Baseball holds the interest of its fans during the off-season to a degree unknown to other professional sports. The NFL can gain headlines if a coach is hired, a franchise shifted, or a famous college player is drafted. The NBA and the NHL get hardly any notice at all when the season is over. Only baseball has a Grapefruit League (the closely reported doings of clubs in spring training) and a Hot Stove League (rumors, trades, and contract signings during the winter). A BASEBALL WINTER chronicles those two “seasons” for five major league teams during the winter of 1984-1985.
The book was written by a team of sports writers from the areas of the five teams. All of them are experienced journalists with close relationships to the teams involved. The entire book was then edited by Pluto and Neuman. The book takes the form of a diary of the activities of each teams’ management as it tries to cope with the complexities of modern baseball contracts, the press, its own personnel peculiarities, and the coming season. Even nonfans will find the management and financial dealings of the clubs fascinating. Baseball business both does and does not resemble ordinary business: At one moment a club may be engaging in perfectly normal contract discussions, at another, it can be trying to cope with people like Ernie Camacho, who signed his autographs “Ernie Camacho, Number 13” even though his uniform number was 42--Camacho felt he was “really a 13.”
Fans will have their best or worst suspicions about their teams confirmed by some of the actions of team executives and players. Indeed, A BASEBALL WINTER could almost serve in some ways as a management text--the success of the teams on the field mirrors the excellence or awfulness of the team’s executives in a dreadful but fascinating way.
No true baseball fan will want to miss A BASEBALL WINTER.