Bookshelf Review: Dustin Pedroia's "Born To Play"

Ron KaplanContributor ISeptember 5, 2010


My Life in the Game, by Dustin Pedroia wuth Edward J. Delaney. SSE, 2009.

In past entries, I’ve written about “flavor of the month,” a memoir or autobiography written by a player with limited Major League experience who tries to capitalize on a special event or a great season? Born to Play falls into this category.

And don’t get me wrong; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But think of it this way:How many players are there in the Majors at anyone one time? About 750.

Every one of them has some kind of story to tell, but most are pretty much the same. Major ups to them all for making it to The Show.

As much as fans complain about the relative worth (and sometimes questionable ancestry) of these athletes, these few, these happy few have done something few others have accomplished.

So generally speaking—allowing for those who might have made it but for one reason or anther had to give up the opportunity—the worst major league baseball player is better than the best layperson.

All this is a long way of getting to Pedroia’s story. He collaborated with Delaney, an “award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and fiction writer” according to the book’s credits, to produce this genial little book following his MVP year in 2008.

The moral of his story, I suppose, is don’t give up on your dream. While most books of a half-century ago deal with some kind of adversity—poverty, illness, etc.

Pedroia merely overcame the prejudice that comes from expectations of what an athlete should look like (see also, John Kruk’s “I Ain’t an Athlete, Lady…”).

Listed at 5’9″, 180 pounds, Pedoria is certainly among the smaller players these days, so it’s a question of “Don’t tell me what I can’t do,” one of my favorite lines from Lost. Yet, the spunky little infielder was a star at every level of play, from Little League to college, to the minors, and now with the Red Sox.

In between chapters are testimonials from Pedroia’s family, friends, teammates, and fans (including Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruth’s granddaughter) attesting to the ballplayer’s grit. It’s a nice little tale of perseverance, but ultimately,  there’s no dirt, only a few curses, and a little lack of color to make Born to Play stand out from the rest of the genre.

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