Book Review: Major League Dads

Is there anything more American than a game of catch between a father and his son? For many, the answer to this question would probably be that the only way to make that vision more American is to have an apple pie sitting in the window of the house next to the yard where the game of catch is taking place. It is because of this, that there is a certain nostalgia attached to the relationship of fathers and their sons and how the relationship grows through the game of baseball.

In a new book by Kevin Neary and Leigh A. Tobin called Major League Dads: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect on the Fathers who Inspired Them to Love the Game, fans who saw their relationship with their father grow through America’s pastime have a chance to experience the affect it had on those players who made it to the game’s highest level.

In the introduction, former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona sets the tone for what is to come in the pages that follow as he tells the story of the relationship he had with his father and how that has not only affected how he sees the game of baseball, but also how he tries to raise his own son. His story is unique because while many dads try to teach their son the game of baseball from what they see when they watch their local teams and from what they remember from when they played little league, Francona’s dad was actually a Major Leaguer.

The stories in this book all involve how a player’s dad grew closer to them through the game of baseball, but it is amazing to which how many different levels of baseball expertise these players’ fathers had to bestow upon them. In addition to Francona, the book has dozens of stories from current and former players that tell the tales of how influential their fathers were with their involvement in the game.

Each story is about two to three pages in length and most tend to focus on how their father got the player started in baseball and what their relationship with their father is like in relation to the sport at this point. There are similar comments made by various players to the idea that there may be thousands of people in the stands when they play, but the only one they ever hear is their dad, which speaks volumes about the influence a father can have.

Many well-known players have their stories featured in this book, including the likes of all three Molina brothers, New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay, Atlanta Brave Chipper Jones and future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Madux.

While the majority of the stories are only about how life grew around baseball, there are many players whose tales touch on other aspects of life where they grew closer to their fathers and then relate that back to how it helped them succeed on the field.

The stories they tell about the relationship with their father are not unlike those that many of us have witnessed either with ourselves, or those around us throughout the years.  Just as those of us who are now working in some other field besides being paid to play baseball cherished those moments with our dads, the phenoms did as well.

The book is a quick and easy read due to the fact that a new section starts every third page. Also, because there is continually a different voice for the reader at almost every page turn, it keeps the reader engaged, but also makes it easy to read to a stopping point as there are many throughout the book.

The 256 page book came out at the beginning of May in hardcover and retails for $20. It is being published by Running Press.

Overall Rating: 2.75/5

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