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Owning a Piece of the Minors (Writing Baseball)

by Jerome Klinkowitz

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"Owning a Piece of the Minors" is by and about a man who lived his dream and acquired a baseball team. When Jerry Klinkowitz joined the group that ran the Waterloo, Iowa, Diamonds in the 1970s, ownership of a minor league baseball franchise conferred little mystique. Neglected for a half century, minor league baseball was at best obscure. Yet in the purchase of fantasy, what difference if your desire is out of style?Klinkowitz continued his work with the Diamonds through the 1980s and much of the 1990s. In "Owning a Piece of the Minors," he maps out his personal journey through baseball and probes his fluctuating fortunes and those of his team as he evolves from a fan to a team executive and, most important, to a writer writing about baseball. This baseball story begins with a nine-year-old Klinkowitz who is elated when Milwaukee lures the Braves from Boston; this story of a love affair with baseball might have diedand in fact suffered a ten-year hiatuswhen the apostate Braves fled to Atlanta in 1965.Klinkowitz rediscovered the joy of being at the baseball park when, as a middle-aged professor, he took his own children to the Waterloo Diamonds games. Gradually his involvement with the Diamonds grew deeper until he owned the team. His immersion into team activities was complete, from shagging batting practice and working the beer bar to struggling with the Cleveland Indians and then the San Diego Padres as minor league affiliates to accommodate baseball's resurgence.Klinkowitz writes of lossfirst the Braves and later the Diamonds; of writing baseball fiction; of attending the 1982 World Series back in Milwaukee; of the great old ballparks around the country, including Wrigley, Fenway, and old Comiskey Park; of fictional and factual accounts of how the Diamonds franchise was lost; of friendships among season ticket holders in "Box 28"; and of Mildred Boyenga, the club president and Baseball Woman of the Year. A first-rate stylist, Klinkowitz shows the problems and perks and, most rewarding, the priceless relationships made possible in the world of baseball."… (more)

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Reread it in 2009, but I'll stand by the review I wrote when the book was new:

Jerry Klinkowitz, who teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, was one of the owners of the Waterloo Diamonds from 1978 until they were sold in 1994. This series of essays explores that experience from a variety of perspectives; he talks about how he got involved with the team, about how he wrote a novel (Short Season) based on his ownership experiences, about his grandstand neighbors, about team officer Mildred Boyenga, and about why the Diamonds failed.

Taken in isolation, each essay is excellent. They aren't so successful as a book. The main problem is repetition; many of essays cover the same general material and some of the stories get told several times. Said differently: The book's not very long, and about half of it could have been left out. Nonetheless, this is a valuable look at how baseball looked in Waterloo during the 80s, and is worth your time and a few of your dollars.



This short review was originally published on A Fan's Guide to the Midwest League and has been republished on a dabbler's journal. ( )
  joeldinda | Apr 3, 2009 |
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"Owning a Piece of the Minors" is by and about a man who lived his dream and acquired a baseball team. When Jerry Klinkowitz joined the group that ran the Waterloo, Iowa, Diamonds in the 1970s, ownership of a minor league baseball franchise conferred little mystique. Neglected for a half century, minor league baseball was at best obscure. Yet in the purchase of fantasy, what difference if your desire is out of style?Klinkowitz continued his work with the Diamonds through the 1980s and much of the 1990s. In "Owning a Piece of the Minors," he maps out his personal journey through baseball and probes his fluctuating fortunes and those of his team as he evolves from a fan to a team executive and, most important, to a writer writing about baseball. This baseball story begins with a nine-year-old Klinkowitz who is elated when Milwaukee lures the Braves from Boston; this story of a love affair with baseball might have diedand in fact suffered a ten-year hiatuswhen the apostate Braves fled to Atlanta in 1965.Klinkowitz rediscovered the joy of being at the baseball park when, as a middle-aged professor, he took his own children to the Waterloo Diamonds games. Gradually his involvement with the Diamonds grew deeper until he owned the team. His immersion into team activities was complete, from shagging batting practice and working the beer bar to struggling with the Cleveland Indians and then the San Diego Padres as minor league affiliates to accommodate baseball's resurgence.Klinkowitz writes of lossfirst the Braves and later the Diamonds; of writing baseball fiction; of attending the 1982 World Series back in Milwaukee; of the great old ballparks around the country, including Wrigley, Fenway, and old Comiskey Park; of fictional and factual accounts of how the Diamonds franchise was lost; of friendships among season ticket holders in "Box 28"; and of Mildred Boyenga, the club president and Baseball Woman of the Year. A first-rate stylist, Klinkowitz shows the problems and perks and, most rewarding, the priceless relationships made possible in the world of baseball."

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