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Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball's Most Enigmatic Slugger Hardcover – 10 Mar 2009
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Manny's family's story... before he became a baseball star... could just as easily been about any of the hundreds of thousands of other Dominican families that immigrated to New York. The authors peel back the character traits that now define Manny... and dig deep... historically... culturally... and environmentally... and the reader... perhaps for the very first time... learns how Manny "really" became Manny. Most fans probably don't realize how shy and timid Manny was. Among other things... the language barrier... heaped on top of his natural shyness... made him stand offish. His Mother worked all day in a factory... and his Father was not an instrumental part of his life. And this next statement will probably make most baseball fan's head snap back... Manny didn't have any confidence in himself. Even when he was a teenager with scouts saying he was the greatest player they ever saw. Most of today's fans just see the funny and controversial Manny. Some wonder how he hits so well? After reading this book... no one will have even the slightest doubt... as to why he's so successful. MANNY WORKS HARDER... AND IS MORE DEDICATED... THAN ALMOST ANY PLAYER I'VE HEARD ABOUT IN MY LIFETIME... and he's been that way since childhood. Living amidst the poverty... in Washington Heights New York... he would get up 4:30 in the morning... rain... shine... or snow... and run up Snake Hill... DRAGGING A TIRE FROM HIS WAIST! "Snake Hill rose more than two hundred feet from the western edge of Washington Heights, near sea level, to one of the highest points in Manhattan." If he had a game at 5:00pm... he was there taking hitting practice at 10:00am. Every coach and manager he has had throughout his career... said he was the hardest worker they ever had. Manny would beg his coaches to work with him after games.
In 1991 when Manny was nineteen he was named New York City Public School High School Player of the Year. His family didn't even know. It wasn't until 1993 when Manny was playing for the Canton Indians, Double-A team... that his Mother and three sisters ever saw him play baseball. As one former manager said: "MANNY SPENT HOURS HITTING BALLS. THIS GUY WAS DRIVEN. UNBELIEVABLY DRIVEN TO SUCCEED, FROM DAY ONE. BUT INCREDIBLY HUMBLE. HE ALWAYS DEFLECTED PRAISE AND ATTENTION, AND WANTED TO PRACTICE WHEN NOBODY WAS AROUND."
The true baseball fan will enjoy the discussions of the All-Star Seasons... the Championships won... and yes the base running blunders... and the fielding mishaps... but the true essence... of the experiences... of Manny's personal life... is what will deeply permeate... your heart and soul. This is where you will truly learn... and appreciate... why... *Manny is just being Manny!*
P.S. As a true-fanatical-statistical-baseball-fan... one thing that disappointed me is the mistake that was made on the page near the end of the book dedicated to Manny's lifetime statistics. It listed his lifetime batting average as .341 instead of the correct .314.
P.S.S. There is also an historical mistake on page 271 when the authors state: "He now had 495 career homers and had just passed Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig on the all-time list." This is a mistake. Ted Williams had 521 career home runs... so Manny didn't pass him until later on. These statistical mistakes in no way take away from the overall book, and I recommend it highly.
No matter where you fall in the Manny saga you will learn why Manny is Manny.