Book Report: Class-A by Lucas Mann

Let’s change gears a little bit today and talk about a baseball book that came out earlier this year.

Class-A – Baseball In The Middle Of Everywhere is the first book by Lucas Mann, and it chronicles the day-to-day experiences of the author as he spent the 2010 season with the Seattle Mariners Low-A team in Clinton, Iowa.

Mann was granted near-total access by the Clinton team and manager John Tamargo. He was in the locker room, on the road with the team, and in the stands with the fans.

What makes this a unique book is that during the 2010 season, Mann was a 24-year-old academic at the University of Iowa. He was only a few years older than the players, and he was eventually accepted into their world.

It is his account of that world – the world of a group of 19-to-22 year-olds from all over the globe dropped into a small, economically failing midwestern town without friends, family or even cars – that makes the book.

Mann also spent a lot of time with the Clinton season ticketholders, the diehard fans who come to every game and have been doing so for years. Through this lens, he takes a depressing look at the city of Clinton and how its economy is dominated by one gigantic, smelly factory.

I read this book right after the Rainiers season ended, and I found it riveting. It is very different from your typical minor league baseball book. I think that the main reason it is different is that this isn’t just a book; this is literature. Mann is a talented young writer who can really turn a phrase.

Current Mariners Nick Franklin and Erasmo Ramirez both have prominent roles in the narrative – they were the stars of the team, and Munn correctly identified them as the top prospects on the club. I’m sure Nick and Erasmo would like to have some of the more personal passages deleted, but for us readers it is important to remember that they were both 19-years-old when that season started.*

This book is not for kids. I recommend the book for adult readers who at least occasionally dabble in literature. If you think that James Patterson is the modern John Steinbeck, or that Jose Canseco’s Juiced is a great baseball book, you should probably pass on it. However, if you like your reading a little more highbrow, you will enjoy it.

Links:

  • For more on Class-A, here’s a New York Times interview with the author.
  • Speaking of books, the is a new biography on Ted Williams coming out. This excerpt from the Boston Globe focuses on… Ted’s frozen head.
  • Lots of reports out there that the Mariners are going to sign ex-Rainiers infielder Willie Bloomquist to a two-year deal. Bloomquist’s role will be to back up Brad Miller and Nick Franklin/Dustin Ackley.
  • Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln has begun the process of replacing outgoing team president Chuck Armstrong.
  • All-star pitcher Lou Brissie is one of the most incredible stories in professional sports history. He passed away during the holidays – be amazed by¬†his Times obituary.

Monday Night Football tonight – and of course it’s a big one with the Seahawks playing the Saints. The Rainiers are hosting a free viewing party in the Summit Club at Cheney Stadium – info is here, except this is a Special Monday Edition of Seahawks Sundays.

* I find the thought of somebody chronicling my actions when I was a 19-year-old to be absolutely terrifying. I suspect most of you older readers agree.

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6 Responses to Book Report: Class-A by Lucas Mann

  1. Points says:

    I think you should not believe everything you read!

    • Points says:

      Lucas noted that Franklin had a diamond earring? I looked and asked – there were never earrings. Lucas made it interesting by adding in his own parts of a ‘story’. Unless Franklin or Erasmo wrote it – don’t believe everything you read.

  2. Mac says:

    Okay the title is “baseball in the middle of everywhere”, but I like yours better.

  3. mike says:

    i have already read it and it good book, highly recondmend for anyone who like reading..

  4. Ron says:

    Mr Curto,

    I really have to disagree with you about Class-A, I found the book terribly difficult to get through. I found it to be someone attempting to be high brow but mostly missing. There is a bunch of good information in the book but the writer makes the story more about him than the town or the baseball team.

    I really wanted to enjoy the book and am generally a sucker for any book about minor league sports and the towns the teams play in. This book had some of that the conversation with John Tamargo, and bits about Nick Franklin, but the writer wasted pages and time on his own issues and making a story rather than telling a story.

    The story Mann tells is the expected story about a smelly factory and “look at how crazy and sad these fans are.” The baseball often takes a back seat to these other stories.This would be fine if he had made those stories seem more compelling and less like a depressed person going to Wal Mart at 3am to look around at other people and think “well at least I am not as bad off as them.” Or his attempt to find the his stereotypical town and then build the narrative around what he wants to say. His story telling is very one sided and this hurts the integrity of the book.This is a sad departure because when he sticks to the baseball story he is much better at telling a compelling story.

    I would say that it is a very average book with flashes of potential, too focused on the writer and not enough on the subject, even if the subject was Clinton and not just the baseball team. There is a bunch of great stuff in the book but don’t go into reading it with high expectations.

    Sorry to be so long winded but I thought if I disagreed I should at least give my reasons.

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