From Publishers Weekly
This saga of a six-team independent league in the North Central U.S. and Canada will delight diamond fans. Fatsis, a former AP reporter, here covers the 1994 season (the second) of the Northern League of Professional Baseball, begun by Miles Wolff, owner of the minor league Durham Bulls. The new league has teams in St. Paul, Duluth, Sioux Falls and Sioux City on this side of the border, plus Thunder Bay and Winnipeg in Canada. In its second year, the league drew almost a million fans, nearly 4000 a game. The team salary cap is $72,000, to insure that the people on the field will be motivated by their love of play. How the league will weather being raided by the majors remains to be seen, but Fatsis's affectionate story is an affirmation that the national pastime still has a strong hold on the heartland. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Baseball's minor-league renaissance and the bitter, recently settled major-league strike fomented a rash of books this spring extolling the virtues of minor-league ball. This may be the best of the lot. Journalist Fatsis profiles the independent Northern League. Brainchild of onetime minor-league whiz-kid Miles Wolff, the Northern is made up of teams with no major-league affiliation. Typically, the big club contracts players, pays them, and assigns them to their minor-league affiliates. Not so in the Northern League, which relies on players overlooked or released by major-league organizations. (Occasionally, one of these rejects, such as Oil Can Boyd or Pedro Guerrero, even makes the Big Show.) What differentiates Fatsis' look at the minors from similar treatments is his objective presentation of his subject. He doesn't mythologize the Northern: sure the owners love baseball, but they are also business folk who want to turn a profit. The players aren't presented as fuzzy-focus field-of-dreamers, either, the book jacket to the contrary. Some just like to play; some want a shot at the bigs; a few are exorcising their baseball demons; and a few are the baseball equivalent of ski bums. And then there's Ed Nottle, a career minor leaguer and now Sioux City manager. He made the decision long ago that baseball was his life. He stuck with it and has few regrets. It's worth reading this fine book if only to get to know Nottle, someone whose "just do it" credo led to satisfaction if not wealth. Wes Lukowsky