The former first baseman in the Detroit Tigers farm system uses his own experience to describe the life cycle of professional baseball players from early ambition to reinventing themselves after their baseball career.
Twenty-four years after his own final road trip with the Detroit Tigers' organization, Gmelch went on the road again with a busload of players, this time with a pen and pad to record the details of life lived around the diamond. Drawing on over one hundred interviews with major and minor league players, coaches, and managers, he explores players' experiences throughout their careers: being scouted, becoming a rookie, moving through or staying in the minors, preparing mentally and physically to play day after day, coping with slumps and successes, facing retirement. He examines the ballplayers' routines and rituals, describes their joys and frustrations, and investigates the roles of wives, fans, and groupies in their lives. Based on his own experience as a player in the 1960s, Gmelch charts the life cycle of the modern professional ballplayer and makes perceptive comparisons to a previous generation of players.