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From the spark of ambition to play baseball professionally to the necessity of reinventing life after baseball, the anthropologist and former Minor Leaguer George Gmelch describes the lives of the men who work at America's national game. Twenty-four years after his own final road trip as a minor leaguer, Gmelch went back on the road with ballplayers, this time with a pen and pad to record the details of life around the diamond. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with Major and Minor League players, coaches, and managers, Gmelch explores players' experiences throughout their careers: being scouted, becoming a rookie, moving through or staying in the Minors, preparing mentally and physically to play day after day, coping with slumps and successes, and facing retirement. He examines the ballplayers' routines and rituals, describes their joys and frustrations, and investigates the roles of wives, fans, and groupies in their lives. Based on his own experience as a player in the 1960s, Gmelch charts the life cycle of the modern professional ballplayer and makes perceptive comparisons to a previous generation of players.
George Gmelch is a former first baseman in the Detroit Tigers farm system and a professor of anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He is the author of nine books, including Baseball without Borders: The International Pastime (Nebraska 2006) and In the Ballpark: The Working Lives of Baseball People (with J. J. Weiner), available in a Bison Books edition.