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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review - Jim Kaat: "Still Pitching" (Excerpt)

Jim Kaat is one of the best to ever toe the rubber for the Minnesota Twins, winning 283 games in his pitching career. That is commendable in itself. But what has made him marketable far past the boundaries of his career is his grasp of the language of his sport, and making plain the nuances of pitching for the pedestrian fan on his baseball telecasts. This autobiography flows very nicely, and really captures the voice and humor of Kaat.

 Here ) is a podcast from a year ago. I think you'll enjoy his views of his old teammate Camilo Pascual and then-Twin Francisco Liriano:



Strides in straight line towards homeplate, squares off
shoulders to face the batter, in position to field the ground ball..
any wonder how Jim Kaat won sixteen straight gold gloves?
 Kaat WAS the clinic........

Jim Kaat pitched with Pascual, Dean Chance and Steve Carlton, Jim Perry and Wilbur Wood, and against Sandy Koufax and Catfish Hunter, Luis Tiant, and Tom Seaver. This fellow has rubbed shoulders with the very best, and it would be hard to find a better man from whom to get as many great stories about the Golden Age of Pitching, or from one better prepared to tell them.

 It would be great to get the whole book to read here, but that's what libraries are for. I will say that I completely enjoyed Kaat's workmanlike, humble attitude about his career, and how completely relevant for the modern game are his theories for the craft of pitching. I loved the story of how he attempted to impart his strategies for Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina (Ch. 11), and just got a quizzical stare, as if he was nuts! Sometimes the most down-to-earth, practical truisms are the most difficult to comprehend!

Personal favorite in this excerpt? Chapter 12 (click "Contents"), "Work Fast...Throw Strikes...Stay Ahead," is a great treatise by Jim on those theories! He references Johnny Sain, Ray Miller, and some of the other renouned pitching coaches of the last 50 years. I read this book several years ago after a double hernia operation, when I could essentially do nothing, or go anywhere exept stay confined to my bed for several days. It was the best "sick" gift I've ever received (thanks to my wonderful Mother-In-Law Audrey!). 

Enjoy this excerpt!

As the great broadcaster ended his postgames, I say to you:
"So long, everybody!" (Herb Carneal)



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