Let me tell you that I cringed when I got this book since I am a lifelong Cardinal fan. But once I dove into the book it was a good read. Lolich tells a few stories that relate to how he got to be a pitcher in the major leagues. One part talks about being right-handed until he had a motorcycle fall on him as a youngster and hurt his left shoulder badly, His parents did some things that would be considered cruel in today’s society to get him to rehab the arm and shoulder. This led to a strong left hand for throwing.
He shares that he never touched a baseball until he was around 12 years old and instantly discovered he could throw harder than the other kids. This led to a discovery by the scouts. From there he was offered two contracts that were not exactly equal in pay. One came from the Yankees, his favorite team due to Whitey Ford, and the other was from the Detroit Tigers. Being from Oregon, he had no idea what was in either city so he enlisted the help of his parents and relatives to make a decision.
In the major he has some ups and downs and actually leaves baseball for a short period of time only to have his dad, who has no interest in sports, to get him to try it again. From Portland to the major leagues he makes it to Detroit. Lolich wears his emotions on his sleeve as he talks about losing games and then the dreadful night in Detroit when the riots rock the city. He is in the National Guard and for the first and only time is activated to protect parts of the city and carry a rifle.
He mentions how disappointed the Tigers were in 1967 that they came close but were eliminated on the last day. That caused them to be hungry for the 1968 season and motivate them to win so they can heal the city of Detroit.
Each game of the World Series is discussed in detail including the bad games of Denny McLain had during the biggest stage of his life. Then Mickey, the pudgy lefthander, gets the ball in three games in the Series and makes the most of it that cement his life into the hearts of the fans.
The last several chapters deal with his years of decline, disappointment in some of his previous friends in baseball, and the retirement years to feed his family. This is a very good baseball read. I felt there was one time the book presented a fact out of order but I can overlook that for the awesome baseball knowledge coming from a World Series MVP.
I would like to thank Triumph Books for sending this copy to me in exchange for an honest and fair book review.
About the Authors:
Tom Gage covered the Tigers beat for the Detroit News from 1979 to 2014. In 2015, Gage won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Mickey Lolich pitched in the major leagues for 17 years. He is best known for his three complete-game victories in the 1968 World Series. Jim Leyland managed the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2013. He resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.