Synopses & Reviews
Finalist for the 2014 Casey Award!
Selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the 2014 author's series
Brooks Robinson is one of baseballs most transcendent and revered players. He won a record sixteen straight Gold Gloves at third base, led one of the best teams of the era, and is often cited as the greatest fielder in baseball history. Credited with almost single-handedly winning the 1970 World Series, this MVP was immortalized in a Normal Rockwell painting. A wholesome player and role model, Brooks honored the game of baseball not only with his play but with his class and character off the field.
Author of The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych, Doug Wilson returns to baseballs Golden Age to detail the birth of a new franchise through the man who came to symbolize it as one of baseballs most beloved players. Through numerous interviews with people from every part of the legendary player's life, Wilson reveals never-before-reported information to illuminate Brooks's remarkable skill and warm personality.
Brooks takes readers back to an era when players fought for low-paying yearly contracts, spanning the turbulent 60s and 70s and into the dawning of the free agent era. He was elected to the MLB All-Century Team and as president of the MLB Players Alumni, Brooks continues to influence todays baseball players.
In the current climate of astronomic salaries, steroids, off-field troubles, and heroes who let down their fans, Brooks reminds baseball fans of the honor and glory at the heart of Americas favorite pastime.
"Many consider Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles the best third-baseman in baseball history a Hall of Famer whose well-honed defensive mastery, highlighted by his fielding gems in 1970 World Series, was so consistent teammates regarded it as routine. Robinson is also remembered as one of baseball's truly good guys, someone who was beloved by everyone he met. Wilson (The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych) nimbly avoids the blandness trap of having a saintly subject by verifying Robinson's goodness from a wide range of sources ex-teammates, Orioles fans, business partners and placing Robinson's benevolence within the framework of a simpler time. Players once lived in the cities they played in, chatting with their neighbor-fans. Attending banquets was a significant part of the offseason as well as a source of supplemental income. Before free agency, a town could actually bond with a player. In fact, Robinson, who did not participate in the book, still calls Baltimore home. In the end, this is a nice tribute to a bygone era of baseball and one of its classiest representatives. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“I've known Brooks for more than 40 years and this is the most thorough and detailed biography of him I've ever read. And I've read them all.”—Roy Firestone, seven-time Emmy-winning broadcaster and original host of ESPNs Up Close
“An unabashedly affectionate life of and tribute to a man who deserves every good word that ever has been said or written about him.”—The Washington Post
“Those who have read Wilsons previous books, Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds and The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych know that wrapped about each diamond is a history lesson… Wilson can weave together interesting tidbits that belong in any social studies class and can make us think “Wow,” whether or not we follow sports.”—The Republic
“In the end, this is a nice tribute to a bygone era of baseball and one of its classiest representatives.” —Publishers Weekly
“It reminds fans, again, that Brooks Robinson is a class act, every which way.” —Booklist
“It's great to read a baseball book that's pure baseball.”—Steve Keane, WBAR New York, Keane on Sports
“Doug Wilsons biography Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson reviews Robinsons career from the modest contracts of the ‘60s to the advent of free agency and the transformation of baseball by big money.”—The Daily Beast
“Brooks [is] a worthwhile portrait of legendary Baltimore Orioles third basemen…There are good stories here about how the team came together and meshed nicely… As [Brooks] shows, Brooks Robinson was the perfect man for the position by almost any standard.”—Buffalo News
“Brooks is a warm, sentimental biography…Wilsons prose is always upbeat and positive and he gets the job done.”—The Tampa Tribune
“The book…details the life of the man many consider the greatest third baseman who ever played the game…A good read. The readers not only gets to learn about Robinson, but also what the Orioles were like during his time there as a player.”—Frederick News-Post
“Brooks is what a baseball biography should be about. This is now Wilsons third such venture, having previously written excellent books on Fred Hutchinson and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Like those, Brooks is well-researched, and Wilson is a first-rate writer worthy of his subject…Brooks Robinson is the real deal, and so is Doug Wilsons book.”—Spitball Magazine
Praise for The Bird:
*New York Post Required Reading*
“Solid, understated prose allows both the happy and sadder moments to shine through on their merits. He [Wilson] has a fine ear for anecdotes—which he has collected from friends and family, teammates and secondary sources—and he never strangles the subject with too much inside baseball…The Bird is a well-written, definitive book about a good guy with a great story.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“There had never been a biography written about The Bird. Leave it to an eye specialist to bring Fidrychs life and career into proper focus…Wilson helps the reader see how much joy Fidrych had — and gave to baseball fans.”
“It's a Cinderella story: Out of nowhere, a flaky, infectiously enthusiastic pitcher captures the nation's attention, a happy reminder that baseball is fun and a business…The "Bird" he captures is a reminder that there's still joy in the game, in playing and sharing the experience.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Anyone who remembers the magical summer when the Bird spun gold every time he took the mound will love reliving the stories here…This is a fun book about a regular guy who never changed, even after exploding into a national sensation. The next time the business side of the modern game gets you down, “The Bird” should prove the perfect antidote.”
“Wilson makes plain by means of a skillful weaving of distant accounts and contemporaneous stories, many raising a tear, that Mark Fidrych deserved his celebrity and our admiration. Highly recommended…and explanation of the mania that last engulfed the National Pastime in a worthwhile way.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“For a short time in the 1970s, the country was in thrall to Mark Fidrych, who came to be known as ‘The Bird for his resemblance to Big Bird. Fidrych emerged seemingly from nowhere in the summer of 1976 and became an unlikely but legitimate phenomenon. Wilson tells the Birds story in this biography of the Massachusetts native whose antics included tending to his own pitching mound during games and allegedly talking to the baseball. Wilson also dispels a few myths along the way, namely disputing the demotion of Fidrych to a ‘flake, despite his antics. He also paints Fidrych as a product of his time and argues that only in the 1970s could someone like Fidrych become such an icon. The beloved pitchers every move drew national attention, and his appearances sold out stadiums, whether for away games or for the home games of some lousy Tigers teams. Unfortunately, knee and throwing-shoulder injuries curtailed the career of the Bird….Fidrych transfixed the country, albeit too briefly. This book serves as a reminder of why.”
“Wilson interviewed many former teammates, managers, friends, and family members in the course of researching this biography of the ballplayer and the man…A compassionate, engaging biography of a player whose star shone brightly, if briefly.”
“In chronicling the sudden rise and fall of Fidrych, Wilson takes us into the Tigers organization and the Major Leagues to show how an obscure baseball player could capture the hearts of fans nationwide.”
“Mark Fidrych's sudden emergence in the spring of 1976 was a gift from the baseball gods; his equally sudden fall from glory was one of the game's more puzzling disappointments. With THE BIRD, Doug Wilson clears away the myths and misconceptions surrounding Fidrych and his brief but magical career, leaving us with an inspiring portrait of a unique individual who truly played the game (and lived his life) for the pure joy of it.”
—Dan Epstein, author of Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swingin' '70s
“Mark Fidrych's magical single-season flight into baseball history exploded into rock star legend. In The Bird, Doug Wilson captures the essence of this unlikely icon with extensive insight from family, friends, fans, teammates, opposing players, managers and media. This portrait of a once in a lifetime phenomenon is a must read for all baseball romantics.”
—Dan Ewald, author, baseball writer and former Tigers executive
About the Author
DOUG WILSON is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and author of The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych and Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds. An ophthalmologist by day, Wilson has been a life-long baseball fanatic. He played baseball through college; however, his grade point average was higher than his batting average and he was forced to go to medical school to make a living. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and live in Columbus, Indiana.