Pinstripe Defection: A Book Review

David vs. Goliath stories never get old and sometimes it feels like the public has heard all of the ones worth hearing. Author Clay McKinney teaches readers there’s at least one more relatively unknown story out there that pits the little guy versus the big guy in a big way. In “Pinstripe Defection: A Small Town Attorney’s Battle with the New York Yankees, McKinney tells the story of a man who was outnumbered , outspent (financially) and out resourced and still stuck to his fight until the end.

This work takes an interesting look at the world of international scouting and uncovers the unethical treatment many of these players endure on their path to the Major Leagues. The book chronicles the story of a twenty-nine year old attorney named Jason Browning who discovered some of the unflattering things that were happening and more notably, the promises that were not being kept from scouts and Big League clubs to talented young players.

Browning could have taken this information and kept it to himself, but he felt it was his duty to fight for the equal treatment of all players and all people. Due to his ethics and persistence, Browning found himself in a five year legal battle with the best known professional franchise in America. The attorney’s main focus was to level the playing field for all potential Big Leaguers and make sure if clubs would get in trouble for making false promises to American born players, they would face the same troubles when those deals were done on international soil.

The Arkansas attorney knew he had a strong fight, but while researching his case, he found many undercover dealings that continue to surprise him to this day. The story centers on the Yankees’ signing of former Cuban native Michael Hernandez. The book details the backroom deals that took place between the Yankees and the Mexican League team he played for before coming to the states. McKinney details the amount of money and information that changed hands between the two organizations as if they were simply using this Mexican League team as another Minor League affiliate.

Browning’s exploits become even more impressive when the reader considers that he works very closely with Major League Baseball. In fact, not only does Browning serve as a legal advisor to a number of agents, but he is actually certified by the MLBPA to be an agent himself. This means that Browning stood to face considerable back-lash in the “good ‘ol boy” world of professional baseball by outing the most prolific franchise and by doing it in such a public manner. Apparently he wasn’t concerned about other agents spinning him as something worse than he was to clients when he approached this journey.

It is obvious that McKinney’s personal beliefs most closely align with Browning’s actions, as most ethical people would. That said, McKinney still does a good job of presenting both sides of the story in an even handed manner, so it is more of a factual piece than that of strict opinion.



The book is a relatively quick read and certainly has all of the facts necessary to tell the story.  cKinney’s tone of writing takes some of the suspense out of the book because while the title presents the book as a baseball suspense mystery of sorts, the author tells the story in a very matter of fact way, which actually fits the law background of the book, but could hinder reader interest.

McKinney takes just over 200 pages to tell his story. The book was published in 2010 and retails for $19.73.

Overall Grade: 3.25/5

 

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