Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyOnly a fraction of minor league baseball players ever make it to the major leagues. The trip starts in places like Waterloo, Iowa, a town of ``working-class and poor,'' that is the home of the Waterloo Diamonds, a San Diego Padres farm team in the Class A Midwest League. Freelance writer Panek here takes us through the 1992 season, on the field and off, in a city in trouble. Industry has deserted Waterloo; the Diamonds, on the other hand, are a franchise worth about $1 million, and the team brings some $2.495 million into the local economy. City and team need each other to survive, and each is wary of the consequences if the other fails. The team comprises players who aren't likely to be recruited into the major leagues; they are ``battle fodder,'' i.e., players kept on the job so the talented few will have someone to compete with. There are only a handful of prospects this season: Cameron Cairncross, an Australian with a live fastball; Jason Hardtke, a second baseman and all-star; and pitcher Robbie Beckett, a former first-round draft pick with good stuff, if no control. Panek concentrates on the business of minor league baseball, how it flourished into big business in the 1980s, and how it now virtually blackmails municipalities into underwriting it. This is a gritty and unsentimental portrait of the bush leagues. (July)
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
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Waterloo Diamonds based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Panek's book is a virtual treasure-trove of information on practically all aspects of the operation of an affiliated Minor League baseball organization. He describes almost everything short of how popcorn vendors were selected. I lived in Cedar Rapids for 6 years and became addicted to attending Class 'A' baseball, and many of the same things Panek describes were what I saw at Kernels games (though their situation with regard to public/city support of professional baseball was much different than Waterloo's). The writing is superb, though I did get somewhat annoyed by the prevalence of obscenities in many places of the book. In some areas it's difficult to read two paragraphs without vulgarities littering the dialogue, and at times it bordered on diminishing the class of the literature. I am not naive enough to think ballplayers are any different than other people in how stable-boy their speech can be at times, especially when I was playing 1st base in HS, but the book didn't need the amount that it contains to get the point across. Be that as it is, I found this book almost impossible to put down and it should be 'devoured' by every fan of the game.