This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.
Book Review – Wild and Outside: How a Renegade Minor League Revived the Spirit of Baseball in America’s Heartland, by Stefan Fatsis
As a writer about independent baseball (Indy Ball Island), I am always curious to read more about the history surrounding the indy leagues. I was given a recommendation to check out Wild and Outside, a book that covers the independent Northern League during their second season. While major league baseball came to a halt in the summer of 1994, the Northern League was flourishing and bringing hope back to baseball.
This book, much like independent baseball itself, is a little all over the place. It bounces back and forth from teams to players frequently, but always in a way that keeps you following along all season long. Their second season of existence didn’t happen without some bumps in the road, but the league stayed strong and survived. Through all the ups and downs, readers are given an inside look at everything that went on behind the scenes with the league, in every city, and in each locker room.
The book’s introduction says it best:
“This is the story of how a game of rebels – from the purist Miles Wolff to the chip-off-the-block son of showman Bill Veeck to a happy-go-lucky career minor leaguer named Ed Nottle – battled the big leagues, and some times each other. It is about players who, despite being told they aren’t good enough, refuse to loosen their grip on a dream born in childhood. It is about communities that rally around something as innocent and traditional as a baseball team. And it is about a place where baseball can still be fun.”
Wild and Outside follows league owner Miles Wolff as he explains just why he wanted to bring baseball to cities in the northern mid-west. Readers get a chance to see how the six towns (Duluth, Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sioux City, Iowa; Thunder Bay, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba) bonded with a group of misfits and brought the spirit of baseball back when it was going through its roughest patch. Meet the owners and managers who have to deal with the trials and tribulations that come with independent baseball. And finally, read about the players who are just trying to keep their dreams alive anyway they can.
While the book does cover all six teams to some extent, some teams and players are covered in much more detail than others. The Duluth-Superior Dukes with their owner Ted Cushmore is one story that really gets to the essence of independent baseball. Readers will find themselves growing sympathetic to their issues and begin rooting for the real underdogs in a league that is filled with them. Cushmore is thrust into owning the struggling Dukes, and with little help from others around him, including a manager who rarely communicated with him, faces many challenges that are a part of independent baseball teams everywhere.
In addition, hard working players such as Stephen Bishop, Vince Castaldo, Pedro Guerrero and many others have their stories weaved into the book effortlessly. The reader can follow their journeys throughout the season as they try to rekindle their love for baseball through indy ball all while still trying to reach their ultimate goal of making it (back) to affiliated ball.
Although the book is over two decades old, and the Northern League is no longer in existence (the league folded after the 2010 season), it is still a great read for baseball fans especially those that are a fan of minor league baseball and the true love of the game. This book could really be a number of stories around the country right now… the heart, the passion, the drive and determination are still in small towns all across America every summer. Get away from the big MLB contracts and fall in love with baseball again.
4 out of 5 stars
A copy of Wild and Outside will be a giveaway to a lucky person who donates through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. A special thanks to Kayla for contributing a copy!
This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.