Felipe Alou Ö My Life in Baseball
by Felipe Alou & Herm Weiskopf
Felipe Alou Ö My Life in Baseball by Felipe Alou
& Herm Weiskopf is an unintentionally funny example of a ghost written jock
autobiography. Itís supposed to be by a ballplayer from the Dominican Republic
who didnít have much education and struggled to learn English when he came to
the United States as a young adult, yet itís written in the style of a community
college English composition instructor. Starting with The Glory of Their Times
by Lawrence Ritter, there have been lots of well-edited oral histories of
baseball in which ballplayers tell their stories in their own words (at least
mostly), and this is so conspicuously written by someone other than a ballplayer
that itís rather funny at times. Jock biographies ghost written by a sports
writers often get away with similar ďreminiscesĒ that are really a matter of the
real writerís research rather than the protagonistís own words, but where this
book gets silly is in flowery accounts of Dominican scenery that really do seem
like the work of a community college writing instructor (rather than an
English-challenged jock or a professional sportswriter).
What does seem to be Alouís own input is the emphasis on Bible-thumping. As has happened with many Latin Americans, Alou was raised as a victim of the Catholic Church, which maintained its monopoly on being the only institutional spokesperson on the Word of God by discouraging people to read the Bible. Bibles were forbidden reading in the Dominican Republic when Alou came to the United States to play ball in the late 1950ís, and someone gave him a contraband Bible in Spanish, which was his constant companion while he struggled to learn English, and blew his young mind, with the notion that the words of Jesus were more important than the words of priests. Given his intellectually-impaired background, Alou did pretty well just to discover that priests ainít the Word of God, but didnít flip out enough to discover that the Christian Bible might not be the one and only Word of God either. Unfortunately, much of the book is devoted to experiences with Christianity rather than baseball.
The book was ghost written in 1967 (after Alouís best season), so it covers his childhood, life in the minors as a young Latino, his years with the San Francisco Giants, then being traded to the Braves as they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Calling that ďMy Life in BaseballĒ was premature, because Alou went on to play for the Aís, Yankees, Expos, and Brewers, as well as having a distinguished career as a manager. Although Alou played with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron (not to mention his own brothers), the parts of his life in baseball that hadnít happened yet may be more interesting than what is reported in this book. It would be interesting to know how his theological views may have matured. Hopefully, he can find a better ghost writer if thereís a sequel.