Thursday, March 18, 2010

Literati Glitterati

This is a regular series on celebrity authors.

I grew up watching Rick Monday play for my Chicago Cubs. I was watching on tv when he saved the U.S. flag from being burned by two knuckleheads in Dodger Stadium. That flag-saving effort launched Monday into the national spotlight. It also provided the subject of my award-winning blog for Global Traveler magazine. I thought it was only natural that I feature Rick Monday's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout.
Monday's book covers the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers, who survived the strike-shortened season to win the World Series. Monday mixes his own memories with thoughts from his then-teammates.
Monday starts with a short recap of how he originally wanted to play for the Dodgers, but ended up with the Oakland A's as the first amateur player drafted ever. Looking back, Monday said, "But I never stopped wanting to be a Dodger." Monday got his wish years later when the Cubs traded him to the Dodgers (ironically) the season after his flag-saving moment.
Monday shifts gears and gives a brief bio on many of the 1981 Dodgers. Naturally, this includes the infamous four who equaled 8 1/2. Of course, that would be Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes and Steve Garvey, the All-Star infield who played together for 8.5 seasons. Monday said, "I am still convinced that they were the most consistent group of infielders in the game at the time."
The foursome was nearing the end of its' run, but a rookie named Fernando Valenzuela was just starting to make his name. Valenzuela became a national sensation on his way to winning the Cy Young award and the Rookie of the Year award.
Monday covers the season, including the strike and the oddities in the season and standings because of it. The Dodgers finished in 1st for the first half and 4th for the second half. They beat the Houston Astros and the Montreal Expos to reach the World Series.
In the series with Montreal, Monday drove in the go-ahead run with a solo home run, which he told me "was every kid's dream". Monday continued, "I'd be lying if I said that I didn't then-or don't now-get immense satisfaction knowing that I played a role in helping us win that game and get to the World Series."
The Dodgers went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Monday's thoughts reveal the type of person he is. He talks of his loved ones, his love of the game and his appreciation. There are also thoughts by Steve Yeager, Mike Scoscia, Tommy LaSorda and others. This worked very well as we see several perspectives of this monumental moment.
Tales From the Dodgers Dugout is a fun book. It is a solid baseball book about a great team and a lot of interesting individuals. Monday is probably the best person to put it together. He was a solid contributor who had played long enough to appreciate everything, but he still had the excitement of a younger ball player.
I will always appreciate Monday as a player, especially his seasons with the Cubs. I will always be thankful to Monday for the interview he gave me in 2008. He was very rushed, but he took a few minutes to give me some insight and I am very grateful. Monday is certainly one of the good guys.
Rick Monday and me in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA-June 2008.

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