Working at the Ballpark
The Fascinating Lives of Baseball People
by Tom Jones
A Baseball Book Review
Working at the Ballpark, The Fascinating Lives of Baseball People is based on a series of interviews of fifty folks that work at major league ballparks. The author covers a broad range of baseball people, from GMs and team presidents, to players, coaches, clubhouse workers, vendors, media, and even a “ticket hustler.”
The interviewees were asked three questions: “What is your job?”, “”How did you get into this line of work?”, and “What does this job mean to you?” The book consists of a recollection of these conversations, in the subjects’ own words. Some of the personnel are familiar names to a baseball fan: Johnny Pesky, Sandy Alderson, Bob Watson, Leo Mazzone, Omar Vizquel, among others. Others are not familiar, but in most cases just as enlightening: umpire Fieldin Culbreth, “Bernie the Brewer” mascot Chris Hanson, Tampa official scorer Jim Ferguson, San Diego groundskeeper Luke Yoder, and many more.
The Astros and Rangers are well-represented by current and former employees Ron Jackson (Express hitting coach), Doug Mansolino (Astros coach), Phil Merkord (Rangers ball boy), Woody Williams (Astros pitcher), Arnie Murphy (the “Peanut Dude” vendor at MinuteMaid), and Bruce Wilson (Rangers scoreboard operator).
The broad range of personnel and their duties provides great insight into the many efforts that go on behind the scenes so that we can enjoy a major league baseball game. I was impressed by the long hours that many worked, as well as their dedication and attachment to the game.
For those SABR members interested in “the business of baseball”, I would highly recommend this book.
Here are the key statistics:
Book: Working at the Ballpark
Author: Tom Jones
Author Credentials: He has worked for thirty years as a legislative director in the administrations of the last five California governors. This is his first book.
Published: 2008, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1-60239-226-7
Length: 361 pages
Price: Retail list – $17.95; Online: from $2.00 (used) + shipping.