Dustin Pedroia – Born to Play
Dustin is a very young man, born a year after I was married. He is still going at 28 years, and while he has had a very interesting life, maybe he should have waited to write his memoir. Co-author Edward J. Delaney has done a wonderful job of getting through to the real Dustin. Telling us of his days as a kid playing in baseball games above his age level. His family is incredibly supportive of him, never once doubting his small size would keep him from playing the game he loved. It would have been nice for him to say once and for all, just how tall he is. The Boston Red Sox list him as 5'9” when he was in college at Arizona State he was listed at 5'8”. USA Today in 2003 listed his height at 5'7”
He has picked a great place to start his story, October 27, 2007 when a security guard denied him entrance Coors field. The guard, who has remained nameless had to have confirmation that the little guy with the big talent did belong out on the field with his team mates.
The very next chapter is given over to a “Scout For a National League Team (who wishes to remain anonymous) He gets six pages to wander about what the Red Sox saw in Dustin that he did not. How he has seen Dustin move forward as a much faster pace, with fewer missed steps.
Then we jump back, almost all the way to the beginning of his sporting career. Yes he starts with an early shoulder injury at the age of 12, and how it never held him back. He followed his older brother on to the Shasta College and played several games with the college team. Before he gets to much into the difference between playing for each group the chapter ends.
Our next guest author, and our first personalized chapter comes from Rob Rinaldi, his former High School couch. This shows us the journey Dustin took to becoming the play he is today. I found it jarring to go from reading in Dustin's style then suddenly dropped in a different style for five or six pages. It mad it hard for me to transfer back to reading the chapters Dustin might have written.
The first collage any good west coast ball player would look to is Arizona and Dustin took a ride down with his family. An exciting time in any ones life, but for Dustin a jump forward. Lead by guest author Ron McNutt Coach of the Carson Capitols in Carson City, NV. Dustin also gives Arizona State University head Baseball Coach, Pat Murphy a chance to reminisce about Dustin and his skill at playing the game.
Dustin takes control of the narrative again, to share with us his time at Arizona State, his time with Team USA, and something I wish he had given more information about. His giving up his full scholarship to Arizona State to team mate Ben Thurmond. He gave us the scholarship not just because his parent could afford to cover his tuition, while Ben's could not; but also because with the addition of Ben, his team had a better chance to go to the College World Series. This amazing show of team spirit and humility shows a amazing level of maturity in such a young man. I wish we had learned more about his decision. Not giving Ben a chapter of his own, for that is done way to often, but give us a bit more of his thought process.
Dustin also shares with us his first taste of Boston Massachusetts and the Boson Red Sox. His changing planes at Logan Airport teaches him we talk funny. His being drafted by the Red Sox, in their first pick of the 2004 draft was a big surprise to him as no one from the team had spoken to him before the draft. He learns the special joy that happens when you go from playing the game of baseball to working at the game of playing baseball. It sounded incredibly hard, a real mental and physical meat grinder that was ready to spit him out in a second. He loved it, and I am sure every person reading his book would be willing to trade places with him, I would and I'm twice his age and female.
He goes back to allowing other people to write about him giving us guest chapters by Ben Cherington; Senior VP & Assistant GM of the Red Sox, Ben Johnson Manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Steve Hyder the Play by Play Announcer for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Terry Francona the Manager of the Boston Red Sox and even his wife Kelli Pedroia. Even Alex Cora gets a few pages to share how it felt to compete with Dustin for a spot in the infield.
When he got to the chapter telling us about his first game playing against the San Francisco Giants and catching a pop up from Barry Bonds, I half expected to see a chapter from Barry giving us his opinion on how well Dustin caught that ball. But instead we get words of wisdom from Dave Magadan the teams hitting coach. At least the chapter about the 2007 Victory parade is told from his view point, and not the view point of some one in the crowd. That is for Julia Ruth Stevens a Red Sox fan from Conway New Hampshire. Telling us how wonderful it was to be named American League Rookie of the year and American League Most Valuable Player in the same year is the Boston Center field legend Fred Lynn
Then we get a few chapters on how hard he plays any game, be it cribbage or Ping Pong with Mike Lowell who apparently kicks his ass in both. Then another Red Sox fan, Adam Speakman gets a chance to share how special it is to see a smaller man playing Baseball. Dustin takes over the narrative once again to share a quick chapter about the entire 2008 season. He then turns the story over to Mike Lowell for another short chapter on what it is like playing with Dustin.
All told, Born to Play is a 261 page book where 56 pages almost one fifth of the book is not written by Dustin. While I will recommend this book to hard core Red Sox fans, and mostly for the chance to get an autograph. I think Dustin should have waited a few years longer to write a memoir.
If I might be so humble to suggest, when Kevin Youkilis writes his own book, he should go the Leonard Nimoy route and call it “I am not – The Greek God of Walks”