In recent years it has become expectable for baseball players to write a
book about their experiences on and off the baseball diamond.
Jim Bouton's Ball Four and Sparky Lyle's The Bronx Zoo
were tales about the New York Yankees.
More than 20 years earlier, however, a Cincinnati pitcher penned a
forerunner to many of today's sports books. Jim Brosnan shook up the
baseball world in 1960 when his first book, The Long Season, a
75,000-word chronicle of the 1959 season, was published by Harpers.
"I was very naive," Brosnan said in an interview in 1976. "I was writing
as a guy who liked to read and wrote it the way I would have liked to
have seen it if I were picking it out to read.
"I wasn't aware I was breaking any taboos or attacking the establishment
nor did I feel as if I was a social revolutionary."
One segment of Brosnan's first book was not too complimentary to the St.
Louis Cardinals for whom Brosnan played part of the 1959 season until he
was acquired by the Reds.
St. Louis manager Solly Hemus
felt he was unjustly criticized and issued a steamy rebuttal to the
"unhappy days" Brosnan wrote about.
Brosnan's first effort was a
big hit with the book-buying public and he embarked on another. That
one, less controversial, was a basic diary of the 1961 season when the
Reds won the National League championship. Brosnan titled it
It, too, was a success, but
Brosnan never made enough from his writing to give up his baseball
Brosnan grew up on
Cincinnati's West Side, long a spawning ground for outstanding baseball
players. He was a better hitter than pitcher in high school, but after
he graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs
signed him as a pitcher.
He spent two full years with
Chicago, 1955-56. Then, after working in eight games in 1957, he was
dealt to the Cardinals.
After coming to Cincinnati in
1959, Brosnan was used almost exclusively as a relief pitcher. He made two early starts in
1960, was roughed up in both, and then went to the bullpen for the
remainder of his major league days.
In 1961 when the Reds
surprisingly won the pennant, Brosnan, a right-hander, formed a strong
one-two combination with Bill Henry, a left-hander. They won 12 games
between them, had 28 saves and appeared collectively in 100 games.
Early in the 1963 season,
Brosnan was sold to the Chicago White Sox and after posting a 3-8 record
for them, he retired.
If Brosnan's career as a
baseball-playing writer disappointed anyone, it probably was his mother. She wanted him to
become a doctor.