Everytime a town’s name came up on my screen, the image of a specific ballpark slipped into sharp focus. What I remember most clearly was not home runs or dazzling plays or even who was a prospect and who was not; it was the faces of the people who happened to play baseball for a living, each fighting his own private war, each wanting not much more than what we all aim for-to look back at the end of a day or a season and be able to say, “I gave it my best shot.”
And David Lamb, who travelled the world as a foreign correspondent in places of danger such as Beirut, Lebanon, tells the story of those who played baseball for a living in places such as Stockton, California; El Paso, Texas; Bluefield, West Virginia, Elmira, New York; Salt Lake City, Utah, and Helena, Montana. Not major league cities and teams to be sure, but the places out of which those who play in the Big Show must pass through first.
While written in the late 80’s (and published in 1991) Stolen Season could be written today with different names, and in some cases different teams playing in different stadiums. (For example, Lamb makes a visit to the Salt Lake City (UT)Trappers who are now the Ogden Raptors and whose old stadium Derks Field was torn down to make way for the current Salt Lake City team the Salt Lake Bees who play in the Spring Mobile Ballpark. The Trappers were an independant affliate of the Pioneer League. The Bees are the LA Angels of Anaheim’s AAA team of the Pacific Coast League)
And while Lamb traverses the US in his motorhome dubbed 49er, there is a common theme of love for the Braves most notably the Boston/Milwaukee linage of the current Atlanta franchise. For his travels puts him across the paths of several childhood baseball heroes notably Eddie Matthews and Warren Spann among others.
Lamb’s ability to describe the diverse, yet similar, landscape of baseball whether it is in the over-the-top confines of the Dudley Dome in El Paso, home to theDiablos, or in the simple, almost turn-of-the-century (the 20th century) locales of Bluefield and Elmira, brings home both the regional and national flavor of our national pastime.
I really enjoyed this book and for the baseball fan in your life it would be a great addition to their library. And though it is 20 years old, it tells the stories of places and people, now gone, who make baseball the game that it is.
I give this book a 5 as it is a great read for baseball fans everywhere.
Note: I borrowed this book from my local library to statisfy my love of baseball.
A related article of note: