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Away Games: The Life and Times of a Latin Ballplayer Hardcover – April 6, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Miguel Tejada is a talented shortstop in the Oakland Athletics organization. Tejada grew up very poor in the Dominican Republic and started playing baseball as a means of entertainment and escape. At age 17, he signed a contract (which he couldn't really read) with the A's for a mere $2,000, eventually working his way through the minors to earn a shot at the big-league club. As Away Games illustrates, Tejada is one of the lucky ones. "The Dominican is representative of the roots of Latin baseball, a game in which the stakes have always been higher, success more meaningful, and failure more painful--a brand of baseball that makes the word 'pastime' seem trivial." Indeed, it's a tough road for Latin baseball players trying to make it to the major leagues. For many of them, baseball is a chance to evade a lifetime of poverty and Third World conditions not present in the United States (although those lucky enough to go pro also face significant language and cultural barriers once they head north); Away Games presents them as more than just gifted players who hit the jackpot. --Andy Boynton

From Kirkus Reviews

A clutch hit revealing the miseria (misery) of the impoverished, lonely, and disdained Latino baseball players, both before and after the two percent of prospects get a chance in the grandes ligas (big leagues). Bretn and photographer Villegas work for the Sacramento Bee in California and were in a good position to follow the rise of Oakland As prospect Miguel Tejada, whose dramatic story begins and ends the book. Only Sally Struthers is missing from the picture of abject poverty that first locates teenage Tejada in the bleak barrio of Los Barrancones in the Dominican Republic. This account speaks volumes about the desperate aspirations of the young Latin athletes who strive to escape from the Third World . . . from a mind-set of poverty, and then have to compete at the highest level of professional sports while learning a foreign language. The language-cultural barrier offers great moments of comic relief: Venezuelan Chico Carrasquel nearly starts a riot telling a waitress he needs a f___ (when he means fork); Vic Power (really Victor Pellot of Puerto Rico) responds to the icy phrase Sorry, we dont serve colored people here with OK, I dont eat colored people. Less funny are incidents like Orlando Cepeda facing signs that read Speak EnglishYoure in America and former MVP Zoilo Versalles dying penniless. Tejada is signed to the Athletics for a mere $2,000. From the first Latin superstar, Cuban Minnie Minoso, to Dominican slugger Sammy Sosa, this book has all the stats and lineup cards to document how hard the climb to the top has been for Latino players, but by the 1997 All-Star game no fewer than fifteen Latins had been selected. This is an important and well-told story in baseball, which may well foretell a future where the pro rosters are dominated by these talented and hungry young escapees from the barrio. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684849917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684849911
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,869,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marilyn J. Commins on October 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book if you are a MLB fan.It tells about the lives of many Latin players before they made it to the big leagues. Poignant and revealing .It makes one think differently about the game, the inequities and the players journeys through the process of making it in America.I suggest for any one interested in who the players are and how they got to major leagues.Makes the game(s) more interesting as you watch knowing how the game of baseball changed their lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Being a baseball fan since Orlando Cepeda led the Cardinals over Yaz's 1967 Red Sox, I thought I was well versed about the history of minorities in major league baseball. (The Jackie Robinson story became gospel in my house.) After reading "Away Games," I had to eat some humble pie. The sports pages, which I read cover-to-cover as a youth, never made mention on how the Clementes, Tiants, and Marchials made it to the majors. Authors Marcos Breton and Jose Luis Villegas provide that missing story. "Away Games" is about how major baseball exploits young Latino men in the same way that the film "Hoop Dreams" documented basketball's exploitation of inner city black youth. Breton and Villegas elaborate on how the baseball establishment entices Dominicans into their camps and then uses them like throw away parts. I only wish the authors would have kept their focus on Miguel Tejada- "the star" of the book- rather than flip-flopping between his "life and times" with the history of Latino baseball players. (Actually, there are two books in one here- Tejada's baseball journey and the history of major league baseball in the Caribbean.) Far from being an enjoyable book, "Away Games" is often painful to read especially for gung-ho baseball fans; however, it should be included right next to the censored sports page as we're implored to "root, root for the home team."
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Format: Paperback
I was a fan of shortstop Miguel Tejada before I read this book and was overjoyed when he won the AL MVP honors this past year. The book opened my eyes to the incredible struggle and long odds that Dominican players - or any Latin players - face to make it in the major leagues. It makes Tejada's accomplishment seem that much more amazing and important to me. His story is interwoven with a lot of baseball history that I would not have otherwise known, and it is one that kids my age and up (8th grade) would enjoy because it makes you think.
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Format: Hardcover
Away Games by Marcos Breton is an insightful look at the struggles of Dominican players trying to reach the major leagues. Breton captures a lot of generally unknown history of the Latino ball player in the majors and tells his story through the eyes of Miguel Tejada, the now successful shortstop of the Oakland A's. This is by no means a great tale that will tug at your heartstrings. Instead, what you'll get is a look at a misunderstood population of young men, mostly from extreme poverty, and their unfavorable plight in trying to reach the "Show." If you're a hard core baseball fan, you'll like this book
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Format: Hardcover
Breton and Villegas make the case that Latin ballplayers are exploited and then, in the overwhelming majority of cases, tossed away by major league teams. Miguel Tejada was one of those who, it turned out, wasn't just cheap filler for an organization's minor league chain, but instead broke through to the majors. This surprised the A's organization which originally ranked him below other Dominicans who have since faded and returned to island obscurity or the life of an undocumented alien in New York City. Unfortunately, the author's case is buried by some truly stilted prose in a narrative that wanders all over the map without giving Tejada himself much more life in the book than as a paradigm for the author's argument. I happen to know already a fair amount about Latin ballplayers so this book brought me neither increased insight into them as a group or to Tejada as an individual.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love baseball, want to know all about the game and players. This book tells the story of the Latin Players, the conditions they grew up in, their determination to play Major League Baseball and their journey in their pursuit, Anyone who is a die hard baseball fan will really enjoy and learn a lot about the game by reading this book.
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