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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Brosnan dies at 84

Before there was Ball Four, there was The Long Season, and Jim Brosnan.

Bruce Markusen Posted: July 03, 2014 at 08:26 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4743011)
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4743021)
I was living in NYC in 1969 during the Mets miracle and there was a very audacious magazine called "Jock" which, unfortunately, only lasted 8 issues. Anyway, in their first edition there was an excellent piece by Brosnan about the 69 Mets.
Wish I would have saved it
   3. rr Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4743023)
RIP

I have spoken many times about Brosnan here; The Long Season and Pennant Race are both excellent.
   4. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4743031)
I've never read The Long Season. I read Ball Four and a LOT of other baseball books but I've always thought that given its age it might not appeal to me since it will seem tame. Is it still worth picking up?
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:34 PM (#4743039)
I've never read The Long Season. I read Ball Four and a LOT of other baseball books but I've always thought that given its age it might not appeal to me since it will seem tame. Is it still worth picking up?

in the same sense that, if you've never seen "Citizen Kane", it's worth watching, even if it's been far surpassed since
   6. SandyRiver Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:35 PM (#4743041)
I've probably read my very dog-eared copy of The Long Season twenty times since buying it in about 1961. It lacks the sharp edges of Ball Four, but its understated humor is just how I like it, and his descriptions of bullpen life are especially great. Also, his (mainly) tongue-in-cheek vocabulary at the beginning is worth the book's price in itself.

The article noted a copy of The Long Season that morphed into Pennant Race. The only copy of the latter I've ever seen ended abruptly on (I think) August 2 - wonder if the two messy editions are related.
   7. rr Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4743051)
Is it still worth picking up?


Brosnan is a better writer than Bouton IMO; skilled with language and observation and with a wry sense of humor. Bouton has those things as well, but Brosnan was more an intellectual type about it without being stuffy (his nickname was "Professor"). The book is definitely PG--no "beaver shooting", although there are some suggestions about that stuff (moreso in Pennant Race). Brosnan does a great job of evoking the time and place, with things like Brosnan's description of his contract negotiations (he signs for $18,500), talking about being in segregated Charleston before training camp, having martinis and steaks with his wife and another couple, giving up a long HR to Dick Stuart, hanging out in the clubhouse with Stan Musial, a mildly tense conversation about jazz music and race with a black pitcher on the Reds, etc.

If you are interested in what it was like to be a guy playing MLB in 1959, written by a guy who later wrote stuff for outfits like
National Review, you will like it.

   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:20 PM (#4743062)
The article noted a copy of The Long Season that morphed into Pennant Race. The only copy of the latter I've ever seen ended abruptly on (I think) August 2 - wonder if the two messy editions are related.


Pennant Race
ends on the night the Reds clinched the pennant. He wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on the Series, but it wasn't included in the book. As a Reds fan who wasn't around for the 1961 season, this book is a godsend. It really lets one feel what the 1961 Reds were like, going from a team that at first was happy to be doing much better than anticipated, to one that was convinced it could win. And if you want a testament to Frank Robinson's qualities as both a baseball player and a leader, this is it. The Long Season is better book, I'm sure, but as a Reds fan, I love Pennant Race.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4743065)
and, like Bouton, Brosnan got an inordinate amount of shit for each book from his fellow players. And, a lot of it was along the lines of "who is this scrubbeenie pitcher writing about baseball?" rather than commenting on the content itself. As Bouton said "you're only as smart as your ERA"
   10. pthomas Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:26 PM (#4743067)
I have both of these books, and remember reading them as a teenager in the 60's, before Ball Four came out. It was the first glimpse I had of baseball being a job, filled with real people living their lives, and I grew up a bit reading it. Very well written, very interesting.

When Ball Four came out I was 17, and discovered that baseball players were real people living real lives, and I grew up a lot after reading it!

   11. Bruce Markusen Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4743068)
I like Bouton's book better than Brosnan's, but both are classics and both should be read by anyone who considers themselves a fan of baseball history. Bouton was helped by Leonard Schecter, a well-respected writer in his day, while Brosnan basically wrote his book on his own, which is pretty impressive for a guy who had spent most of the past decade playing the game as opposed to writing it.

I don't think you can go wrong with either Brosnan or Bouton. Both great.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4743069)
I've never read The Long Season. I read Ball Four and a LOT of other baseball books but I've always thought that given its age it might not appeal to me since it will seem tame. Is it still worth picking up?

If you're interested in an inside look at a baseball clubhouse ten years before Ball Four, it most definitely is. And unlike Bouton, Brosnan wrote the whole thing himself without any "and Leonard Schecter" on the cover.

EDIT: coke to Bruce, and I agree that Ball Four is also terrific.

-----------------------------------------

If you are interested in what it was like to be a guy playing MLB in 1959, written by a guy who later wrote stuff for outfits like National Review, you will like it.

In fairness to Brosnan, when he wrote for National Review, it was about wine, not politics. The overall literary quality of that magazine under Buckley was about a hundred times higher than it is today, Jason's baseball writing excepted.

-----------------------------------------

Pennant Race ends on the night the Reds clinched the pennant. He wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on the Series, but it wasn't included in the book. As a Reds fan who wasn't around for the 1961 season, this book is a godsend. It really lets one feel what the 1961 Reds were like, going from a team that at first was happy to be doing much better than anticipated, to one that was convinced it could win. And if you want a testament to Frank Robinson's qualities as both a baseball player and a leader, this is it. The Long Season is better book, I'm sure, but as a Reds fan, I love Pennant Race.

I also liked Pennant Race even more than The Long Season, but the main thing I recall about that SI article was the photo of Brosnan lying on the mound grabbing his crotch, after he'd had his cup broken with a line drive. IIRC he wrote about it with fairly good humor.

Trivia bit about the '61 Reds: From 1960 to 1961, the Reds and the Pirates switched positions, going from 6th to 1st and vice versa.

   13. rr Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:49 PM (#4743077)
Andy,

I was referring to NR in terms of style, not ideology.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 04, 2014 at 12:01 AM (#4743082)
Thanks. I'll add it to the list.
   15. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: July 04, 2014 at 01:45 AM (#4743102)
Wrong thread
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:01 AM (#4743131)
Andy,

I was referring to NR in terms of style, not ideology.


Fair enough, but far more people here who've never read NR would associate it with right wing politics than with Jason's erudite baseball writing, and I doubt if anyone here other than Y. Truly has a clue as to what NR's writing was like back when Brosnan was contributing to it.

All that aside, here's a much longer obit of Brosnan from today's Times.

Jim Brosnan, a Reliever Who Brought New Perspective to Baseball Writing, Dies at 84
   17. SandyRiver Posted: July 04, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4743138)
I also liked Pennant Race even more than The Long Season, but the main thing I recall about that SI article was the photo of Brosnan lying on the mound grabbing his crotch, after he'd had his cup broken with a line drive. IIRC he wrote about it with fairly good humor.


hat vignette also shows up in The Long Season, ending with, "That broken cup is among my most treasured mementoes."
   18. winnipegwhip Posted: July 04, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4743145)
Has anyone ever read Pat Jordan's "A False Spring"? It was another book which I found similar to those mentioned and I thoroughly enjoyed.
   19. just plain joe Posted: July 04, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4743154)
Has anyone ever read Pat Jordan's "A False Spring"? It was another book which I found similar to those mentioned and I thoroughly enjoyed.


I have read "A False Spring", although it was a good number of years ago. For me the thing that made this book interesting, along with Brosnan's and Bouton's work, is that the author(s) are willing to describe their failures as well as their successes. Too many authors either never mention when things go wrong, or just gloss over them. I think this quality makes for a more interesting read and helps us realize that athletes (or whomever) are human and are subject to the same doubts and fears as the rest of us. Somewhere I have paperback copies of "The Long Season" and "Pennant Race" and I need to find them and read them again. RIP Jim Brosnan.
   20. baxter Posted: July 04, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4743244)
Nicknames I hadn't heard before for well known players. Cocky Jackson for Larry Jackson. I think also "Grandma" for Bob Friend.
   21. Matthew E Posted: July 04, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4743370)
There's a small family of writers that Brosnan generated: himself, Jim Bouton, Pat Jordan, Steve Fireovid, Dirk Hayhurst. Am I missing any?
   22. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:20 PM (#4754886)
There's a small family of writers that Brosnan generated: himself, Jim Bouton, Pat Jordan, Steve Fireovid, Dirk Hayhurst. Am I missing any?


Bill Lee, although I'm not sure how much of The Wrong Stuff is him and how much is Dick Lally.

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