Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts: Baseball Stars of the 1970s and 1980s Talk About the Game They Loved (Baseball Oral History Project) Hardcover – March 16, 2010
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Like Vincent's two previous oral history volumes, "It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts" isn't just welcome baseball reading--it's essential."
--Allen Barra, "Chicago Tribune"
About the Author
Fay Vincent is a former entertainment and business executive who served as the commissioner of baseball from 1989 to 1992. This volume is the third in a series drawn from his Baseball Oral History Project. The previous two volumes, The Only Game in Town and We Would Have Played for Nothing, include ballplayers’ reminiscences of the 1930s and 1940s, and the 1950s and 1960s, respectively.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Fay Vincent, the former baseball commissioner, has been part of an oral history project in association with the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's sat down with some important figures in the game's history in order to get first-person impressions of the events of their time.
Then, Vincent did a little editing of the transcripts, and put out books more or less grouped by era. "It's What Inside the Lines That Counts" is the third in the series. I haven't read the first two books, but my guess is that they worked a little better than this one. The third comes across as somewhat nondescript.
Vincent has chapters of conversations with 10 different people here. The list is a good one in terms of talent, including Tom Seaver, Willie McCovey, Don Baylor, umpire Bruce Froemming, Juan Marichal, Dick Williams, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and labor leader Marvin Miller.
The conversations are cleaned up a bit for the print version, but the transition isn't quite seemless. There are a couple of mistakes, such as calling Tommy Davis "Tony Davis" during the McCovey chapter, and the material jumps around a bit.
The quality of the material is rather spotty. Some interview subjects are bound to be better than others; the ones who draw in others and tell stories about famous incidents in their career do the best. Seaver comes across quite well here, as does Baylor. Ripken isn't shy, but his story has been told numerous times over the years and feels rather familiar. McCovey and Marichal both left me a little cold. Miller, by the way, might seem like a curious choice, but those who at least have a passing interest in off-the-field activities will enjoy his take on the rise of the Players' Association.
Vincent supplies the introductions to the chapters. He's rather enthusiastic about the game in person, and covers the bases in that format. It's a little difficult to tell how he does an interviewer, since this isn't presented in the classic Q&A format. But the stories, at least, move along well enough most of the time to make this an easy read, and he deserves credit for that.
It's easy to guess that this idea works better with older players with less familiar stories. And it certainly will have some value to researchers down the road. Still, judging "It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts" at the time it was written, it's easy to say there are better ways to get an education about baseball history from the 1970's and 1980's.
The players who were interviewed included Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, Don Baylor, Ozzie Smith & Cal Ripken, Jr; the former managers: Earl Weaver and Dick Williams; the umpire's perspective is provided by the somewhat self-absorbed Bruce Froemming, whose claim to fame is spoiling a potential perfect game by Chicago Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas on an apparent third strike non-call; and finally, we get to hear the perspective of Marvin Miller, although he doesn't have much to share of any real interst. His babble only reminds me why I didn't like him all those years ago.
Some of the stories are amusing; some are confusing. Suffice to say, this particular piece of recent baseball folklore won't threaten Lawrence Ritter's The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It (Harper Perennial Modern Classics), as a classic oral history of this great game.
If you're a diehard fan, you'll probably enjoy its essence, but don't expect a masterpiece.
The chapter subjects are Willie McCovey (Hall of Fame player)... Juan Marichal (Hall of Fame player)... Dick Williams (mediocre player, Hall of Fame manager)... Earl Weaver (Hall of Fame manager)... Tom Seaver (Hall of Fame player)... Don Baylor (player)... Ozzie Smith (Hall of Fame player)... Cal Ripken Jr. (Hall of Fame player)... Bruce Froemming (umpire)... Marvin Miller (union organizer). While it's impossible not to include a lot of interesting and inside stories... the writing/transcription is at times rambling and meandering. At other times the statements contradict themselves or seem to disconnect with no connecting point. Some examples: Willie McCovey states that in 1969 he "batted 320 fifth in the league"... and later in the same paragraph he states: "the only guy that had a higher batting average, I think, was Pete Rose." Juan Marichal says: "The guys you didn't want to see come to home plate were Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Tony Davis-I don't know if you remember Tony Davis before he broke his ankle. Man, he was awesome, what a hitter." REVIEWER'S CORRECTION: It wasn't Tony Davis... it was TOMMY DAVIS of the Los Angeles Dodgers who led the National League in hitting in 1962 and 1963. One minute Dick Williams is telling you how he "went to elementary school, about three blocks from Sportsman's Park in St. Louis"... and went to so many games... and then half-a-page later he says out of nowhere that he "graduated in 1947 and our commencement exercises were in the Rose Bowl." I must have re-read that half-page or so three times trying to figure out if I missed something or there was a different Rose Bowl than the one in Pasadena, California. Pages later he mentions he moved to California. In numerous other examples the editor's allowed the words to be transcribed as they must have been said... which does not shine brightly on the speakers... nor do justice to the reader.
If a potential reader is an old-school baseball fan and has accepted the shortcomings, there are tasty gems to be had. It's always enlightening and enjoyable to read about who the hero's of the hero's were... McCovey's was Jackie Robinson... Dick Williams's was Ducky Medwick (my Mom's favorite also)... Tom Seaver's was Sandy Koufax and Henry Aaron... Ozzie Smith's was Roberto Clemente... Cal Ripken's was Brooks Robinson. The common thread between all the ballplayers was their dedication to putting the work in that was necessary to achieve success. It's also interesting to know... to what... and to whom... they credit their eventual success to. Tom Seaver credits the United States Marines and Gil Hodges. Cal Ripken salutes the "Oriole Way" among other things.
Has the grand old game of baseball changed with each decade? I'll say! The two managers in this book Dick Williams and Earl Weaver both say they couldn't manage the way the game is today.