Playing Around: The Million Dollar Infield Goes to Florida

The “Million Dollar Infield” wasn’t worth a thousand bucks, at least as far as a salary for playing baseball. The book is the brainchild of Gerry McCauley who went to Spring Training in Bradenton in 1973 with five of his friends and acquaintances. You could say that this was the birth of the Fantasy Camp. McCauley should’ve patented the idea. Within 20 years he’d have made a ton of dough. The rogues gallery includes:
Bob Adelman – photographer whose shots would make Out of Left Field, a book about the 1973 Pirates, one of my favorites of all-time. He has continued travelling the globe and taking pictures. He published a photo biography of Martin Luther King Jr.
McCauley – a literary agent based in NYC. As far as I can tell, he is still in that business.
Donald Hall – future poet Laureate and co-writer of Dock Ellis’ autobiography.
Charles Morgan – a lawyer who at the time was the director of the ACLU in DC. He was still at it a couple of years ago as he was involved in the whole “soft money” debate.
John Parrish – a dermatologist and professor at Harvard. He now studies the effects of lasers on tissue.
Jim Wooten – at the time a writer for the New York Times and co-author of the autobiography of Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Herbert, who was the most decorated American soldier in the Korean War. You might recognize his name because he has since become a correspondent on ABC News and written numerous other books.
Each of the visitors contributed a chapter to the book, except for Adelman whose photos are used. This book isn’t so much about the Bucs, though it takes place at their Spring Training site and all the visitors wear Pirate unis while taking BP and infield practice. The authors mostly write about their athletic experiences, both in the week they spend in Florida and deep in their past, back to their childhood. There is the occassional mentioning of #21 and his passing and what it might mean to the club. But nobody goes into that aspect with any depth.
Hall and Wooten are trained writers and it shows as their prose is by far the best. Hall’s chapter is my favorite. This is a very interesting book. You’ve got people from all different walks of life. And, as always, baseball brings them together.

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