The Long Season

The Long SeasonWhat a fabulous baseball book Well written, insightful, thoughtful, and down to earth To think that it was written about a season close to 60 years ago is amazing to me, as it still rings modern We can set aside the contractual issues over 20,000 a year, and no agents, and a few other things, but the core of the game comes to light Brosnan put together a great diary that ranks up there with the best diaries of any subject I would add that those looking for the kind of story that Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four won t find it in this book Brosnan s story is less salacious but no less honest. I had a baseball card of Jim Brosnan in a Cincinnati Reds uniform He was a spectacled fellow with horn rim glasses His teammates called him the professor He was always talking about words and their meanings Turns out he was a fair baseball pitcher and a pretty good writer He starts the season with the St Louis Cardinals and is eventually traded to the Reds This book is his diary of the 1959 baseball season and paints a very realistic picture of what it was to be a ball player in that era Bros was both a starter and a reliever and did better with the Red Legs than the Cards You get a lot of insight on how pitchers throw against the batters of that time The San Francisco Giants were playing in Seal Stadium a minor league park, awaiting the opening of Candle stick Brosnan s manager with the Cards was not only a player coach but had some racist tendencies Several years later, Brosnan writes a second book chronicling a pennant season with the Reds I plan to read that. Ah, the pernicious persistence of preconceived notions whether because of Ted Williams famously ventilated dicta regarding the stupidity of Major League pitchers, or from being exposed to BULL DURHAM at an impressionable age, I have always found myself surprised to find that my favorite Baseball memoirs have been written by pitchers rather than catchers Satchel Paige, Jim Bouton, and especially Bill Spaceman Lee have written the memoirs that have drawn me closest into the mysteries of the National Passed Time to that list add the progenitor of the modern Baseball memoir, Jim Brosnan There is a definite progression from Brosnan to Bouton to Lee all were journeymen pitchers who exposed facets of the Game that the Powers That Were were uncomfortable having revealed the references to sex, drugs, and the stupidity of management become pronounced from Brosnan, writing in the early sixties, to Bouton, writing in the early seventies, to Lee, writing in the eighties and nineties Brosnan is probably the most talented writer of the three, Lee the most entertaining Over the past few decades it has become increasingly commonplace for sanctimonious pricks such as George Will to opine that Baseball belongs to the fans The great value of these memoirs is that they make the case that Baseball belongs every bit as much to the men who play the games, the men to whom the games are in fact their lives as well as livelihood Also, I particularly enjoyed the fact that Brosnan s wife always addresses him as Meat , which I find to be wonderfully endearing Only 3 1 2 months to Spring Training I was torn whether to rate this as a 2 or a 3 It is definitely an interesting look into mid 20th century baseball, from an insider s perspective, but it often gets bogged down in unnecessary details What I found most surprising was the way that baseball was portrayed as a fairly unathletic endeavor Most of the players are concerned with chewing tobacco, drinking, and fooling around There rarely any instances where players exercise or train In the end though, I found myself struggling to finish this book, but I think if it were shortened and written less like a diary it would be a compelling read. I know a lot of people love this book but I couldn t stand the author s odd writing style Didn t finish. Catchers, of course have underdeveloped brains or they would never have chosen that particular job, but X rays of their heads would probably be useless Masochists are what they are A man must love to get banged up if he deliberately chooses to be a catcher Insightful at times and a fun book, an obvious precursor to Ball Four Unlike Bouton who I think really was a social outcast Brosnan comes across as cerebral for a baseball player but still personable, and without a ghostwriter or an ax to grind.SI listed this at 19 on their Top 100 Sports Book of All Time list A little high. Just not very interesting. The Classic Inside Account Of A Baseball Year By A Major League Pitcher It Begins, Appropriately, With The Winter Doldrums And Sweating Out A New Contract, Then Follows The Author And His Family To Spring Training In Florida And Through The Full Season S Schedule To October One Of The Best Baseball Books Ever Written It Is Probably One Of The Best American Diaries As Well New York Times Book Review The Greatest Baseball Book Ever Written Jimmy Cannon OK, I m biased.I first read this book when I was 12 or so, a couple years after the Giants had relocated to San Francisco Back then, the NFL was an afterthought and baseball was truly the national pastime.I subscribed to The Sporting News, Baseball Digest and anything else I could find, and I gobbled up the stories of the heroic individuals who played baseball They were noble athletes, striving to win games despite the cost to their bodies, and they were true exemplars of American manhood.Then I read The Long Season And re read it And re read it Many, many times It was funny, well written, revelatory and made me feel like I understood the reality of major league baseball and the men who played it As it turned out, The Long Season wasn t quite as realistic as all that I had to wait for Ball Four to learn the truth So after being forced to pack up books to get new carpet, I came across a copy of The Long Season, the book, and decided I needed to read it again It was just as good The Long Season is essentially a diary of the 1959 baseball season by a journeyman pitcher named Jim Brosnan He was 29 years old and played for the St Louis Cardinals.The book begins with his contract negotiations, which are far, far different than today s Players were tied to a team in perpetuity, unless the team released them, and there was no such thing as arbitration or free agency Players took what was given, and negotiated with experienced businessmen without the aid of agents.Baseball players were still well paid in today s dollars, Brosnan made about 150,000 but most worked in the offseason, which partly explains the length of spring training Few players had been to college, as myriads of minor leagues sucked up teenagers and put them on the field Brosnan, for example, was signed at age 17 and threw 228 innings that season Yes, it was a different world So Brosnan, who smoked a pipe and read books, brought his cynical and sometimes dyspeptic world view to the world of professional baseball in 1959, and the book opened the eyes of fans to what the game business was really like Naturally, many were offended not the least the owners by his candor, and thought that revealing baseball players were actually human beings would damage the sport.Now it must be said that having been a baseball fan at the time makes the book fun to read, because I have hazy memories of many of the players mentioned, so it s possible that a younger reader would be less interested, but Brosnan is an excellent writer and his wit and humor shine through.And of course, those who might wonder how the game was different 60 years ago will find the book fascinating There were doubleheaders, real back to back doubleheaders, and a lot of them Players shared rooms on the road, and there were no charter flights Air conditioned clubhouses in St Louis in the summer Not happening And since people are people and baseball is baseball, there s much that hasn t changed And neither has my high opinion on The Long Season, which may have had to do with my lifelong love of sports than any other book I ever read. Very entertaining behind the scenes look at the 1959 baseball season written by a middling relief pitcher named Jim Brosnan Brosnan sounds to me like a cross between Ring Lardner and the back of a bubble gum card, if the bubble gum card were being used as a book mark inside a volume of Twain It s less about scores and all the usual Joe Shlobotnik Story stuff than it is about the way players look at the world, spend their time, and experience the ups and downs of their profession which is surprisingly like most jobs, except that thousands of people cheer or boo you while you re doing it There are good bosses and bad, enjoyable co workers and not so much all the types we all know and deal with, except these wear spiked shoes Because the book was written at the end of the 1950 s, some of the stuff that was par for the course then jars now, like the endless drinking and the casual racism Nonetheless, it s a good read, especially if you are old enough and baseball fan enough to remember the players who turn up in this book It s a bygone era presented without the usual soft focus.

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  • Paperback
  • 268 pages
  • The Long Season
  • Jim Brosnan
  • English
  • 10 February 2019
  • 9781566634182

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