Cover image for Every pitcher tells a story : letters gathered by a devoted baseball fan
Every pitcher tells a story : letters gathered by a devoted baseball fan
Swirsky, Seth.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Times Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
217 pages : illustrations : 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.A1 S96 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Seth Swirsky is an Everyfan, writing letters to ballplayers, asking them about key details of their careers and their craft. Here, Swirsky has elicited enlightening responses from many of today's great pitchers, including Roger Clemens, Dave Cone, and Tom Glavine; received illuminating letters from Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Juan Marichal; a surprising answer on the similarity between pitching and picking stocks from Warren Buffett; and uncovered such delights as the Sun-Maid Raisin lady who married a Major League pitcher. The result is a humorous, often moving testament to the greatness of the game and our admiration for players who hone their skills over a lifetime and achieve greatness on the field.

Author Notes

Seth Swirsky is a professional songwriter. He lives with his wife, Jody, and son, Julian, in Beverly Hills, California.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Swirsky has created a neat little book that will be of interest to all baseball fans. In a follow-up to his earlier work (Baseball Letters: A Fan's Correspondence with His Heroes), the author has collected letters that he and others sent to a variety of pitchers, inquiring about the famous and infamous incidents with which they were involved. Amazingly, many of the pitchers Swirsky wrote to actually responded substantively. (In this day, when so many players charge for their autographs, such a response is heartening.) These responses make up the meat of the book. Respondents include everyone from Roger Clemens and Steve Carlton to those whose brush with fame was more brief, such as Jim Rooker and Don Liddle. Not all of the letters are to contemporary players, and for the baseball historian the responses from the old-timers are of particular interest. Overall, this is an original idea and an excellent book. Highly recommended for all libraries.√ĄWilliam O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 CARL PAVANO Born 1976, New Britain, Connecticut. On the final game of the 1998 season, Carl, a promising rookie with the Montreal Expos, faced the game's human home-run-hitting machine, Mark McGwire. McGwire had shattered Roger Maris's thirty-seven-year-old record of 61 homers in a year-the game's most prestigious record-in early September, becoming baseball's all-time single-season home-run leader. Now, in the final at-bat of his inspiring season, with 69 home runs already to his credit, "Big Mac" stood in to face the rookie again. I asked Carl to recount McGwire's historic clout. Carl Pavano Seth, In response to your letter, I am going to answer the question so many have asked. I knew it was the last game of the season and of my rookie year with the Montreal Expos. While sitting on the bench the previous three games against the Cardinals, I said to myself 'all along' if I get a chance to pitch against McGuire, I will not walk him. I will challenge and beat him. First time in my professional career going into a game as a relief pitcher, he steps in as I tow the rubber. A 3 to 3 tie with 2 outs in the bottom of the eigth with 2 men on. 52,000 people up on their feet cheering. First pitch, CRACK-GONE, #70 And the rest is History Carl Pavano STEVE CARLTON Born 1944, Miami, Florida. "Lefty" has the second-most strikeouts in the game's history with 4,136 (first among left-handers). He won 329 games over his twenty-four-year career (1965-1988), spent most notably with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. He won 20 or more games six times. In 1972, playing for the last-place Phillies, Steve won 27 games of his team's 59 wins. He was the unanimous winner of the Most Valuable Player award that year and won the Cy Young Award four times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994. His tempestuous relationship with the press was as well known as his sharp-breaking slider. I asked him what went into his decision not to speak to the media. Steve Carlton Dear Seth: My decision not to speak to the media was not the result of any one incident. The media was crossing lines that had been drawn in baseball for many years. Reporting on the personal lives of players and breaking the trust that came with their access to the players. I felt it would be better for me and the fans if they covered me from the press box. Looking back, I think that the writing was better and definitely more creative after I stopped speaking to the media. Thanks for asking Steve Carlton CHARLIE BROWN I wrote to "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz and asked him if Charlie Brown had ever pitched in front of his lifelong crush, the "little red-haired girl," and if it made him nervous. In response, I received a series of comic strips that ran in August 1968. KERRY WOOD Born 1977, Irving, Texas. The unanimous 1998 National League Rookie of the Year with the Chicago Cubs, Kerry has been heralded as baseball's next dominant power pitcher, in the Roger Clemens mold. He won 13 and lost 6 but, most impressively, held opposing hitters to a major-league-low .196 batting average. On May 6, he struck out twenty Houston Astros in one game, breaking Steve Carlton and David Cone's National League record of nineteen strikeouts and tying his idol Clemens's major-league mark for most strikeouts in a game. After Kerry's historic game, Clemens called him. I asked him what "The Rocket" said to him. Kerry Wood 12/3/98 Seth, The day after I struck out 20, I got a call from Roger. At first, when I was told he was on the phone I thought it was a joke. And when I picked up the phone he said, "Hey Kerry this is Rocket, congratulations." I didn't know what to say. I had never met Roger, just talked a couple of times on the phone. But still I was a little nervous. He just said that he was happy for me and proud to be sharing the record with me. I met Roger for the first time in Orlando, at the Players Choice Awards. He is a great person, has a wonderful family, and it was a honor to meet him. It's something I will never forget. Sincerely, Kerry Wood ROGER CLEMENS Born 1962, Dayton, Ohio. Boston Red Sox, 1984-1995, Toronto Blue Jays, 1996-1998, New York Yankees, 1999- . He will surely go down as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. His numbers and awards speak of his dominance: He is the only pitcher to win the coveted Cy Young Award for pitching excellence five times (1986, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998); he was the 1986 American League Most Valuable Player; he shares the record for striking out the most hitters in one game with twenty (he's done it twice); he's had five twenty-win seasons. Over the past two seasons, at ages thirty-five and thirty-six, he has won 41, lost 13, and racked up 563 strikeouts in almost 500 innings (he has 3,153 career strikeouts). With a career 233-124 won-lost record and a 2.95 ERA, his place in Cooperstown is secure. I asked Roger who inspired him to greatness growing up and who he learned the most from about pitching during his career. Roger Clemens (see p. 11 for typewritten letter) CY YOUNG Born 1867, Gilmore, Ohio. Died Newcomerstown, Ohio, 1955. Hall of Fame, 1937. Between his first game in 1890 with the Cleveland Spiders and his last game with the Cleveland Indians in 1911, Denton True "Cyclone" Cy Young amassed a set of statistics that all rank first, all-time: 511 victories, 316 losses, 749 complete games, and 7,356 innings pitched. In five seasons he won more than 30 games, and he won 20 in ten others. He won more than 200 games in both the American and National leagues and was the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both leagues. He had seventy-six shutouts (fourth all-time) and once pitched twenty-four consecutive hitless innings over three games, which included the first perfect game in the American League (May 5, 1904). Cy once said, "Pitchers, like poets, are born, not made." He retired at age forty-four, because his expanding girth made it impossible for him to field bunts. Pitching's most prestigious honor-the Cy Young Award-was named after him in 1956. In this letter, written to a fan in February 1945, Cy offers homespun advice on how to become a professional baseball player. Cy Young Dear Sir- One way to learn this game is to take lots of time. Play ball as often as you can-Pick out some spot you like in the game-that was the way I done. Then get a chance for a try out. After you are serious you can make the grade. Do not think you can learn it overnight. You can learn after 13 yrs-20 yrs. At least i learned till the end of my career Yours Cy Young GARY KROLL Born 1941, Culver City, California. Gary pitched for four teams in a four-year stint in the majors (1964-66, 1969). As a member of the New York Mets in 1965, he was the last man to start a game for the Mets before the Beatles played their famous concert at Shea Stadium a few days later, on August 15, 1965. I asked Gary if he remembers the excitement of the Beatles coming to play in his home park. Gary Kroll Seth, August 15, 1965, Shea, the Beatles I was there, got to meet the Beatles. The atmosphere at the park that night was electrical hysteria, or better put a magical happening. It was the 60s, it was new york, it was the Beatles. A one time experience. Gary Kroll MACE BROWN Born 1909, North English, Iowa. On his fifth day in the major leagues, May 25, 1935, rookie pitcher Brown watched from the Pittsburgh Pirate bench as Babe Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves and eight days from retirement, hit the 714th and final home run of his titanic career. It was one of three homers Ruth hit that historic day. I asked Mace what he remembered about Babe Ruth's very last home run. Mace Brown Seth: After "Babe" Ruth hit his 3rd homer of the game, which cleared the roof of the double deck stand, he crossed home plate, and he ran directly into our dug out and sat right beside me on the end of the bench. He sat there for about 4 or 5 minutes, right next to me. The only thing I remember him saying was, "Boy's that last one felt good." Sincerly, Mace Brown AL HRABOSKY Born 1949, Oakland, California. With his Fu Manchu mustache and sinister stare, the "Mad Hungarian" was an intimidating figure on the mound. A dominating closer in the mid-1970s, most notably with the St. Louis Cardinals, Al once stated, "When I'm on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo." I wondered if he created the persona of the "Mad Hungarian" to frighten hitters and whether it hurt his pitching when Cardinal manager Vern Rapp made him shave off his mustache. Al Hrabosky Mr. Swirsky I developed my self psyche technique solely as a motivation for myself. This enabled me to have my "controled hate mood" to destroy each batter. At the same time it took some hitters out of their mental approach to the game. Guys that would never step out of the batters box were stepping out trying to out psyche the master. They would try to out think me. As a result, I would be able to throw a pitch when their minds weren't completely focused on hitting. I have to much respect for my competitors to ever think that I 'owned' anyone. As to Mr. Vern Rapp and his 'no facial hair': No, I don't think Vern understood what my long hair and Fu Manchu meant to my psyche on the mound. Vern did not institute the rule to punish me, but as a result the Mad Hungarian felt like a soldier going to war without his rifle! Psyche up! Al Hrabosky The Mad Hungarian From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Every Pitcher Tells a Story: Letters Gathered by a Devoted Baseball Fan by Seth Swirsky All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Carl Pavanop. 2
Steve Carltonp. 4
Charlie Brownp. 6
Kerry Woodp. 8
Roger Clemensp. 10
Cy Youngp. 12
Gary Krollp. 14
Mace Brownp. 16
Al Hraboskyp. 18
Turk Wendellp. 20
Jeff Bagwellp. 22
Curt Schillingp. 24
Warren Buffettp. 26
Chan Ho Parkp. 28
Les Muellerp. 30
Jerry Reussp. 32
Ken Krahenbuhlp. 33
Rocky Colavitop. 34
Pete Harnischp. 36
Justin Thompsonp. 37
Carl Maysp. 38
Don Newcombep. 42
David Conep. 44
Walter "Dutch" Ruetherp. 47
Elias Sosap. 48
Reggie Jacksonp. 49
Jim Palmerp. 52
Whit Wyattp. 54
Vic Raschip. 55
Terry Collinsp. 56
Mike Krukowp. 57
Richard Nixonp. 58
Professor Hinton's Baseball Gunp. 60
Anne Pitcher Brosnanp. 61
Bill Leep. 62
"Mulrooney on the Hill"p. 64
Tom Glavinep. 68
Dickie Kerrp. 70
"Shoeless Joe" Jacksonp. 72
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landisp. 74
Bob Friendp. 76
Fay Vincentp. 78
Dave Campbellp. 79
Luis Tiantp. 80
Pedro Martinezp. 82
Chet Hoffp. 84
Jaret Wrightp. 86
Clyde Wrightp. 87
Hub Kittlep. 88
John "Blue Moon" Odomp. 90
Barry Halperp. 92
Christy Mathewsonp. 94
Walter Johnsonp. 95
Mel Harderp. 96
Bill Wambsganssp. 98
Lefty Grovep. 100
Satchel Paigep. 109
C. J. Nitkowskip. 110
Mike Torrezp. 112
Jose Limap. 114
Robin Robertsp. 116
Stu Millerp. 117
Art Ditmarp. 118
Balor Moorep. 119
Jim Boutonp. 120
Don Liddlep. 122
Rolando Arrojop. 124
Max Lanierp. 125
Al Prattp. 126
Ed Herrmannp. 130
Moe Bergp. 132
Harry Danningp. 134
Milt Mayp. 136
Paul Casanovap. 137
Johnny Roseborop. 138
Juan Marichalp. 140
Maury Willsp. 142
Walter O'Malleyp. 143
Danny McDevittp. 144
Johnny Vander Meerp. 146
Dick Hallp. 147
Marcia Haddixp. 148
Mike Scottp. 150
Jack Lazorkop. 152
Eddie O'Brienp. 154
Ron Reedp. 156
Larry Gowellp. 157
Jim Colbornp. 158
Jon Lieberp. 159
Milt Gastonp. 160
Bill Veeckp. 164
Charles Nagyp. 165
Monte Pearsonp. 166
Jim Rookerp. 168
Zack Wheatp. 170
Marius Russop. 172
Tommy Henrichp. 174
Jamie Moyerp. 177
Violet Whitehill Geissingerp. 178
Jean Fautp. 180
Bill Voisellep. 182
Larry Yountp. 183
Bert Blylevenp. 184
Waite Hoytp. 186
Transcriptsp. 189
Photography Creditsp. 213
Bibliographyp. 216
Acknowledgmentsp. 217