Book Review: Pat Jordan’s “A False Spring”
Upon completion of my top 10 list of baseball literature, someone recommended to me that I read Pat Jordan’s book entitled, A False Spring, which was his real life account of the time he spent in the minor leagues between 1959-61 as a bonus baby prospect in the Milwaukee Braves organization.
Some refer to Jordan’s book as among the best baseball books ever written, however I’m not one to make that claim today. His short professional career was pretty much a colossal failure of what might have been, however the story he tells allows me to feel his frustration, anger and bewilderment. It also left me irritated and annoyed for his failure to grow up and turn his fortunes around.
This statement from one other review of the book pretty much sums it up: “It’s a meditation on a rudderless coming of age with all the ignorant actions and choices of youth laid bare.” Rudderless is right. Jordan is one that suffered through a complete lack of awareness related to his self. Finding a mentor figure or older player to school him through his tumultuous times would have been beneficial.
You’d figure that minor leaguers, not to mention prospects with some pretty large sums would receive some decent coaching to help propel them to farther heights, nonetheless it was shocking to learn at that time period just how little managers or coaches would care, assist, coach or just plain old do their jobs. Perhaps I’m generalizing there, but it seemed no one in the Braves organization gave a damn about their minor leaguers – only those that ventured upward through the system – essentially by themselves. I wonder if Jordan had received coaching to refine his skills or learn the mental aspect of the game if things would have turned out differently.
You see, Jordan was a flame thrower with periods of sporadic command. You’d hope that with a little work, he’d be able to refine his pitching motion and make good of the Braves’ initial investment. It wasn’t until he was invited to Instructional Fall league one year where a coach actually worked with him and taught him to reduce all the moving parts in his motion, but the kicker here was that he was never able to throw as hard. Regardless, after some positive results that fall, he inexplicably lost everything the next spring and was sent all the way to a D league and then was out of baseball at the end of that season.
By the sounds of it, it seems like he developed the ‘yips’ or what some would later call “Steve Blass disease.” This has happened more recently too to none other than Rick Ankiel as the Hardball Times chronicles.
What I did appreciate about the book though was his tell-all account about his life and the rudimentary beginnings of baseball life during that time period. I applaud the vulnerability that Jordan showed in the telling of his story. It is his account, an honest look at where he was at that point in his life. I only wished it led to a more uplifting ending.