Monday, July 7, 2014

Jim Brosnan

I was doing my usual morning review of all of my news feeds in Feedly when I came across a link on the St Louis Post Dispatch web site that I had no idea about. Jim Brosnan had passed away at the age of 84. Brosnan was a pitcher for the Cubs, Cardinals, Reds and the White Sox in the 50's and 60's. However, he was much more well-known as a writer.

When I was a teenager, I used to frequent used book stores. One day, I picked up a book that looked interesting called "Pennant Race". It was a diary of the 1961 Cincinnati Reds pennant winning season chronicled by a pitcher named Jim Brosnan. It was one of the best books I ever read sports or not. It predated Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" by a decade. It was a great book for a baseball fan giving all sort of inside information about the game, player/manager relationships and some of the things that go on in baseball behind the scenes (without being vulgar like Bouton's book). I found out later that there was a previous book called "The Long Season" that chronicled Brosnan's 1959 season with the St Louis Cardinals (and after he was traded that summer) and the Cincinnati Reds. I remember checking the book out from the library. I tagged my younger brother with the nickname "Rooms" taken from Brosnan's book "Pennant Race". Brosnan called his roommate Howie Nunn that. Years later (with my original Pennant Race book long gone), I bought both books and read them over and over again. Brosnan's hope of making the 1961 All-Star game and his disappointment of not being chosen by Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh come to mind even now as the All Star teams have been selected. I have even enjoyed looking at to see the boxscores of the games Brosnan describes in his books and how accurate his writings really were. Brosnan was a very intelligent man mentioning numerous books he had read and being given the nickname "Professor".

Brosnan never wrote any more books like these (unfortunately). The White Sox tried to put a clause in his last contract that he not write any more such books and rather than agree to that, he retired. He stuck to writing though authoring other sports books including children's books, but none seemed anywhere near as good as these two were. He was a groundbreaker of the baseball book that is commonplace now. I'll most likely have to pull them down soon and re-read them again.