Tales From The Blue Jays Dugout - book cover
This book came out this year but I hadn’t even heard about it until I saw it at the library (shoutout to the TPL!). I figured I’d give it a shot, because I like baseball stories as much as the next guy. The book is structured alphabetically by player (and occasional manager, coach, stadium, etc.), going from Ainge to Zaun in 137 entries.
Jim Prime, the author, has written several books on baseball (mostly Red Sox - and some co-writing with Ted Williams), and these stories do a good job of spanning all eras of the team - including lots of coverage of the underachieving 2013 team. He leans heavily on quotes from three people with a history with the team: Jerry Howarth, Paul Hodgson, and Matt Stairs. Hodgson and Stairs are, just like the author, east coast Canadian boys, and I can’t help but think that’s why they were kind enough to help him out. While I liked their insider views, I kept wishing he’d reached out to more players (Hodgson only played 20 games in 1980, and Stairs was only on the Jays in 2007-2008).
Overall I’d give it a so-so score. I didn’t mind hearing most of the stories I was familiar with (I found myself trying to anticipate what he’d talk about with each guy), and I certainly enjoyed some of the new-to-me stories (like one about pitcher Jose Nunez coming to bat in the spring with a warmup jacket on and a helmet with the wrong earflap, then switch-hitting instead of bothering to return to the dugout). However, I was turned off by the number of errors I came across (probably 10-12) and there are way too many corny joke attempts. For example, on Matt Stairs: “he lived in more cities than The Fugtive, had more uniform changes than a mud-wrestling team, and sported more numbers than a University of Waterloo math exam.” The bottom line is it’s a quick and easy read; if it was a movie I’d call it a rental, so I’m not sorry I took it out from the library but I’d probably be disappointed if I paid $26 for the hardcover.