Skip Lockwood

November 24, 2019

I hate writing negative reviews, especially of books I’ve bought (paid for with my own money!!!) because I was so looking forward to reading them that I decided not to request a review copy, which sometimes takes a little time, especially when I don’t know the author personally. So it comes as a sad revelation that I was very disappointed in former major league pitcher Skip Lockwood’s memoir INSIGHT PITCH: MY LIFE AS A MAJOR LEAGUE CLOSER.

My interest in Lockwood’s story was initially personal: in the course of a spotty 12-year MLB career with four different teams (five, if you count the Pilots and Brewers as two different teams)  from 1965 to 1980, Lockwood broke the Mets’ team record for "most appearances in a season" in 1977 with 63 games, a record that had been held for the preceding 13 seasons by Bill Wakefield, about whom I’ve written several articles for BJOL plus his SABR-bio. I’d been a rather intense Mets’ fan during Lockwood’s tenure, so I also remembered him on the mound but my current interest was in the man who broke Wakefield’s club record of 62 games.

I’m fond of Wakefield personally—he was exceptionally cooperative, often charming and witty, answering my PITA questions over the years as I researched his life and career, and I still believe that, of the numerous books that I would like to write over the looming (three weeks and counting) post-retirement stage of my career, the memoir that I’ve proposed co-authoring with Wakefield has the best chance of publication and the most general interest. My proposed working title was Casey’s Final Pheenom. Wakefield’s memories of pitching as a star rookie during Casey Stengel’s final full year of managing are both vivid and sharply remembered. Bill Wakefield wasn’t too enthralled with the prospect, and since I’ve got some other book-length irons in the fire, certainly too many to undertake right now, I’m okay waiting for him to change his mind.

Wakefield’s reluctance to co-author his memoirs may have to do with the need for a co-author at all—he’s an intelligent and articulate man, a Stanford graduate and a successful post-MLB-career businessman, who’s certainly capable of writing his own memoirs all by his lonesome, and I offered my services more as a convenience to him than as a producer of competent prose. As a reader of memoirs, I’m far more taken with the idea of reading books that have no "as written by" or "as told to" credit attached to them, as those are usually euphemisms for an athlete’s "I’ll take my cut of the publisher’s advance, thank you, but don’t want to be bothered with the, you know, writing stuff." That Bill Wakefield undertakes Casey’s Final Pheenom as a solo project is actually my first preference, but if he needs a nudge, or someone to share the labor, I’ll gladly climb aboard and lend a hand. It seems like a really fun book, describing an exciting time in baseball history from someone with a unique insight into a major figure in that history.

I do believe that, in some circumstances, such as Ed Linn’s contributions to Durocher’s NICE GUYS FINISH LAST, having a professional writer improves the book’s quality immeasurably, not only on a sentences-and-paragraphs level, but crucially in the matter of providing structure: what makes an arresting lead chapter, how to arrange the facts of a factually complicated narrative, which anecdotes to present as scenes and which to present in summary. It’s these often-unnoticed qualities that make a book "flow" (as my students loved to explain vaguely what made readings readable—they seemed to think that books are liquid in substance, and they "flow" "smoothly" like creeks or streams or mighty rivers, natural formations that twist and turn as God mysteriously directs them, and not as the result of an author’s labor-intensive efforts to make them seem to flow smoothly.)  Lockwood’s solo-authored memoir is in dire need of a guiding hand, and maybe a guiding boot to drive his ass in the needed direction.

Structurally, it’s all over the map. Lockwood had a more fascinating career than I remembered—he played with, and sometimes against, such gigantic figures as Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Satchel Paige, Carl Yastrzemski—and he pulled off the single greatest negotiating maneuver against notorious cheapskate Charlie O. Finley I ever thought possible. But this story hops around in time, in space, in form, so much that it appears to be an early draft of a complex memoir that requires much re-writing and re-conceptualizing.

Omitted, for example, is any mention of Bill Wakefield. Wakefield’s name isn’t important, of course, but its omission jumped out at me because Lockwood managed to omit any mention of holding (for a while) the Mets’ appearances record. He has several short chapters (what my old writing teacher John Barth—who is old, very close to 90—used to call "crots" rather than "chapters") devoted to specific games as the Mets’ closer, but in none of them does he describe his bearing down on Wakefield’s record, which he surpassed in his final appearance of the 1977 season. It’s entirely possible that Lockwood is unaware he broke a team record, though it’s hard to believe that I, as a Mets fan, could have been aware of his place in the Mets record book, while he remained clueless as to his achievement.

The term "closer," that appears in the book’s subtitle, is a little misleading, since there really wasn’t any such job designation in Lockwood’s time. In 1977,  as I recall, Lockwood would have been dubbed a "relief ace" or a "fireman," though he did close out a lot of games before the term "closer" came into general use. The outstanding fact about his career is the variety of it. Signed as a bonus baby by Charlie O., Lockwood had to occupy a spot on the 1965 KC A’s roster, despite his age (18) and inexperience. And, oh, yes, Lockwood was a position player at the time, a third baseman, though you’d never know it from his batting stats: a .121 BA in 42 plate appearances in 1965. His signing makes a very odd story: Charlie O.’s scout presented him with a take-or-leave-it contract for $35,000 to sign out of high school, and Lockwood, in a supremely ballsy move, added a "1" to the front of that figure, flabbergasting the scout, who knew Charlie to be among the skinnier skinflints who’d ever flinted skin. When the scout phoned Charlie, however, Lockwood got on the line and in a few minutes and fewer words ("I’ll make you a winner") persuaded Charlie that he was worth $135,000.

What amazes me about this anecdote is the comparison between Finley’s loopy generosity here and his inexplicable  tightfistedness a decade later with Lockwood’s soon-to-be teammate, Jim Hunter, whose well-established skills Finley lost over a contractual obligation to pay a $50,000 insurance bill.  I’ve never heard of Finley throwing around money as freely as he did on Lockwood’s first contract, and it goes into the books as a testament to Finley’s mental instability, quadrupling his budget on a kid third baseman in 1964 on a whim, and refusing to reward his best pitcher in 1974 out of sheer cussed stubbornness. Lockwood was soon rooming with Hunter, who enjoyed a much more successful 1965 season as a teenaged bonus baby than Lockwood, as well as a much more successful career, of course, with the A’s and with the Yankees. Hunter’s later free-agent signing with New York, according to Insight Pitch, pushed Lockwood out of the Yankees’ rotation—by 1974, Lockwood had become a starting pitcher, whom the Yankees had acquired. He never pitched for the Yankees, but he did sign with the Mets, who turned the former infielder/starting pitcher into a relief ace in 1975. Lockwood, then, is the only player I can think of who signed as a position player, converted to a  rotation starter (85 starts for the 1970-72 Brewers), and then converted to an ace reliever.  A very odd career, wouldn’t you agree?

I hadn’t intended to write any more tracers, but I did try to track down some of the anecdotes he tells at length, just to fill in some more details, and I was frustrated to find that some of the most detailed stories Lockwood tells never happened, at least according to the facts that he supplies. Insight Pitch, in other words, adheres to that standard practice of athletes' biographies, the invention of fictionalized details. He tells of a complete-game victory he threw as a Brewer in 1970 against the Detroit Tigers, for example:

On one particular Sunday afternoon in July, I had the opportunity to know [Brewers’ manager Dave] Bristol  even better than before. I was starting against the Detroit Tigers on a glorious midsummer afternoon that showcased gleaming sunshine and light breezes off Lake Michigan. I was struggling to regain my focus that day, after a routine double-play ball went through the shortstop’s legs. Frustrated to a fault, I was trying to throw the ball too hard. My fastball was straight. My curveball was straighter. With the score three to zero in favor of the Tigers, I walked the first two batters to start the fourth inning.

Lockwood then goes on for the next few pages to describe further details of that crucial game, beginning with the anecdote that announcer Bob Uecker was telling at the time, a story about his fishing escapades on the Upper Peninsula, and then a longer description of Uecker’s about a visit to the mound from manager Bristol, "his voice…quivering with rage" at Lockwood, which caused Uecker’s light-hearted tone to change sharply.

Perhaps you’re wondering, at this point, how it was that Lockwood could describe the nuances of Uecker’s tones of voice if he was standing on the mound at the time Uecker was speaking into a microphone two hundred feet away, but that turns out to be the smallest of problems with this rendering of this game.

Lockwood’s story concludes soon after he reveals that "We won the game, five to three. I recorded a complete game victory." The larger problem is that, if Lockwood recorded any kind of victory against the Tigers in 1970, he recorded it in his wildest dreams.

Lockwood won only two games in his career against the Tigers, and they both came in 1972, one of them after Dave Bristol had been fired. Both of those games were complete game victories, but all the harrowing details about the nightmarish start to the game are complete fiction: both complete-game victories in 1972 were shutouts, and both got off to spectacular starts.  If we were to conclude generously that Lockwood simply mixed up 1970 with 1972 (although the passage is clearly dated "1970"), then where did Lockwood get the fine details? The DP ball going through his shortstop’s legs, the three runs in the first three innings, the poor quality of both his primary pitches, the outraged manager bawling him out on the pitching mound, and the miraculous finish of the Brewers scoring five runs while Lockwood shut the Tigers down—where did Lockwood get those details from? Only his proctologist knows for sure.

The proliferation of details coupled with the absence of any such game in the record makes me wonder if Lockwood is deliberately spoofing the concept of such memorable games, or whether he is simply delusional. Mind you, this passage was published in 2018, when baseball-reference.com was but a fingertip away from refreshing memories with ease and certitude. I spent more than a few moments triple-checking his details, because I had trouble believing that I could not track down any game that remotely resembled this account, not on a midsummer afternoon in Detroit in July of 1970, nor in all of 1970, nor in all of Lockwood’s career.

He relates a few stories in copious detail, often with remembered dialogue from fifty years ago, which you have to regard with a dubious eye, or two dubious eyes, or however many dubious eyes you can muster. He describes pitching his first game for the Mets—manager Yogi Berra meets him on the mound, literally. They had never met before, and Yogi’s conversation, according to Lockwood, consists of modifying every noun in sight with the adjective "fuckin’" and changing Lockwood’s first name to "Chip." Aside from that, Yogi has no wisdom to share with Lockwood, though this story is retold at length several times in the book, to very little point that I can see.

Lockwood’s memoir is a  structural mess as well as a fact-checking nightmare.  The memoir first came to my attention through a Twitter post containing the following link  https://mattdahlgren12.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/what-say-you-skip/ to a blog written by the grandson of Babe Dahlgren, the Yankee who replaced Lou Gehrig in 1939 and, much later, a batting practice pitcher for the 1965 KC A’s, where he came into contact with an 18-year-old Lockwood. Dahlgren’s grandson, in this post, defends his grandpa’s reputation against the charges Lockwood makes in his memoir that the elder Dahlgren started a verbal and then physical confrontation with him on the day he first joined the A’s.  You can read the details of Lockwood’s complaint, and the younger Dahlgren’s counter-complaint, as well as the encomiums written by KC A’s players who were present in the clubhouse, all attesting to Dahlgren’s character and gentle nature, including a touchingly scribbled note from Rocky Colavito.

Dahlgren quotes extensively from Lockwood’s book, saving me the trouble of re-typing lengthy passages, but the essence of it is that Lockwood doesn’t come off well. Not least is the fact that he gets some small details wrong in his telling (he places players on the A’s who weren’t even there that day, and misstates the positions that various coaches and managers held on that day) but the larger issue is that this stuff is all easily researchable by anyone who cares to do an hour’s worth of work. It’s not as if there were any real time-pressure on Lockwood to publish this material in 2018 before he could spare that hour, and it would have made for a much tighter, surer narrative that didn’t depend so heavily on a faulty memory of events and people and boxscores from forty or fifty years ago. As it stands, every anecdote, every unsubstantiated quote, every detail must be regarded as embellished at best and as fictional at worst.

The material Lockwood omits makes for a fascinating book, one that I was hoping to read. As a teammate of Tom Seaver, who blurbs Insight Pitching, Lockwood was on the Mets’ roster the fateful day the Mets unloaded him in an emotional, drama-filled weeks-long saga of animosity between Seaver and Mets’ brass. There is no mention of that trade, nor of the Dave Kingman trade that same day, nor of any controversy of note that took place during the three controversial seasons that Lockwood pitched for the Mets. Those were drama-packed years, and Lockwood writes as if he never noticed that any of it—the calamitous deals, the clubhouse discord, the back-page screamer headlines—ever took place at all.

I would think that any responsible co-author would have done some of the easier research for Lockwood, at the least.  He tells of an exhibition game he played in as a high school sophomore in the summer of  1962 in the Polo Grounds, describing the Polo Grounds’ appearance and its history, but doesn’t supply substance such as the date this game took place, though that should be easy enough to supply. He refers to the pitcher he faced that day as follows:

I stepped in to face the tall lefty from Brooklyn, New York, the starter for the NY All Stars.  His picture had adorned the back of both New York morning papers, a handsome young face, grinning, with the words "can’t miss" in caps below. The press had predicted that his signing and uniform ceremonies were only a day or two away, his destination to be determined by this game’s outcome but it was assumed that he would most likely choose to wear Yankee pinstripes.

By this point, I’m thinking: who could this young tall lefty be? Koufax? Of course not, he’s already a star for the Dodgers. Candelaria? He was a tall lefty from Brooklyn, but in 1962 he must have been about eight years old. John Franco? Also way too young, plus describing him as "tall" is like describing Fredo Corleone as the brains of the outfit. Fortunately, Lockwood tells all in his next sentence:

I never got his name.

The point is, the pacing is all wrong, and any editor or writer worth his seasoning could have told Lockwood just that: "Hey, Skip, cut all these details building up this mysterious young lefty—they’re completely irrelevant, especially since you don’t know his name and can’t be bothered to look in the archives of the Daily News to find it out, or whatever became of him, if anything. Just because you happen to remember these particulars doesn’t mean they help move your narrative along."

Lockwood does name two big-leaguers who were in the Polo Grounds that day, Clyde King, whom he describes as the first base coach for the New York All-Stars, and "Ex-Major league catcher" Haywood Sullivan who, he says, was his team’s coach.  It’s possible that both men were as he describes, though both are more than a little fishy. For one thing, Sullivan wasn’t any "ex-" major leaguer: in 1962, he was the regular starting catcher for the KC A’s. It’s possible, I suppose, that Sullivan agreed to coach an amateur high school exhibition team on his days off, but how many days off does an MLB player get during the season? Maybe Sullivan took the gig during the All-Star break? That’s the only time I’d imagine he would have to travel to NY and coach the team, but how many major league starting catchers are going to forego a few days’ rest in the middle of the season to coach high school kids? Seems crazy to me.

King is even crazier. In 1962, he was the manager of the AAA Rochester Red Wings, the Orioles’ top farm team, all season long. Again, maybe that was how he chose to spend his days off, coaching first base for a high school team, but I don’t see it.

I might buy it if Lockwood had a good track record of getting his stories straight, but he doesn’t.  In any case, he devotes an entire chapter of his memoir to this single game (he hit a homer off the tall lefty, and Clyde King reminded him to step on the bases—if King is the first base coach for the New York All Stars advising Lockwood as he trots around the bases, btw, how is the tall lefty pitcher also on the New York All Stars?) and he messes up detail after detail. He gives the dimensions of the Polo Grounds, for example, as even more comical than they actually were.  The right field fence was 257 feet down the line, and the left field was almost as close, 279 feet away. Lockwood reduces these implausibly minuscule distances to "two hundred eight feet away from the plate and the pole in left twenty-two feet further." He also renders the huge center field as huger than the 455 feet it measured at its furthest: "center field was a monstrous five hundred five feet out." Simply put, after checking out some of Lockwood’s stats and details, I wouldn’t buy anything he was selling.

Incidentally, Lockwood describes "my nervous fingers" on the drive to this Polo Grounds event in the summer of 1962 as "tapp[ing] a Beatles tune on the vinyl window sill." A nice touch, that fondly remembered window sill with its material so well specified. Too bad the Beatles in the summer of 1962 were still playing in Hamburg, Germany with Pete Best as their drummer, and were at least a year away from any of their songs being broadcast in the Western Hemisphere. It’s almost as if Lockwood is deliberately giving us impossible details to warn us about believing anything he says.

Why we’re finding out so much about this one game, and so little about his high school baseball career itself is a puzzle. No one ever got signed to a big league contract in 1964 on the basis of one at-bat he had in 1962, but there is an entire chapter devoted to this jumble of facts and fantasy, all told out of order. It’s as if (and I would bet it is) this book was dictated in bits and pieces, mixing his hazy recollections of events with other vague memories of different events, and then pasted together in some haphazard order.

Not that you’re likely to find this book for sale on your local bookstore shelves, but if you do, I have two words of advice for you:

Skip Lockwood.

 
 

COMMENTS (16 Comments, most recent shown first)

Steven Goldleaf
Incidentally, one of Maris’s quoted reviews of Lockwood’s book praises it to the heavens for its inclusion of poetry in the book, which is another common error. There is no poetry in Lockwood’s book, in my opinion, and that’s what the word “poetry” implies: a personal opinion. It’s a fine point, a scholastic one in most people’s views, but “poetry” is a word of praise, not a description of a kind of writing, though most people use the word to be synonymous with “verse,” which (in my opinion) is what they really mean. The two main categories of writing are “prose” (stuff like this, that runs to the margins of the page and doesn’t depend on which word ends each line) and “verse” (stuff that is heavily dependent on which word ends which line)—either prose or verse could qualify as poetry, if (in your opinion) it excels and makes you think and goes beyond the mere conveyance of information. Moby Dick, for example, has many poetic passages, and qualifies as poetry in a way that, say, Skip Lockwood’s verse does not.

Put another way, Moby Dick, for example,
Has many
Poetic passages, and qualifies as poetry
In a way that, say, Skip
Lockwood’s verse does
Not.

The six lines above are verse (free verse, adhering to no particular metrical or rhyme scheme, though I did squeeze some alliteration into line #3 by accident) but they sure ain’t poetry. The same criticism applies to the crude verse that Lockwood, somewhat pretentiously, includes in his memoir, meant to seem inspirational but which I found just annoying. The best anecdote I know of illustrating this distinction between verse and poetry is the one about Robert Frost (I think) answering a rap on his door by a young man who introduced himself to Frost, describing himself as a “poet.” Frost answered, “That’s a praise-word. Let’s agree that you write verse.” (My books are still packed up, so I’m going on 40-year-old memory here, and getting the details wrong, no doubt, but that’s the essence of the story.) It’s the same as a high-schooler introducing himself to Mike Trout with “I’m an All-Star level quality centerfielder”—Trout might feel that kid had gone insultingly far in equating himself with Trout, though he’d be more polite than Frost in acknowledging the introduction.

People can use “poetry” to mean what they want it to mean, of course, and I won’t correct them, though I understand that they make no distinction between the two terms, and often have no standard to apply to the distinction. But Lockwood’s attempts are pretty bad.

In my opinion.

7:59 AM Nov 26th
 
Steven Goldleaf
All sources I found, including his SABR-bio and his Wiki bio, mention the bonus story. Of course, Lockwood is the only living witness to that signing, so everyone may just be taking his word for it.
4:02 AM Nov 26th
 
davidt50
Amusing review. Seems an editor or proof reader would help. Did you double check the story of the bonus? Did he really bamboozle Charlie O?
12:25 AM Nov 26th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Well, of course you can't see me as a ghost. That's the whole point of being a ghost. Yes, swiving is a good word, and a better act. I was never much of a fan of Barth's writing (and he hated mine) but I did learn a lot from studying with him. He knows more about the technicalities of writing--terminology, practices, history, etymology, syntax--than anyone I ever knew, and his early, shorter work was very fine. Not a fan of the thick-as-a-brick novels. The year I was in the Hopkins writing program, there were only 12 grad students working with Barth, and I had a number of run-ins with the man, though when I re-met him about ten years ago at a conference where he was speaking, he professed not to remember me, which told me his memory had gotten a bit shaky, or his manners had improved. But his talk was first-rate. Thanks for the kind words about the intro to NY Stories--I enjoyed writing it.
10:14 AM Nov 25th
 
steve161
John Barth: yes, turns 90 in May next year. Haven't thought about him since being disappointed by Sindbad. I was just starting college when The Sot-weed Factor came out. Quite a few of us went absolutely nuts about it, tried to stick the word "swive" into our conversation whenever possible.

Steven, the only non-baseball writing of yours I've ever read is the introduction to John O'Hara's New York Stories, which, while obviously the work of a professor of English, is too readable to be called scholarly. I can't see you as a ghost. If you work with a former player, I hope your model would be Roger Angell's A Pitcher's Story (where the player is not credited as an author) or even Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy's The Red Sox Years (where he is, though the book is written in the third person). I'd rather read a book written in your voice than in your subject's.
9:54 AM Nov 25th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Regarding Clyde Kluttz, for those interested in my diversionary research, he was not related to Mickey Klutts (N.B. spelling) at all. I did notice a name change that reminded me of the old joke:

JUDGE: What is your name?
PETITIONER: Gene Ellis Klutts
JUDGE: And what would you like to change your name to?
PETITIONER: Mickey Klutts, your Honor.

The original, I think, began with Roosevelt-haters:

J: What's your name?
P: Franklin Delano Shitt
J: And what would you like to change your name to?
P: Joe Shitt, your Honor.

I mean, you're an athlete with the last name "Klutts" and you're going to change your first name?

And to give a more respectful answer to Maris' point, as long as I'm clear on what my biases are, I think pointing out the quarrels I have with Lockwood's narrative alerts you all to whether or not you're likely to enjoy his memoir. I'm a stickler for well-constructed (and scrupulously accurate) narratives. If you're inclined to think, "I don't care about that stuff" then you're free to disregard my perspective and to believe reading this book is a worthy use of your time.

The one passage I did admire was Lockwood describing a museum tour he did with Tom Seaver. He tells how Seaver described an oil painting (I think it was one of Monet's Water Lilies series), and how he sounded knowledgable about the craft of painting. It wasn't eye-opening analysis by any means, more like a freshman Art History survey, but it did validate Seaver's sincere interest in art, which I knew about from my encounter with the man at the New York State Museum that I described in this space a few years ago.



9:05 AM Nov 25th
 
amartone
"From rooming with Catfish Hunter to sharing a locker with Satchel Paige to being the first ever Red Sox free agent signing, Skip Lockwood had a remarkable life in pro baseball. His book shares many of these stories in an authentic way."

Not for nothing, as they say in my neck of the woods, but the Red Sox signed at least seven free agents (Bill Campbell, Mike Torrez, Jack Brohamer, Dick Drago, Tom Burgmeier, Steve Renko and Tony Perez) in the three years prior to signing Lockwood on Nov. 27, 1979.
6:43 AM Nov 25th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Maris--you make a good point, that people enjoyed this book despite the many sloppy goofs, structureless rambles, and errors of fact it commits. Some people are looking for inspiration, which I am not, in sports books, and some passages do provide inspiration. I'm inspired, when I am, by stories that actually check out when exposed to the slightest scrutiny, and dismayed by stories that are unlikely, impossible, or clearly fictional. Your mileage may vary.
5:30 AM Nov 25th
 
Steven Goldleaf
No, Maris, he doesn't mention his undergrad career at all, which is odd again because it was so unusual--he probably ties the record for "Most colleges attended as an active MLBer" and his graduate career is peculiar too. He attended a lot of different grad schools, picking up a few Master's degrees (he claims), including one at MIT, but he just mentions this stuff in passing, like the rest of his details. It would make for an interesting chapter or two, especially because the graduate degrees were in something very like "physiology" or whatever Mike Marshall got his Ph.D. in. (Lockwood says he started a Ph.D. program too, which is like starting an entire 14-pound Thanksgiving turkey by yourself--the hard part is finishing it, not starting it.) He talks a little bit about the physiological stuff, but it doesn't amount to much more than a rah-rah talk about dedication to your craft, and pay attention to what you're doing, stuff like that.

Ball of Fire--I thought of Clyde Kluttz, too, but I got sidetracked looking up whether Mickey Kluttz was related to him, and how they got through the daily trauma of that name. Also "Chicken a la King" is another possible misremembered name, which reminded me of "Chicken Catcher Torre," yet another rabbit-hole that distracted me.

Rob--you actually read this book? Amazin'. The whole long passage about Dahlgren (whose last name he never mentions, btw, which is weird in itself--we need to do a little detective work just to figure out who the hell this belligerent "Neanderthal" BP pitcher named "Babe" even is) is whacky. I recommend that people click on the link I provided just to read up on the controversy that alerted me to this book's existence. That is one p.o.ed grandson defending his grandpa while eviscerating Lockwood. Not mentioning the name "Dahlgren" is peculiar (Did he think that would fend off a lawsuit? From a dead guy? Or did he not remember Babe's last name? Either seems plausible.) But Lockwood left a lot of names out of his index, which may have been compiled by a semi-pro indexer or possibly by a highly skilled team of chimpanzees. Clyde King, for example, is not mentioned in the index, either, among many others Lockwood omits, as if including names referenced in your index is merely optional.

I had a lot of personal but irrelevant material to relate to in this review that I never got to--I attended a few Denver Bears' games that Felipe Alou managed, for example, living in my grad school housing at D.U. in the early 1980s, which was fun--Mile High Stadium was a pre-Coors launching pad in those pre-expansion days. And one of Lockwood's grad schools was an attempted M.S. at Columbia that he describes briefly--I had just told a funny, if completely irrelevant, story about my first experience in the old (and I mean OLD) Columbia gym in the early 1970s that Lockwood almost certainly went into a few times if he did any physiology study at C.U. but again it seemed diversionary here. His story about Felipe Alou releasing him from the Bears for the final time in 1980 was a rare anecdote that revealed a little bit about the nature of the man Lockwood was trying to describe. "Insight" pitching, indeed--that was exactly what was lacking here, any real insight into all the colorful personalities Lockwood encountered.

5:18 AM Nov 25th
 
MarisFan61
The kind of content you both are talking about isn't the only kind of "content." For one thing, as I indicated in the first Comment, there are things about his own unusual life path that seem interesting enough, and that's content.
But moreover, here are some takes from people who had a very different view, and who I imagine see "content" differently.

These are excerpts from some customer reviews on Amazon -- quite representative excerpts.

"...an intriguing book...He is appropriately humble, very thoughtful, extremely incisive...and even offers poetry. Skip Lockwood has written a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it."

"a thoughtful and intriguing book..."

"A very honest voice, with amazing lessons for the young player and interesting reminisces for those of a certain age. It's not an exaggeration to say I've read hundreds of baseball books -- nor to number this one among the best."

"A terrific yarn about an amazing athlete and his remarkable tenacity. Filled with "insights'" into a pitcher's mindset and delightful anecdotes."

" one of the finest baseball books I have ever read.....brings an unusual literary sensibility to the task of inviting the reader inside the mind of a major league pitcher...His use of metaphor in describing baseball situations adds a depth of expression and style that is a rarity among sports books....Mr. Lockwood's intelligence is on full display....He shares in great detail the techniques he developed for visualizing a game and an encounter with a batter before they would ever happen.....a thoroughly engaging and instructive window into America's game...."

.........and, if you're looking for more kinds of content:

"From rooming with Catfish Hunter to sharing a locker with Satchel Paige to being the first ever Red Sox free agent signing, Skip Lockwood had a remarkable life in pro baseball. His book shares many of these stories in an authentic way."
4:50 AM Nov 25th
 
robneyer
My Goodreads review:

Extra star for creativity/originality, and hardly your typical baseball memoir. Almost nothing about other characters, with exception of short passages about teammates Ed Charles and Tom Seaver; coaches Felipe Alou, Babe Dahlgren, and (the) Jesse Owens; and Charlie Finley, whom Lockwood seems to have greatly admired. Most of the book is flowery description of Lockwood’s emotions and sensations while in uniform.

So, yeah. Basically content-free.​
12:37 AM Nov 25th
 
Fireball Wenz
Maybe he meant Clyde Kluttz, not King? Kluttz was a KC scout who signed Catfish Hunter.
12:23 AM Nov 25th
 
shthar
Are we sure skip really existed? Did George Plimpton write this?


12:04 AM Nov 25th
 
OldBackstop
"The point is, the pacing is all wrong,.."

Rofl...Goldleaf is going to be struck by lightning.​
9:50 PM Nov 24th
 
MarisFan61
(I meant that his name was the one player name that we took such note of.)
9:33 PM Nov 24th
 
MarisFan61
Just a stray comment, not germane to anything. (Actually that's a given for most of what I say.) :-)

I saw him in a game I went to during that 18 year old season of his, 1965, during his (very brief) position player career -- probably Aug. 15 (as I gather from the game logs). He was the one player on the A's that I and my friends took note of, and said it a few times on the way home, because we thought it was a hilarious name (because we thought the announcer said Skip Lumpwood).
Of course I never heard of him for a few years after that, and when there was again a Skip Lockwood, a pitcher, it didn't occur to me that it might be the same guy. It was news to me, long after, that it was, even though this Skip Lockwood pitcher was in the town where I was living and where I went to a fair number of the games during his time there.

I see also (didn't know) that he was probably in school right near me during those years. I see that he went to a couple of colleges in the Milwaukee area -- Carroll College and Marquette -- presumably at least in part during his time with the Brewers, probably just during the off seasons. I see further that this guy who (probably) quit school to come to organized baseball at 18 not only wound up going to college but also got a graduate degree at M.I.T.

Does he not talk about all this school stuff in his book? I'd guess he does.
BTW the wiki article on him doesn't.
9:32 PM Nov 24th
 
 
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