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Seth Swirsky is an Everyfan, writing letters to ballplayers, asking them about key details of their careers and their craft. Here, Swirsky has elicited enlightening responses from many of today's great pitchers, including Roger Clemens, Dave Cone, and Tom Glavine; received illuminating letters from Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Juan Marichal; a surprising answer on the similarity between pitching and picking stocks from Warren Buffett; and uncovered such delights as the Sun-Maid Raisin lady who married a Major League pitcher. The result is a humorous, often moving testament to the greatness of the game and our admiration for players who hone their skills over a lifetime and achieve greatness on the field.
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Gods--as John Updike once wrote of Ted Williams--do not answer letters, but it's amazing how many ballplayers actually do. In his previous Baseball Letters, Swirsky mailed off questions to contemporaries and old-timers alike, and then published the medley of mostly handwritten missives he got back. The effort not only resulted in a good autograph collection, it also revealed some personal--and at times unguarded--insights into the game.
In his follow-up, Swirsky focuses on pitchers. The results are actually a little wilder. Roger Clemens writes that he learned the most about pitching from Tom Seaver. Al Hrabosky, the hyper reliever who was forced to shave his menacing Fu Manchu by Cardinals manager Vern Rapp, complains that "as a result the Mad Hungarian"--Hrabosky's alter ego on the mound--"felt like a soldier going to war without a rifle!" Even the reclusive Steve Carlton, who detested media intrusions into players' private lives, speaks out: "I felt it would be better for me and the fans if [reporters] covered me from the pressbox," Carlton writes. "Looking back, I think that the writing was better and definitely more creative after I stopped speaking to the media."
Like in the original volume, photos abound, and Swirsky prints the actual letters (providing transcripts for those whose handwriting is a little leaky). Unlike the original, though, he sweetens the deal by including some historical documents like old notes from Cy Young and Walter Johnson, plus Christy Mathewson's World War I embarkation orders. --Jeff SilvermanFrom the Back Cover:
"Every Pitcher Tells a Story is a rare treasure of a book."
"Just finished reading all the great stories in Every Pitcher Tells a Story. All I can say is 'Holy Cow, what a book!'
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