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Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit Hardcover – February 19, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
While his professional baseball career lasted for just one summer, McCarthy still compiled enough incidents and anecdotes to make for an eye-opening read about the wildly unpredictable life of a minor-league ballplayer. Drafted in 2002 by the Anaheim Angels, the Yale-educated left-hander was eventually shipped off to the Angels rookie team in Provo, Utah, where he had to not only adjust to the grueling schedule of a professional athlete but also to the culture of a heavily Mormon town. McCarthy shatters the idea of a glamorous lifestyle in the minor leagues—from the agonizingly long bus rides to the never-ending meals in chain restaurants and minuscule paychecks. He also portrays the unflattering aspects of the game, be it the divide between the American and Hispanic players, or the constant inner struggle on whether to take performance-enhancing drugs. But there are plenty of humorous (and sometimes obscene) stories sprinkled in. All the while, McCarthy writes of his own personal struggles as a pitcher and the constant physical and mental strain he endured to keep alive the dream of one day making it to the major leagues. While the book sometimes reads like a journal (which he kept throughout the summer), McCarthy can be an effective storyteller. Its a pull-no-punches work that will give many baseball fans a glimpse into a part of baseball not seen on ESPNs SportsCenter. (Feb.)
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Much as Jim Bouton recorded life as a major leaguer with the 1969 Seattle Pilots in his classic Ball Four, so Matt McCarthy shares his life as a minor leaguer with the 2002 Los Angeles Angels’ Class A farm team in Provo, Utah. If McCarthy lacks Bouton’s immortal cast of characters, or his singular deadpan wit, he proves a sure-handed reporter in revealing the daily grind of a season, the unabashed racism among players (all Hispanics are simply called Dominicans by their white teammates), the lousy pay and living conditions, and the callous nature of this most zero-sum of professions. Baseball fans will likely recognize Joe Saunders, Bobby Jenks, and Prince Fielder—bona fide major-league stars who were teammates or competitors of the author. McCarthy’s professional baseball career might be forgettable but this account is not. --Alan Moores
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Matt McCarthy, in his own way, is a poor man's Hayhurst. His career only lasted one year, comprising of a stop in the lowest or the low league. His narration is breezy, and an honest look at his circumstance and his abilities. The hilarity does not reach the height of Hayhurst's adventure, and McCarthy's self examination is not as deep.
McCarthy finds himself in certain predicaments, such as when his girlfriend, who he has been pining for, and remaining faithful to for the better part of a season, flies in for a visit, only to announce that she is a born again, and has re-virginized herself.
For all the pain, fun and disappointment, McCarthy walks away from his career learning lessons from his career. Those of perseverence, of learning and accepting one's limitations, of laughing at one's own bizarre circumstance, and making decisions to play by honest means and accept the consequences, even while others around him are cheating.
I found myself wondering whether I would enjoy the experience of competing on a professional team, giving my all, even while I knew my talent would not carry me. I think I would make the same decisions as Mr. McCarthy.
Overall, the author portrays himself as a superior Ivy League hero forced to deal with inferior rednecks, Hispanics and Mormons in the uncharted Rocky Mountains. By his own descriptions he comes across as an insufferable elitist snob with an exalted opinion of himself, but without enough baseball talent to make the grade.
If you are looking for a good minor league baseball autobiography, I would recommend "The 33-Year-Old Rookie" by Chris Coste or the classic "A False Spring" by Pat Jordan.
The life of a minor leaguer isn't easy. Matt McCarthy takes us through one year in the minors -- his lone year in professional baseball -- in Provo, Utah. From getting drafted, to signing to playing ball in a Mormon community, he gives us a colorful look at what it's like to have this lifestyle and to push forward with the dream of playing Major League Baseball. From arguments on the team, to racial tensions, to religion and long bus rides, this book is a colorful look at the lifestyle.
I've seen the reviews that say some of the things can't be backed up, but I expect that in books like this as it would likely be near impossible to have every piece of info be dead-on. It's a long season and I'm sure details get meshed together into others, which can create some confusion.
Still, this book is an excellent read. I finished it over a couple of days and for baseball fans, this should be a quick and good read. McCarthy seems like a likable guy who isn't too far off many other minor leaguers. The big wads of chew in the lip, beer, girls in small towns, swearing and everything else is what it's like in many other minor league towns.
It's a good read and well worth the time, especially for a baseball fan.
Most recent customer reviews
Good writing is wasted on readers today. Why this book never made bestseller lists is beyond me.Read more