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Knocking on Heaven's Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream Paperback – September 24, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Marty Dobrow is a patient listener and sure-eyed observer as he sketches these portraits of a half-dozen people beguiled by baseball. The result is as lively, intimate, and engrossing a book as Hoop Dreams was a movie."―Alexander Wolff, senior writer, Sports Illustrated and author of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure



"The best account of the life of minor league baseball players I have read. The reader feels the despair of each player's struggles and the joys of their eventual successes, however brief they may be."―Jerome Mileur, former owner of the Harrisburg Senators and author of High-Flying Birds: The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals

"This book is definitely worth a read."―The Recorder

"Knocking on Heaven's Door is an insightful journey through the minors, providing access most of us will never have to future big leaguers."―Baseball America

"Dobrow does an excellent job telling the stories of each of the young players, and establishes their personalities, quirks and all, so we have an idea of what makes each man tick. . . . Marty Dowbrow's Knocking on Heaven's Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream is a book that all baseball fans will want to read, certainly in the summer, as the minor leaguers are working toward their dream, but perhaps even more so in the winter, during that long hibernation bwtween baseball seasons."―NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture

"Dobrow's first book is a beautifully written, meticulously orchestrated account of the families, common agents, notable triumphs, and devastating failures of half a dozen talented young men who want to play in the Major Leagues. A veteran sports writer, Dobrow reveals an insider's instinct, a high level of compassion, and finds the drama in the dream of "making it big."―Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Marty Dobrow is associate professor of journalism at Springfield College. He writes regularly on sports for the Boston Globe and other publications, and four of his pieces have earned recognition in Houghton Mifflin's Best American Sports Writing series.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (September 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558498435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558498433
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,453,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If Marty Dobrow's "Knocking on Heaven's Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream" was just about baseball, it would be just another boring, cliche-ridden book about the sport that appears daily in the columns of our newspapers and in the knee-jerk reactions of the commentators who popularize our websites. Loaded with enough about baseball to please even the most erudite and devoted afficianado, "Knocking on Heaven's Door" is also an interesting, insightful, thought-provoking comment on the state of contemporary American values. What we believe to be important and where we pin our hopes for the future. It's also very well written. Literary journalism as it was meant to be, it calls to mind the early, powerful work of writers such as Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, and Sara Davidson. The kind of effort that presents its metaphors so subtly that we're not always aware of them until long after we've finished reading, and they're still lingering in our minds' eyes. Buy it, read it, savor it, and pass it on to others.
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“Knocking on Heaven’s Door” is a deep, deft, delightful, descriptive and discerning book about the stories of six baseball prospects struggling to reach “The Show”. It reminds me of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe. Like Tom Wolfe, this book’s author, Marty Dobrow, often exhibits an uncanny ability to paint a picture of what the subjects are seeing and feeling. He uses this ability to tell of a journey he describes this way, “The hard slog through the minors rarely has a happy ending. Ninety percent of minor leaguers— young men who can hit the ball four hundred feet or throw it ninety-plus miles per hour— will never play a single inning in the big leagues. Sure, their life has a charm to it: summer nights in small towns, the fuzzy mascots, the tee-ballers leaning over the dugout for autographs, the halter-top hopefuls arriving from the local community college. But beneath the charm lurks tremendous pressure on the players and on their families who have latched on to the dream.” As he mentions in the acknowledgments, it’s a game where you’ve got to “play it like a man and love it like a boy”. His love for the game doesn’t keep him from reporting on some of its seductions. For example, the section on Rob Garibaldi and Taylor Hooton is worth the price of the book. One quibble is that he refers to “Home Run” Baker as George Baker. I haven’t been able to find any evidence that Frank Baker was ever called “George”. My main wish is that the author would have narrowed his focus. It almost requires a scorecard to track the large cast of characters across ten years and various stops, including Korea. I sometimes lost track and it diminished the power of the well-told stories to some degree. “Electric Kool-Aid” focused mainly on one journey, and I think this book would have been better if it had done the same. That aside, it definitely goes for extra bases.
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At first, I thought I might be biased because one of the six players covered is a former Red Sox pitcher from small-town Mass., but I was just as enthralled by the stories of the other five young men. As a person who like to steep himself in baseball all year-long, I thought I knew a lot about the game, but this book definitely opened my eyes to the stories, and in some cases, the underbelly and the heartache, that goes along with getting to the bigs. And not just for the players, but their agents, as well. It is certainly not an easy road, as is detailed here. All of the elements of baseball are covered, including performance-enhancing drug use, looking for that big contract, playing internationally and the pressures on home and family-life.

This is a definite recommendation for true baseball fans, but also for anyone interested in stories of real-life struggles. I can guarantee you will discover something new and interesting.
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Format: Paperback
What the novice baseball fan won't realize is that for the most part, the profiles in the book are about successful players who acheived a great deal in their careers as athletes. The novice fan only acknowledges established major league players as successful. This book brings to light many facts about the sport, like 90% of professional players never appear in a major league game and the rigors of playing the minors. There are a great many talented baseball players that for a litany of reasons and circumstances never made it to the majors. This book profiles a number of players that made it to the majors in a way that is far more typical than most people think.
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A really well-written look and the road from draft pick to the pros for baseball player. I learned a lot about the long road and poor odds for baseball draft picks to make it to the major leagues.
The book read like great non-fiction, following the lives and families of 5 0r 6 prospects. Dobrow has a great eye for detail when choosing anecdotes to paint a picture of the characters in the book, and the minor league life in general. Lots of humor too.
I would give this book to any friend who is remotely interested in sports.
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I'm a friend of Charlie Zink and a knuckleball fan, and this book gave me a real feel for what he went through to make it to the major leagues. The other stories here also have deep and fascinating insight on what life is like to climb the ladder--and maybe not make it--to the major leagues. It's just so darn hard and unpredictable... but it's just so darn fascinating.
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