by Brett H. Mandel
Summary: Former high school ballplayer Brett Mandel yearned to experience a year in the minor leagues, so he convinced the Ogden (Utah) Raptors, about to embark on their maiden season, to let him chronicle that season from the perspective of a uniformed player. They agreed. The resulting saga describes the long bus rides, the bad food, the frustrations, and hopes that are all a part of baseball dreaming with affectionate good humor. The book’s true life, though, steps up in the poignancy with which Mandel draws his teammates, young men destined for the most part to fall short of their great desire. As a player, Mandel went 0 for 5 on the year, proving that the pen, long deemed mightier than the sword, can be mightier than the bat, as well.
Joe’s Remarks: What a wonderful book! I picked this one up, and it stayed in my stack of books to read for about 6 months. That was a mistake – I should have read it first. This is a great book if you’re a fan of baseball, particularly if you’re a fan of minor league baseball. This tells the story of Brett’s year with the Ogden Raptors in 1994 from the start to the end of the season. Brett’s writing style is very easy to read. I tend to do most of my reading before going to bed at night, which usually means I can take several sessions to actually finish a book, as I did with this one. Most books suffer from when you pick them up again, it’s not that easy to jump right in where you left off. This one does not have that. For me, it lent itself great to reading it in chunks. Brett was on the Raptors for a whole year, and this book is his recollection of the travels, details, and behind the scenes things most people will never hear about. Check this out – this book has nothing to do with the Texas Rangers, but it’s a great GREAT baseball book!
As an added bonus, I met the author in 1999 when Lynn & I went to Baltimore to see the Rangers play there. Brett and some friends were coming back from Cooperstown for the HOF induction ceremony, and were in Baltimore to see the Orioles play. He himself told me about the book, and we had a few moments talking about the Phillies, as we’re both from there. I wish I would have already read the book at this point, but Brett was a great guy to meet in person, too!
Update Feb 2012: I haven’t read this book in many years, but the memories of it are strong, and the fact that we ran into the author randomly was also pretty fun. I still have the book, need to check it out again. As I said above, very enjoyable, even if it has nothing to do with the Rangers.