Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life

Overview

Forget the steroid-addled, overpaid, and unmotivated players: America’s pastime is still alive and well, and is still the heartfelt sport it’s always been—in the Minor Leagues. And nowhere is this truer than in Kentucky, whose rich baseball history continues to play out in the four teams profiled in this book. Following these teams through the 2010 season—the triumphs, struggles, and big league hopes and dreams—the book tells the larger story of baseball in America’s smaller venues, where the game in its purest ...

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Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life

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Overview

Forget the steroid-addled, overpaid, and unmotivated players: America’s pastime is still alive and well, and is still the heartfelt sport it’s always been—in the Minor Leagues. And nowhere is this truer than in Kentucky, whose rich baseball history continues to play out in the four teams profiled in this book. Following these teams through the 2010 season—the triumphs, struggles, and big league hopes and dreams—the book tells the larger story of baseball in America’s smaller venues, where the game in its purest form is still valued and warmly embraced. 

The story begins before the season with national-anthem singing tryouts in Lexington, then tags along with players, staffs, and fans at home, in the office, and on the field, offering a rare glimpse of the unglamorous reality of Minor League ball. From the front-office staff in Bowling Green planning kooky promotions, to a trainer grocery shopping for a team on forty dollars a day, to a new wife coming to terms with her husband’s transitory lifestyle, to a father struggling to make it back to the Majors and a Cuban defector blowing everyone away with a 100-mph-plus fastball these are the people who live to make baseball happen, in all its nitty-gritty glory.
 

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Editorial Reviews

New York Journal of Books

"Bluegrass Baseball performs a reality check for prospective players and owners in the minor leagues."—Dorothy Seymour Mills, New York Journal of Books

— Dorothy Seymour Mills

Baseball America Editors

"While Bluegrass Baseball is centered in Kentucky, the experiences of the players and employees are universal. It provides excellent insight into just what the minor leagues mean to just about anyone involved in the game."—James Bailey, Baseball America

— James Bailey

Shelf Awareness

"With depth and sensitivity, Cengel details the grind faced by owners, players, trainers, groundskeepers, ushers, broadcasters, mascots and even local families who take in ball players as boarders in their homes. Life in the minors is devoid of chartered planes, fame and fortune, but these vivid, personal stories of ordinary people with a dedicated passion and drive for the game will serve as inspiration for all."—Kathleen Gerard, Shelf Awareness

— Kathleen Gerard

Society for American Baseball Research

"From the front office scheming wacky promos to trainers shopping for the team to players struggling for a shot to The Show, this nitty-gritty account puts you in that minor-league clubhouse. So well done you’ll smell the bus fumes and hear that heckler over on the Bluegrass Baseball third-base line."—Society for American Baseball Research
New York Journal of Books - Dorothy Seymour Mills

"Bluegrass Baseball performs a reality check for prospective players and owners in the minor leagues."—Dorothy Seymour Mills, New York Journal of Books
Baseball America - James Bailey

"While Bluegrass Baseball is centered in Kentucky, the experiences of the players and employees are universal. It provides excellent insight into just what the minor leagues mean to just about anyone involved in the game."—James Bailey, Baseball America
Shelf Awareness - Kathleen Gerard

"With depth and sensitivity, Cengel details the grind faced by owners, players, trainers, groundskeepers, ushers, broadcasters, mascots and even local families who take in ball players as boarders in their homes. Life in the minors is devoid of chartered planes, fame and fortune, but these vivid, personal stories of ordinary people with a dedicated passion and drive for the game will serve as inspiration for all."—Kathleen Gerard, Shelf Awareness
Drew Stubbs
“[Cengel provides] an interesting and behind-the-scenes insight to the life of Minor League players.”—Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds center fielder
Anne Jewell
“If you don’t know what cat food and cave shrimp have in common with Kentucky baseball, join Katya Cengel on her enlightening and entertaining odyssey with the state’s professional teams. She takes us places where fans can’t typically go and introduces us to people whose personal stories make the balls and strikes much more interesting.”—Anne Jewell, author of Baseball in Louisville and executive director of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
C70 at the Bat - Daniel Shoptaw

"This was a fascinating way to look at minor league life from all levels and all angles. . . . If you are a fan of baseball and especially like to see the human side of these players that get out there every night for our entertainment, I would surely recommend picking up Bluegrass Baseball."—Daniel Shoptaw, C70 at the Bat
AETHLON: The Journal of Sport Literature - Jeffrey P. Beck

"Bluegrass Baseball portrays its large cast of characters with honesty and journalistic skill. It is a fast and engaging read."—Jeffrey P. Beck, AETHLON: The Journal of Sport Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803235359
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Katya Cengel is a freelance writer based in Richmond, California. A staff reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal for eight years, she reported from the former Soviet Union, Europe, and Africa and has published in Esquire and the Wall Street Journal.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Part 1 Lexington Legends: A Tale of Obsession

1 The Legend behind the Legends 3

2 The Man Who Would Be Alan 19

3 A Loyal Following 36

4 Past Legends and Future Stars 51

Part 2 Louisville Bats: A Lesson in Discontent

5 Great Expectations 73

6 Pitch Perfect 86

7 The Faithful 99

8 Diminishing Returns 110

9 The Star Who Almost Landed in Louisville 120

Part 3 Bowling Green Hot Rods: The Business of Baseball

10 America's Other Pastime 133

11 The Start-Up Sprint 145

12 The Businessmen 157

13 Kings of the Road 164

Part 4 Florence Freedom: The Humble Life

14 Falling Down 185

15 Closer to Ordinary 197

16 Strike Two 214

17 A Long Way to Go 218

18 Back to Reality 231

Afterword 247

Notes 251

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