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Latest News on Mendoza’s Heroes

by Al Pepper

 

“Fascinating biographies from baseball's fringe.” – Legends of Sports Newsletter

 

Mendoza's Heroes is Here.

 

Greetings, ladies and gents.  Mendoza’s Heroes continues to gain momentum. Books are getting sold and the reviews have been very favorable. Check out the latest one from esteemed baseball author David Nemec. The great Herman Franks, himself (he's 88 now), called me and thanked me for a job well done. My publisher told me that Mrs. Dan Briggs ordered five copies.

With the millionaire ballplayers of today poised to shut down baseball indefinitely because every one of them thinks its their birthright to get A-Rod money, bear in mind, the most money any of the "Heroes" ever made, in a single season, was a mere $200K. It may be refreshing to the baseball fan to see how it was in the days of the reserve clause -- when owners told players "Take it or leave it," or read about a guy like Larry Owen, who had to forego working out in the off-season, and get a real job.

The Pocol Press web site, publisher of Mendoza's Heroes is looking quite spiffy. Tom Hetrick always has discount deals on my book and other great titles.

 

As I am wont to say, this is the most unique book in the baseball world. With an estimated 95% of baseball biographical literature focused on just 250 or so players (Ruth, Mantle, and Mays books, as I call them), Mendoza's Heroes is loaded with cult players, history makers, and true "baseball men." No matter whom your favorite team is, Mendoza's Heroes has something for you. Buy the book. You will not be disappointed. 

Review of Mendoza’s Heroes Featured in Utica, NY Newspaper.

Gene "Two Finger" Carney writes a weekly baseball log for the Utica Observer Dispatch, entitled “Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown.”  Carney’s notes include everything from current events to historical facts with respect to “the National Pastime”. 

 

In his April 3 edition of “Notes…” Carney did a pre-publication review of Mendoza’s Heroes.  Here is a condensed version of the review:

 

WHOSE LINE IS IT, ANYWAY?

When I was invited by SABRite Al Pepper to review his book Mendoza's Heroes: 50 Batters Below .200 (Pocol Press, 2002) even before it was published, I agreed, but I warned Al that I knew Mario Mendoza, and he was no .200 hitter. He hit .215 in his undistinguished career, and I only knew that because Mario was once a Pirate. But why quibble, most baseball fans know the phrase "the Mendoza Line," and know what it means.

In Heroes, Al Pepper works hard to tell fifty stories of ballplayers that finished their careers with batting averages below .200.  Besides the sub-.200 average, here are the criteria: 200 plate appearances in a major league (no cups-of-coffee types); the majority of games played as a position player (no pitchers); and no games played since 1996 (no active players, like the Hall of Fame.) Anybody spring to mind? Anybody?

The most famous selection in Heroes is probably Tony LaRussa, although thanks to TV and movies, Bob Uecker may be more recognizable to the average fan. (To be fair to Ueck, he hit .1997, but Pepper refused to round up, like the record book, and readers will be glad about this, since this story is one of the most interesting, and funny.)

This is one of those books…that different fans will find interesting for different reasons. For example, three of the six "heroes" (probably not the most accurate term) chosen from the period 1920-1962 -- Herman Franks, Charlie Metro, and Gair Allie -- were of interest to me because they were familiar names. Met fans will read every word about Choo-Choo Coleman; Reds fans will do the same for Bill Plummer, the catcher who played behind Johnny Bench. 'Way behind.

I was surprised that Brian Doyle, a post-season hero for the 1978 Yankees, was a lifetime .161 -- turns out that nine of his lifetime forty-one hits came in that October. Another surprise was Charlie Manuel -- what a great salesman this guy must be, to convince anyone to hire him as batting instructor after a career .198!

…I found myself applauding Al Pepper's effort to make his heroes interesting. At times, he succeeded, but at other times, he fell -- well, below the literary Mendoza Line. And it was not all his fault, some of his subjects were just too plain.

The research makes the book worth the look. It took the author years to track down the players, and he obviously spent a lot of time in old newspaper accounts and box scores. There is almost excitement when a hero goes on a tear, or wins a game with a clutch hit, or pounds the only homer of their career.

The book is well-organized, and the stats are all there at the end -- in case readers had doubts, I guess, that these heroes were really that inept as hitters. Hey, they made a book, how bad can they be? Oh ... never mind. But they were, as Pepper reminds us, good enough to play at the game's top level. Not well, not for long, but good enough to -- make a top fifty list.

The complete article can be found here.