball commissioner, has been part of an oral history project in association with the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's sat down with some important figures in the game's history in order to get first-person impressions of the events of their time.

Then, Vincent did a little editing of the transcripts, and put out books more or less grouped by era. "It's What Inside the Lines That Counts" is the third in the series. I haven't read the first two books, but my guess is that they worked a little better than this one. The third comes across as somewhat nondescript.

Vincent has chapters of conversations with 10 different people here. The list is a good one in terms of talent, including Tom Seaver, Willie McCovey, Don Baylor, umpire Bruce Froemming, Juan Marichal, Dick Williams, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and labor leader Marvin Miller.

The conversations are cleaned up a bit for the print version, but the transition isn't quite seemless. There are a couple of mistakes, such as calling Tommy Davis "Tony Davis" during the McCovey chapter, and the material jumps around a bit.

The quality of the material is rather spotty. Some interview subjects are bound to be better than others; the ones who draw in others and tell stories about famous incidents in their career do the best. Seaver comes across quite well here, as does Baylor. Ripken isn't shy, but his story has been told numerous times over the years and feels rather familiar. McCovey and Marichal both left me a little cold. Miller, by the way, might seem like a curious choice, but those who at least have a passing interest in off-the-field activities will enjoy his take on the rise of the Players' Association.

Vincent supplies the introductions to the chapters. He's rather enthusiastic about the game in person, and covers the bases in that format. It's a little difficult to tell how he does an interviewer, since this isn't presented in the classic Q&A format. But the stories, at least, move along well enough most of the time to make this an easy read, and he deserves credit for that.

It's easy to guess that this idea works better with older players with less familiar stories. And it certainly will have some value to researchers down the road. Still, judging "It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts" at the time it was written, it's easy to say there are better ways to get an education about baseball history from the 1970's and 1980's.
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on May 5, 2013
Maybe times are less turbulent, but I haven't enjoyed this one as much as Fay Vincent's other books about earlier baseball. I hope he does another for the 1990's and 2000's. It would complete the set.
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