Book Review – The 10 Commandments of Baseball

The guys over at Sporting Chance Press were kind enough to send me a copy of a book by J.D. Thorne called The 10 Commandments of Baseball.  Given the similarity in concept to my own recent endeavors, I was excited to give it a read and share it with you.  Thorne is a life-long baseball fan and amateur player in Milwaukee, WI in addition to his professional “real life” as a lawyer and author.  The book’s concepts were actually born here in MN where he was giving a motivational speech to inmates in Duluth.  It was received so warmly, that it was repeated to various groups and finally culminated in the literary presentation.

But to be clear, these 10 Commandments go far beyond my simple entreaties to fans to behave themselves.  This is a lovely remembrance of Joe McCarthy and his life and contributions to the game of baseball that goes way beyond his 10 Commandments.  The book delves into a much wider sphere than purely the expectations of the players he managed.  It draws a picture of the history and characters that surrounded the game in those early years that developed McCarthy’s concept of the right way to play the game and then continued to follow his life and experiences to show how those concepts are applied with a LOT of familiar names along the way starting with the forward by Bud Selig.  You get stories of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, more recent players like Vlad Guerrero and Curt Schilling and so many more than I can list.

If you have ever heard a TV or radio broadcast where they invited a long-time retired player in to chat about baseball in his day, you will understand the feel of this book.  It’s very conversational and easy to read and all you Twins fans will understand that I swear I can hear John Gordon in the background as I read asking another rambling question that elicits yet another story – or even Blyleven kvetching about pitch counts and complete games.

It’s full of stories and tangents and asides that resemble a family dinner and the storytelling that takes place after everyone has over-indulged and wants nothing more than a comfortable place to sit and chat.  The parade of players and stories that come through has the feel of yet another uncle that offers another story to top the one told by the previous relative.  In other words, it’s a great way to learn some fun things about the history of the game while you exclaim to yourself, “wow, I didn’t know that!”

That’s just the first half!

The second half really gets into the intended focus of the book.  You are still sitting in the family room and hearing stories of ‘in the day’ but they have begun to coalesce into a purpose and direction – what it takes to be successful in your endeavors with baseball as the ever flexible metaphor for life.  We baseball fans – and especially Twins fans – seem to have an instinctive understanding of “playing the game the right way” and whether we are seeing it or not.  But have we ever stopped to decide if the principles of the “right way” go beyond the diamond? 

I encourage you to go online to order a copy  and give it a read.  It’s a light-hearted way to think a little bit more about our daily activities and whether we expect more from the boys of summer than we do of ourselves.

Since I can’t leave you hanging, here’s Joe McCarthy’s 10 Commandments of Baseball!

  1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
  2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
  3. An outfielder who throws in back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
  4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
  5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E.  He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.
  6. Do not alibi on bad hops.  Anybody can field the good ones.
  7. Always run them out.  You can never tell.
  8. Do Not Quit.
  9. Do not find too much fault with the umpires.  You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
  10. A pitcher how hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.

Hope you get a chance to give it a read and share with others!