- So Many Seasons in the Sun: A Century and More of Conversations with Baseball’s Greatest Clubhouse Managersby Lawrence Hogan, and: Baseball Skippers and Their Crews: The History of Every Major League Manager and Coach, 1871–2014by Thomas Brucato
With So Many Seasons in the Sun, Lawrence Hogan explores baseball history through the experiences of clubhouse managers. Hogan selects four men (Fred and Ed Logan, Pete Sheehy, and Mike Murphy) from this profession and discusses their lives and times in an effort to better understand baseball’s evolution and culture through the lens of a “clubby.” [End Page 254]This approach is a refreshing change in tactic, which usually relies heavily on the player experience. Hogan rightly points out that clubhouse managers, due to tenure longevity and their intimate access to the players, managers, and events, represent an institutional memory that cannot be found elsewhere in professional baseball.
The strength of So Many Seasons in the Sunis threefold. First, the book is rich in colorful anecdotes. Sometimes poignant, sometimes comedic, these nuggets entertain and inform both serious students of the game and novices who can appreciate a good story. Hogan’s job, it seems, is to connect them chronologically. Another value of the book is the enhanced level of access to inner sanctum of Major League Baseball—the clubhouse and the personalities that dwelled within. So Many Seasons in the Sunis far from a tell-all, as longstanding clubhouse managers understand better than anyone the code of silence that is vital to the protection of their players’ private lives. That said, Hogan is able to procure insights that, while not lurid, still make the reader feel like an “insider” to some of the greatest clubhouse characters in baseball history. Finally, Hogan’s ability to add the essential but oft-forgotten voices of clubhouse managers to the larger baseball canon is a worthwhile contribution in its own right. While this occupation seems less illustrious than the sluggers and twenty-game winners that traditionally garner attention, these behind-the-scenes maestros not only shed valuable light on the more well-known personalities that surrounded them in their work environment but can also reflect upon other shifts and watershed moments (for example, integration) in the game’s history from a different perspective.
While So Many Seasons in the Sunfills an important void in the study of baseball, it has several flaws that limit the book’s effectiveness. One of the most troublesome concepts is the book’s structure. Hogan’s muses are four men. Fred and Ed Logan each receive a chapter, and so does Pete Sheehy. Mike Murphy receives five chapters. From a balance standpoint, it seems peculiar. As well, the treatment of the subjects is uneven, particularly where Murphy is concerned. The long-time clubhouse manager of the San Francisco Giants is afforded complete reverence, bordering on hagiography.
Beyond that, Hogan employs several ill-conceived tools in an effort to help us better know his subjects. The most troubling occurs when Hogan interviews a subject long dead—Fred Logan. This mock interview only distracts the reader and adds nothing to the book’s objective. It is unclear to the reviewer why Hogan believes he can answer a series of self-posed questions for a man he never met. From a historian’s perspective, that is a fool’s errand. There is also a certain amount of repetition that plagues So Many Seasons in the Sun, from a Casey Stengel quotation about Sheehy that was first mentioned on page 29 and then reintroduced in full on page 46, to listing Dave Righetti twice in his interview acknowledgments. Whether some of these repetitions are by design or by accident is difficult to tell. What is clear is they take...