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Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life In the Minor Leagues of Baseball Hardcover – February 25, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 374 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The prolific and best-selling Feinstein here spends a year (the 2012 season) with the players and managers (and others) of the Triple A International League, the apex of minor-league baseball. But, as Feinstein makes clear both explicitly and with the telling detail and quote, it is a wholly different culture and a long way from the majors, which remains the dream of all ­participants—newcomers, those who have made it there previously (in a few cases as stars), and those who, in the course of a season, make the trip up and back, sometimes with astounding frequency. It is a frustrating experience, far from luxurious, and there is a sameness and a sadness to the individual lives. They are rivals rather than pals, all looking to go up, and the primary function of the teams is player development more than winning. As Feinstein’s focus is on a cross section of the league, including the Durham Bulls and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, rather than on a particular team, the book lacks the drama of, say, a pennant race. Like the players, Feinstein’s account has its ups and downs, but it is sure to interest true fans of the game. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Feinstein gets a level of marketing support and media attention unknown to most authors of sports books; his latest will be no exception. --Mark Levine


“[T]errific…[R]eading this book will make you fall in love with baseball all over again.”—The Denver Post

“One of the best sportswriters alive.”—USA Today
 “Feinstein’s work, like that of the best American sportswriters, is richly detailed and emotionally articulate...Feinstein's storytelling is compelling, his understanding of the structural cruelties and emotional consequences of winner-takes-all competition acute.”—The Guardian (UK)
“Feinstein takes readers down the dusty roads of minor league baseball with a vivid look at the players dreaming of a shot at the big leagues.”
“John Feinstein, one of our best-known sportswriters, explores…baseball’s International League, one of the two AAA leagues, just below the majors….With many of us counting down to opening day, this is a fitting time for a book whose subtitle might well be ‘hope springs eternal — every spring.’”
The Washington Post
“[P]oignant … [2013] marked the 25th anniversary of ‘Bull Durham,’ and I’m pretty sure a lot of people still think that's how things go in the minors. Mr. Feinstein clears the perspective on the realities of minor-league life so that the reader can move on from Nuke LaLoosh imagery. And for the average baseball fan, this is no minor accomplishment.”
The Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385535937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535939
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (374 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bonner '62 VINE VOICE on February 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I rarely give 5 start ratings and the one's I give are usually for outstanding examples of Historical research. Feinstein has once again done a masterful job of describing his subjects. His focus is AAA baseball, one (big) step below the majors. We see players with years in the majors trying to get one more shot and minor league "lifers" trying for a taste before they retire. We also hear from managers, umpires and even league executives. Fienstein is such a smooth writer he gives the reader a wealth of hard data and personal insights while making it all look easy. The book is facinating from beginning to end. Remember everyone there is a phone call from thje big time or a phone call away from being released or sent down a level. The tension is built into every player's life. Even if you aren't a big baseball fan you might like the book as a study of how men react under pressure and deal with success but mostly failure. Buy the book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Triple A baseball serves a lot of functions: training for young players to ready them for the majors; warehouse for a few extra guys who might make a difference at the end of the season; place for struggling players to rehab themselves and get a chance at the bigs; place for players who can't make the show but love the game too much to stop; entertainment for fans in second-string cities. Managers and umpires also get trained, warehoused, and disappointed in Triple A ball - and managers have a tough job because they never know from one day to the next who will be part of their squads.

Still, these players are better than all but a few hundred other people at playing professional ball.

John Feinstein spent a long season following a few players at different points in theire baseball trajectories, along with a few managers and an umpire. A lot of the stories are similar, with ups and downs and some happy and some less happy conclusions. The book is clearly pasted together from essays and articles, so there is repetition and overlap. Some of the through-lines are hard to follow as we jump around.

I would have liked more general information about Triple A life and a bit less about individual trajectories. But that's not the book Feinstein wrote. What he produced does give a good flavor of Triple A life and how guys get to the majors...or don't.

Not Feinstein's best, but his not-best is still worth a read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I grew up in Chicago and attended occasional Cubs games (Comiskey Park was no place for a father to take his daughter). In my thirties, I lived in Baltimore, and went to many ball games during a glorious era for the Orioles at Memorial Stadium, with Cal Ripkin,Jr., Jim Palmer, and my favorite, catcher Rick Dempsey. I also played Rotisserie (fantasy) baseball in the early days of USAStats, the owner of which was a co-worker at my law office. But, until reading Feinstein's book, I knew little about the minor leagues, and gave them little thought. So, I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is the chronicle of a year in Triple A ball, following the (literal) ups and downs of the player, managers, and umps who live in, or frequently pass through, the top minor league teams. I learned a lot about the role that MLB plays in overseeing what goes on in Triple A, and how the players there must be willing to change plans on a dime, because they can be playing in Allentown one minute, and on a plane to the Show the next, and back in Allentown hours or days later. Triple A is full of ambition, disappointment and heartbreak, and no one ever fully understands why certain players get called up and others rarely, or never, do. I loved this book, and will watch spring training and the upcoming baseball season with more attention to the movement of players to and from the majors, and more empathy for what they experience when coming up and going back down. I thank John Feinstein for this book. It has deepened my understanding of and appreciation for America's game considerably. Highly recommend for those who love the game and would like to learn more about what goes into making a major league player.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Author John Feinstein focuses on eight Triple A individuals--Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo, Norfolk Tides manager Ron Johnson, pitchers Chris Schwinden, Brett Tomko and Scott Elarton, outfielder Nate McLouth, designated hitter John Lindsey and umpire Mark Lollo--during the 2012 season in Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball.

Feinstein describes his book as being about "a handful of men who run the gamut of life in Triple A; men who have been stars and have fallen; men who have been rich and then far from rich; and men who have aspired to those heights and never reached them."

Feinstein writes that no one dreams of playing in Triple A, and virtually no one wants to be there. Most everyone believes he's just "one accident away" from getting called up to the major league club. Players come and go every day and teammates compete against each other for that coveted call-up spot. The player transactions are barely noticed by the regular baseball fans, but they have a tremendous impact on those involved.

Triple A is filled with players who are pushing back the inevitable end to the playing days. They are at a point in their careers where getting to the majors or returning to the majors isn't impossible, but it isn't likely.

Life in Triple A is often an emotional roller coaster. It is filled with uncertainly, heartaches, disappointments, hope and thrills. Hope is the key.

Toledo manager Phil Nevin says, "The worst part is releasing a player because you're killing his dream. Sometimes, the biggest favor you can do is tell a player 'it's time.' They don't want to hear it, but they need to hear it."

Feinstein writes that those in Triple A all have one thing in common--a love for the game.
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