Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Book Review: The 33-Year-Old Rookie 

The jock bio is one of those subgenres of sports books that I usually can’t stand reading. Let’s face it: the typical athlete has a limited vocabulary and doesn’t write with much complexity. The words are simple, the prose is pedestrian and the plot is predictable. We’ve read them all before: blah blah blah, the athlete is extremely talented, does great things, yada yada yada. The problem with a biography, Bill Clinton once said, is that they are boring and self-serving. I greeted The 33-Year Old Rookie, Chris Coste’s tale of his battles to survive Independent League baseball and hook up with the Phillies in 2006, finally achieving his goal of making the major leagues, with some amount of skepticism when I picked it up. Another dull jock bio?

I found The 33-Year Old Rookie to be a pleasant surprise. The book itself has a different tone than the Dictaphone style that most jock bios are typically written in. Coste’s bubbling enthusiasm and joy for playing baseball clearly shine through. Coste has a sunny disposition throughout the book and gives the reader a vivid picture of the path his life took.

Many Phillies fans are familiar with the story, but I’ll rehash it a little here. Coste, the only son of a single mother in North Dakota, played Independent League baseball in North Dakota after Junior College and swiftly managed to catch on with the minor league systems of the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Phillies. Each time Coste would join a farm system, have success, but find the path to advancement thwarted by the fact that he was an Independent Leaguer and his unorthodox hitting style scared teams away. As time wore on Coste felt his dream of playing in the major leagues slipping away and he contemplated giving up or going overseas to playing Japan or Korea.

Ultimately Coste is successful and joins the Phillies after injuries sideline Sal Fasano and Mike Lieberthal in the summer of 2006. The palatable joy that flows from Coste describing the trip to Philadelphia from Scranton, the sensations of being at the ballpark for the first time, the eye-opening moment he took the field for the first time are all vividly described by Coste. No wooden prose, no dull clichés, Coste really does a nice job describing what it is like to be baseball player to the reader. Coste’s writing style is pretty good: conversational and informative, he always engages the reader and never turns this into a clunky book.

The parallel between Crash Davis the fictional character played by Kevin Costner in Bull Durham and Coste is obvious, though the two men couldn’t be further apart: Coste is a family man whose passion for making the big leagues has never left him. Costner’s Crash is single and embittered over his failure to make it back to the big leagues.

In the end I thoroughly enjoyed The 33-Year Old Rookie. This is a book that any fan of the game of baseball can pick up and enjoy.

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Concordia isn't quite a Juco, it is a Liberal arts college with quite a bit of a rep up in Minnesota. Not an easy school to get into, especially back in the early 90's.
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