In the Ballpark: The Working Lives of Baseball People by George Gmelch and J.J. Weiner

While they don’t go unnoticed, the people who work in and around baseball often go unthought of — the beer guy, the scorekeeper, the usher who shows you to your seat. They seem to be there, doing their job, game in and game out, and unfortunately most of us never give them a second thought.

However, authors George Gmelch and J.J. Weiner did give them a second thought – in fact, they gave them their own book, In the Ballpark.

This collection of interviews gives what could be referred to as the “support staff” of baseball a chance to share stories about their lives in and around baseball, and the good and bad aspects of being involved with the game.

Did you ever think about what a beer vendor might have to say about how he sees the game? Or what it takes to be a vendor, or what kind of money they can make? I know I hadn’t really given it a second thought. But the stories do provide insight into another person who, like me, makes their livelihood around baseball.

While the stories are interesting and put you in a conversation with a beer vendor or a major league scout, I can’t say any of them are overly compelling or fascinating. I did learn some things that I didn’t know before, but things that are really only periphereal to my interests in baseball.

However – I will give In the Ballpark a lot of credit for inspiring me to get to know the people who I see at games but I don’t take the time to talk to. If you go to games on a regular basis, you’re sure to see familiar faces in the stands – maybe it’s the usher, maybe it’s a scout, or maybe just another dedicated fan.

We all have stories to tell, and while the ones in In the Ballpark are good, I would encourage you to get to know the stories of those people around you, and share your stories with them. I think you would get much more out of that than you would out of reading someone else’s stories who you might never meet.

Worth reading? Maybe — but only if it inspires you to get to know those around you. Worth adding to the bookshelf? No.

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