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Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit Hardcover – February 19, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (February 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020706
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,287,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a inside look at what it's like for an Ivy League graduate to try to blend in as one of the boys in a rookie league in the low minors in Mormon country. His teammates ranged from bonus babies to fringe draft choices. More than a few eventually made it to The Show. I got a kick out of Matt McCarthy's having to dumb himself down to be accepted, while maintaining his admittedly Yale-based superiority about religion and academics. He really puts you inside the clubhouse and on the team bus. The off-the-field adventures are hilarious.

McCarthy has come in for criticism from his team's veteran manager and some of the players who he describes have said they were not even on the same team with him that season. Even if some facts have been lost in the four or so years since he played, or names have been changed, this book is easy to read and very accurately captures the flavor of what it's like to try to make it to the majors. George Will could experience vicariously what he never would come close to in real life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dirk Hayhurst wrote one of the funniest, most telling, intelligent treatises of minor league baseball life I have ever read. Hayhurst was a career minor leaguer who had moved from the lowest rungs of the system up to AAA. He wrote of the hilarity, the joy of winning, even at the lowest levels, and the stomach churning nervousness at every level. The themes of loyalty, the difficulty of independence, and self belief are all explored in depth in this book, in this reviewer's opinion, one of the finest baseball stories ever written.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a great read, well written and expertly paced. Good enough that I Googled the author, his teammates, the Provo Angels, and other aspects of the memoir just to catch up and learn more of them 9 yrs later. I was dismayed to see the book slandered by the NY Times and alliterate bloggers for some negligible discrepancies. The entire memoir rings true and complements accurately the experiences of other low-minor leaguers recorded in previous memoirs (e.g., The Boys Who Would Be Cubs (1990; J. Bosco) and Minor Players, Major Dreams (1997; B.H. Mandel). I consider this the best MiLB memoir I've ever read and I favor the genre.
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Format: Hardcover
Matt McCarthy's autobio of his time in minor league baseball was quite entertaining and kept me interested in his and his team's exploits throughout. However, I was also left feeling incomplete. Characters could have been more deeply explored, the season covered more in depth, more, more, more. It was all just too superficial, but still managed to fill nearly 300 pages. It's a quick read that's great summer fare, just don't expect much depth to the story or character development. From Yalie to Angels minor league washout to med school intern, good luck Matt. I just hope you have greater appreciation for your skills as a doctor than as a baseball player; self-fulfilling propheses have a way of happening.
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Format: Hardcover
Having just finished Odd Man Out, A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, I can say that my only complaint is that I wish it were longer.

Matt McCarthy's stories of his year in the minors with the California Angels organization are rife with recognizable names, current major leaguers, who he spent time with as they, too, struggled to big leagues. But these aren't Sunday church picnic tales. I'm sure some of the players involved cringed when reading their own exploits told back to them in the voice of this long-forgotten teammate. I could only think, if these were the exploits he felt okay with publishing, one can only imagine what was edited out.

It is always a treat to read a well-written book about sports, and especially from an insider's perspective. If you are a fan of baseball at all, you will enjoy this book. Even those who aren't drawn to America's Pastime will find a compelling story and humorous anecdotes enough to satisfy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Matt McCarthy has written a lively and insightful memoir of his brief stint as a minor league pitcher for the Angels organization. He describes what it was like to leave Yale as a senior sign before going on to spend a little more than a season as a struggling minor league pitcher. His book gives the reader an insiders view of what the minors is like and is full of humorous anecdotes about his team mates. For those who enjoy humorous memoirs about the travails of minor league pitchers I would also recommend they pick up a copy of Dirk Hayhurt's, The Bullpen Gospels.
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