Book Review: The Long Season

 

The Long Season is considered by many to be a baseball classic, the first “tell all” book written by a baseball insider during his active career. Reviewers also claim this book is one of the best American diaries ever written.
 
The Long Season is written by pitcher Jim Brosnan about his 1959 season with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. Brosnan debuted in 1954 for the Chicago Cubs and returned to the majors in 1956. He pitched for nine seasons through 1963. He was a member of the 1961 pennant-winning Reds, of which he wrote a second book titled Pennant Race. Brosnan’s career record is 55-47, with 67 saves and an ERA of 3.54.
 
Brosnan uses a diary approach to write about his 1959 season. The narrative is organized by significant days and places, from his pre-season contract negotiations (January 26 at his home in Morton Grove, IL), to Spring Training (he arrives in St. Petersburg February 19), enduring early losing streaks with the Cardinals (he’s at his St. Louis apartment on June 8 when he finds out he’s been traded), and through the remainder of the season with Cincinnati (the closing entry is September 27 from Forbes Field in Pittsburgh).
 
The Long Season is often compared to pitcher Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. Brosnan wrote it 10 years before Bouton, and in retrospect after several decades this book seems much less controversial than Ball Four. However, at the time it stirred up resentment among some of Brosnan’s former teammates. In particular, Gino Cimoli threatened to punch Brosnan the next time they met. Solly Hemus, Brosnan’s Cardinals manager, had many choice words expressed in the press. Brosnan’s humor is subtle; I often found myself chuckling, as compared to laughing out loud at Bouton’s writing. 
 
I really enjoyed The Long Season. It should be an easy, entertaining read for SABR members. The book will also have a special appeal to those fans that were old enough to be following baseball in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
                       
Here’s the key statistics:
 
Book:   The Long Season
Author: Jim Brosnan
Author Credentials: Also wrote Pennant Race and numerous sports biographies.
Published: 1960, HarperCollins (hardcover), Ivan R. Dee (paperback)
ISBN 1-56663-418-0
Length: 276 pages
Price: Retail list – $16.95; Online: new from $11.00 + ship; used from $3.00 + ship.

 

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