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    Even before the start of spring training, Herzog had said, 'If Rich Billings is the starting catcher
    again, we're in deep trouble.'  When that evaluation was passed along to Billings, he simply nodded
    and said, 'Whitey, obviously, has seen me play.'
        -Mike Shropshire, Seasons in Hell

Despite some funny moments, the presence of many colorful characters, and several infamous incidents, Mike Shropshire's account of several tumultuous years of early Texas Rangers' history just isn't terribly good.  Sure, it's fun to see Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Rico Carty, Lenny Randle, and company in action.  Yeah, it's amusing to relive 10-cent beer night in Cleveland and heartbreaking to see Texas ownership throw David Clyde into the fire of major league competition at age eighteen, just to sell tickets.  But much of the rest of the book is either juvenile or self-absorbed, or worst of all, inaccurate.

The main influence on Shropshire appears to have been Ball Four; he seems to think the fact that ballplayers (and coaches and sportswriters) drink, swear, and chase skirts, is both newsworthy and hilarious.  He is mistaken.  (Though there is one piece of scatological humor that nearly makes the rest worthwhile : the letters in the name "Spiro Agnew" can be rearranged to form the phrase "Grow a Penis")  He also apparently thinks that his own life is as compelling as the misadventures of the team he was covering.  He is mistaken.  Finally, in recreating his thoughts, circa 1973, he summons up memories of Attention Deficit Disorder, Leslie Nielsen as a comic airline pilot, and Victoria's Secret Catalogues.  If he thinks these things would have been known to him in those years, he is mistaken.

Particularly given the material he had to work with, this is a disappointing book.


Grade: (C-)


See also:

Sports (Baseball)
Book-related and General Links:
    -EXCERPT : Damned Rangers  : The Texas Rangers better win the pennant this year, if only to atone for subjecting fans to two decades of baseball hell. Mike Shropshire chronicles  the team's cursed early years in an exclusive Observer excerpt. (Mike Shropshire, August 22, 1996, Dallas Observer)
    -ESSAY : Just Win, Baby!  How Dallas Became the Best Sports Town in the World ( Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : The Magic of Jim Lites :  President of both the super Stars and the Rangers, Jim Lites hopes to bring the same glitter to baseball that he has to hockey. (Mike Shropshire and Richard Urban, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Reporter's Notebook :  When former Cowboy Mark Tuinei died after taking heroin and ecstasy last May, the local sports media backed off the story. Why? (Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Five Laws of Life: How Tom Landry Learned to Win : Before he coached the Cowboys on the dangerous fields of the NFL, Tom Landry piloted B-17s over the treacherous skies of Germany.  (Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Street Talk: Andy Moog's Ice Capade : How does a former NHL All-Star make it big in minor league hockey? Easy. Break every rule in the book.  (Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : The Legend of Harry Hines :  An insider's guide to the notorious Harry Hines-the boulevard, not the man. (Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Media: The Clown Prince of Dallas :  Dale Hansen's on- and off-air antics have earned him a few enemies. But those antics have also made him the most talked about sportscaster in town. (Mike Shropshire, D Magazine)
    -ESSAY :  Video downs : Grand Prairie's horseless Lone Star Park offers the seedy side of the sport of kings (Mike Shropshire, Dallas Observer, 10/09/1996)
    -REVIEW : of Seasons In Hell by Mike Shropshire  (ERIK SPANBERG, Creative Loafing)
    -AWARD Nomination : Casey Award (Spitball, The Literary Baseball Magazine)

    -ESSAY : Flashbacks :10-Cent Beer Night Cleveland Municipal Stadium / June 4, 1974 (James G. Robinson, CBS Sportsline)