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  • Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream
  • Amy Essington
Dobrow, Marty. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010. Pp xii+302. Notes, photographs, and index. $24.95 pb, $80.00 cb.

In Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Marty Dobrow, an associate professor of communications at Springfield College and Boston Globe contributor, tells the story of five minor league baseball players and one college baseball player who tried to achieve their ultimate dream of becoming major leaguers. Focusing on the 2005 season but following the players into 2009, Dobrow offers a look into the realities of the minor league system from a personal perspective. DiaMMond Management, a family operation with a personal touch run by Jim Masteralexis, his wife Lisa Masteralexis, and their partner Steve McKelvey, represent all six of the major league hopefuls included in the book. The players include Doug Clark, Brad Baker, Charlie Zink, Manny Delcarmen, Randy Ruiz, and Matt Torra. Each of the players, ranging across their twenties during the 2005 season, has to decide how long to cling to the dream of major leagues and face whether or not they will reach “The Show.” As the men date, marry, and have children and try to pay the bills, some have to face the reality that they may not achieve more than the nomadic, low paying, and often-uncertain [End Page 501] life of a minor league player. Of the six players, two never make the final leap from AAA to the majors, two play in only a handful of games at the major league level, and two become major leaguers who play over several seasons.

The author divides the book into four parts and includes a prologue, interlude chapter about the offseason, and epilogue. Each part contains five or six chapters, each focusing on the experiences of one of the players or the agents. The first three parts progress through the 2005 season. Part I is entitled “Spring Training 2005,” Part II, “Opening Day to the All-Star Break,” and Part III, “The Second Half.” In Part Four, Dobrow includes a chapter on each player covering their 2006 to 2008 seasons. The epilogue provides an update for 2009. Though the book follows the baseball season, the progressing season is lost in the details of the lives of the players.

In Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Dobrow chronicles the lives of those who play in and support the minor league baseball system, a system with some highs, but many lows. Dobrow argues that while baseball lost its status as America’s national pastime, the dream continues for thousands of young, and not so young, players. Dobrow believes the most human stories about baseball come from the minor leagues. By delving into the lives of six of the approximately 7,000 minor leaguers, 90 percent of whom will never play in the majors, Dobrow shows the multilayered world of the game of baseball from the perspective of individuals. An experience that includes small towns, short-notice travel, pressure to use performance-enhancing drugs, second jobs, separation from loved ones, and dreams that will not die.

Interviews are the vast majority of the sources used by Marty Dobrow. Dobrow gets to know his subjects well including the personal struggles and joys of the individuals through interviews conducted in person and by telephone during his breaks from teaching. The footnotes are more of an additional commentary than a listing of sources and there are only a few for each chapter. There is no bibliography, which would provide the reader with a larger understanding of baseball history, especially with the topic of steroids. Though the focus of the book is on the individual experiences of the major league hopefuls, additional historical or academic references would help readers contextualize the player’s experience and provide a next step into baseball history. The author assumes that the reader already understands the structure of the major-minor league system and the role of the Red Sox in baseball history. He repeats some of the details several times such as the history of...


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pp. 501-502
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