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Waterloo Diamonds Hardcover – June, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Only a fraction of minor league baseball players ever make it to the major leagues. The trip starts in places like Waterloo, Iowa, a town of "working-class and poor," that is the home of the Waterloo Diamonds, a San Diego Padres farm team in the Class A Midwest League. Freelance writer Panek here takes us through the 1992 season, on the field and off, in a city in trouble. Industry has deserted Waterloo; the Diamonds, on the other hand, are a franchise worth about $1 million, and the team brings some $2.495 million into the local economy. City and team need each other to survive, and each is wary of the consequences if the other fails. The team comprises players who aren't likely to be recruited into the major leagues; they are "battle fodder," i.e., players kept on the job so the talented few will have someone to compete with. There are only a handful of prospects this season: Cameron Cairncross, an Australian with a live fastball; Jason Hardtke, a second baseman and all-star; and pitcher Robbie Beckett, a former first-round draft pick with good stuff, if no control. Panek concentrates on the business of minor league baseball, how it flourished into big business in the 1980s, and how it now virtually blackmails municipalities into underwriting it. This is a gritty and unsentimental portrait of the bush leagues.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
I find that I must agree with the other five-star reviewers here. Thank you, Mr. Panek, for a fine book.
I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. However despite almost 20 years old, this book remains relevant and an entertaining read.
It goes into the hopelessness of the situation and compares teams in other cities in the league which is helpful. The most hardcore fans of baseball and residents of Waterloo will find this interesting. It mentions some known players in passing but the players that are the main focus do not appear to have advanced very far in organized baseball. No pictures and no index.
Field of Dreams and Bull Durham mentioned. Swearing through out.
This is an engrossing, behind the scenes look at a minor-league team struggling to survive in a city that had "pro ball" for 95 years. I found it to be a real page-turner, in the sense that I was rooting for the town of Waterloo to hold on to their piece of the Major Leagues (by the way - the Minor Leagues are "pro-ball", in case you didn't know - I didn't!).
I must confess I could not take the suspense, and searched on Google to see if Waterloo still had a minor-league franchise.
It also provides a great look at the life of a minor-leaguer in the early 90's - gritty Bull Durham style!