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Still Pitching: Musings from the Mound and the Microphone Hardcover – 1 Apr 2003

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Sinatra did it his way. Kaat does it the right way. 6 July 2003
By Anthony Rocks - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this book an inordinately refreshing change of pace from the usual self-aggrandizing, back-biting, and vituperative drivel that one often finds in books of this nature. Instead of bludgeoning his readers with an endless series of cheap ad hominem attacks on his ex-teammates, or whining incessantly about the "wanton cruelty" of the "mass media" (again, an all too common feature in sports biographies these days), Mr. Kaat conveys to his readers something much more profound here: His undying and unconditional love for the sport he played.
While it may seem almost Kafkaesque to laud an ex-athlete for "doing the right thing" in his memoirs, that is not to say, however, that Mr. Kaat doesn't offer any criticism of some the men that he played with. It is just done tactfully, and in a manner that is devoid of the sort of malignant narcissism that one finds in say, David Wells' Tell-all tale.
Indeed, this book does feature more than its fair share of criticism against those who Mr. Kaat feels could have done more to help themselves, and their respective teams. For example:
- Did you know that Harmon Killebrew, while a great ballplayer, lacked the sort of leadership skills that one would hope for in a star of that magnitude? His passivity, especially with regards to his sheepish acceptance of any contract offered him by ownership, helped to undermine the position of many of his teammates when negotiating contracts.
Remember, this was long before professional athletes earned the sort of money they do today. They measured their financial success, as did most Americans at that time, in the tens of thousands, not the tens of millions that they do today.
- Did you know that George Steinbrenner, while always willing to spend millions on high-profile free agents, was capable of lying to and then chiseling aging veterans, like Jim Kaat, out of a meager few thousand dollars? (hehe...surprised? Nor was I).

Now, Mr. Kaat does not frame his criticism of King George in quite the same way as I did above. But his anger was, nonetheless, evident. There are, of course, more such examples of this book's critical offerings, but the two I've provided above should suffice.
Any Yankee fan, like me, who has listened to Mr. Kaat broadcast Yankee games for the past nine years, knows that he is literally a bottomless well of baseball anecdotes. One of my favorites from his book is the story he tells about Graig Nettles, the great Yankee third baseman from 1973-83, who had started his career with Minnesota in late-60s.
Kaat and Nettles had been good friends during their days together in Minnesota. Subsequently, after Nettles had been traded to Cleveland and then to New York, the two faced each other many times, with Nettles usually getting the better of Kaat. Kaat speculates that this was so because they had been such good friends in Minnesota. Nettles, therefore, felt comfortable batting against Kaat-too comfortable. One night, Nettles, while batting against Kaat, was being pestered by a moth that kept flying around his face. Nettles jokingly barked out at Kaat, "hey Jim, was that your fastball?" Angered by this, and by all the previous success that Nettles had had against him, Kaat threw the next pitch, a fastball, right under Nettles' chin. Nettles fell backward and looked out at Jim in stunned disbelief. Suffice it to say, Nettles never again enjoyed the same success against Kaat after that.
That is but one of many charming stories that Jim shares with his readers. This is a book that any true baseball fan will enjoy reading. Mr. Kaat's sincerity, straight-forwardness, and love for the game of baseball is as refreshing as a cold iced-tea is on a hot summers day...a day which is perfect for baseball.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A throwback biography 30 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you remember the typical sports biography before Jim Bouton wrote Ball Four, arguably the best baseball book -- and the only sports book on the New York Times top 100 books of the last millennium -- this is that "good old days" genre.
Kaat, with Phil Pepe, is a long way from David Wells, who now plays for the team for which Kaat announces, the New York Yankees. And the difference just isn't in the books Wells and Kaat had published this year. Wells will finish with about 80 fewer career wins than Kaat, but most certainly has more headlines than Kaat ever did. Considering the careers of the two, that seems somewhat unfair. Not that Kaat would complain.
You'll have to read between the lines when Kaat dislikes someone, although it's clear everything in his 25-year major league career wasn't a "gee whiz experience." In fact, it could be argued Kaat's book is an exercise in tact. His restraint in personal attacks is almost an education.
If you grew up in the '50s or '60s -- particularly in the Midwest -- you might enjoy Kaat's book immensely. Surely Minnesota Twins' fans who have begun to read "Best Places to Retire" will enjoy it.
For any baseball fan, certainly the most poignant aspect that surfaces is baseball might be a warm game to play if you're in love with the sport, but it's a cold business. Despite his near Hall of Fame credentials, Kaat received his share of poor treatment in his career.
For instance, it certainly would surprise most fans under 25 that despite his statistics in Minnesota, he took a pay cut during 7 of his 13 years with the Twins. And when he details his releases from these teams, well, it doesn't say much about people who run the game. I suppose no real baseball follower will be surprised, but they might be interested.
Despite all that, it's clear Kaat's a good guy with more humility than you'll find among some people who work in middling "front office" positions in the game today.
I was a sports writer during the tail end of Kaat's career, and interviewed him a couple times after he left the game as a player. He's as classy and tactful in real life as he is in this book. He's far more entertaining in person or as a broadcaster than he is here.
Still, stories about advice dad gave him when it came time to sign his first pro contract are certainly interesting, and if you have a kid who is a budding big-leaguer maybe reading Kaat's book will educate the youngster about the game, offer some history and help make him a better person. I'd rather have my kid read Kaat than David Wells.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not Just Another Ex-Jock Book 29 Jan. 2004
By Thomas Stamper - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jim Kaat's 20+ years on the mound translates into a good understanding of pitching which benefits his announcing and his book writing. Instead of wasting time with gossip, he offers solid and concise analysis of baseball, much of it unconventional.
He thinks that pitchers shouldn't be running before ballgames, because they are strengthening the wrong muscles. Pitchers can best get in shape by pitching and conditioning the same muscles they will need when they are working late in a game. He also thinks that pitchers should be throwing everyday to keep those muscles limber. There must be something to it. When Kaat retired, no one had played as many seasons and his only stint on the DL was when he broke his arm sliding into second base.
He also thinks that pitchers get into trouble over-thinking situations. A good example is Mike Mussina, a Stanford graduate. Kaat makes a good case that there is no substitute for throwing strikes. He points out that even the best hitters can't hit every pitch out in batting practice when they know what's coming. Why do pitchers worry that putting it across the plate is going to be disaster? David Wells is his example of a guy who just battles the hitters with his best stuff.
The book is pretty short, because unlike most authors who go on and on about a subject hitting it at the edges, Kaat aims square in the middle and moves on to something else. The publisher's worry about the book's shortness has lead to a bunch of filler material like Kaat's Teammate All-Star teams and greatest catchers he's seen. There's also a section at the end full of newspaper stories written about Kaat during his playing career.
The main body of the book may be short, but the wisdom contained within is worth more than books twice the size. I think Jim Kaat could write a really good book in the style of George Will's MEN AT WORK if some publisher gave him the opportunity.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Very Easy Read 1 Sept. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book really captures Jim Kaat. Having listened to him broadcast over the years I could almost hear him speaking the words from this book. It's a nice story by a guy who doesn't have an axe to grind with anyone. It was also a great example of how someone can be very opinionated without being controversial or nasty. As another reviewer hinted, this won't go down as a landmark in sports literature, but it is a really nice, easy read and is an all-around interesting story.
Revealing Look at Baseball 26 July 2014
By K.A.Goldberg - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This revealing book by ex-pitcher Jim Kaat is part jock biography, part baseball analysis. Signed out of Zeeland, Michigan, Kaat briefly pitched for the Washington Senators at age of 20 in 1959. When the franchise left for Minnesota, Kaat helped the Twins win the 1965 pennant (squaring off thrice against Sandy Koufax in the World Series) and won 188 games for them from 1961-1973. Foolishly released by the Twins, Kaat won 21 and 20 games for the White Sox in 1974-75, then pitched for Phiadelphia, Yankees, and champion 1982 Cardinals. Finally released at age 44 in 1983, Kaat played in a then-record 25 big league seasons - a record since eclipsed by Tommy John and Nolan Ryan. Then it was on to being pitching coach for Cincinnati, where his non-conventional approach had pitchers run less, practice pushing off the mound more, and throw between starts to strengthen their arms. Finally, Kaat describes his years as a broadcaster, and analyzes the state of baseball circa 2003. All in all, this is an interesting look by an interesting man.

Note: In describing his 3-2 win over Oakland saved by Goose Gossage striking out two with men at first first and third, Kaat remembers the score as 2-1. No matter, great game.
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