Book: Sermon on the [pitcher’s] Mound

“I’ve never been very comfortable looking in the mirror. Life can be so much easier without the messy complication of self-examination.” 

– Michael O’Connor, talking about the marriage relationship in his book Sermon on the Mound.

It seems to me, sadly, that baseball is no longer Americas favorite pastime. Still, it’s my favorite sport – the memories, the long, grand history, and because I was raised and live in the Los Angeles area, there’s Vin Scilly, broadcaster for the dodgers.

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But this post isn’t about Vin Scully’s last year as the voice of the Dodgers. That’ll be a topic for a post later in the year.

This post is about how at this time every year, as the season starts, I look to read a book with a baseball theme. Last year it was Calico Joe by John Grisham. In past years some of the choices have been Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, Men at work by George Will, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson.

I went back to the book shelf this year and picked out an old favorite written by a friend of mine about 15 years ago. The name of the book is Sermon On The Mound. The author’s name is Michael O’Connor.

He wrote quite a different kind of book on baseball. You see, Michael sees baseball as the perfect game. And I mean, he really believes it’s the perfect game. Even more than that, he believes God invented the sport. That’s a big part of what the book is about.

“If someone besides God created baseball, I have yet to see evidence that would hold up in court. History, depending to which version you subscribe, credits Abner Doubleday or Alexander Cartwright with the game’s invention. But I know better. One of those guys may have applied for the permits and laid the foundation, but God inspired the blueprint.”

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Michael is a good guy who has written a really good book. But if pressed I would have to admit he has one major flaw, and he mentions this in the book.

I’m a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. Michael’s defect is that he’s a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan. And it should be noted, as baseball fans are well aware of the last decade, Michael’s book was written several years prior to the San Francisco Giants recent World Series Wins.

The book is without a doubt about baseball. But much more it’s about how the game has entwined Michael’s life in every way. It’s about faith, and incredibly how he “found God” through the failure of the Boston Red Sox to take game 6 of the World Series in 1986.

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Michael O’Connor – circa 1960’s

 

The book is out of print but you can find new copies, when I last checked, on Amazon for as little as $2.94. There were even a couple used copies listed for just $0.01.

Most anyone would enjoy the book, but in particular baseball fans will catch Michael’s many references to the sport and those associated with the game over the years. And if you happen to remember or even grew up during the 1960’s you’ll be delighted with his many pop culture references. Throughout the book Michael finds a way to infuse every paragraph, nearly every sentence with his unique sense of humor.

If you make an effort to get a hold of a copy, it would be worth it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

“I didn’t ask for you to feel the way you do. You’re influenced by an illusion. Writers are magicians. They write down words, and, if they’re good, you believe that what they write is real, just as you believe a good magician has pulled the coins out of your ear, or made his assistant disappear.”
– J.D. Salinger, from the novel, Shoeless Joe, by W. P. Kinsella

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About VocareMentor

Walk with the wise and become wise - Prov. 13:20 A lot of my blog comes out of the way I grew up. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I didn’t see much of my father. I had no understanding of how the lack of his presence in my life affected every choice I made as I grew up. Much of my adult life has been attempting to sort things out and catch up. Thus, what you’ll find on my blog are musings, thoughts, wisdom and ideas from history and pop culture. Themes: mentors, father/son, male/female, self-discovery, courage, stepping up, friendship and more.
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18 Responses to Book: Sermon on the [pitcher’s] Mound

  1. I enjoyed this post, thank you. And I think he’s right, God created baseball. 🙂

  2. I’ll read the O’Connor book. Thought I had read every baseball book ever published, but somehow missed this one. Having grown up in Ohio, the Cincinnati Reds – Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry of the 1970s is one of the most treasured memories in my storehouse.
    This week’s baseball humor:
    Q. What was the difference between God and Kenesaw Mountain Landis?
    A. God never thought he was Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

    • VocareMentor says:

      Please pardon the tardy reply, Jerry – I really enjoy your blog and although I haven’t yet downloaded one of your collections of essays to my kindle, I will. I am for the most part just a simple Los Angeles Dodgers fan and don’t have a vast knowledge of it’s great history. Thus I had to ‘google’ Kenesaw Mountain Landis. – If you do get a hold of the book, I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Prior-2001 says:

    sounds like a REALLY good book – the way they mix baseball with the faith and life details –

  4. Michael O'Connor says:

    Thanks for the plug Kelly. In answer to your question of long ago these are both pictures of me and not stock photography. “Number 10 on your scorecards but number 1 in your hearts.”

    So glad you enjoyed the book. The next one isn’t about baseball, but you know there will be a chapter or two on the subject–just because I can’t help myself. Keep blogging!

    • VocareMentor says:

      After working through the “die-hard Giant fan” thing, it was easy to write about how much I like the book. And I think it’s one of only two or three books that I have signed by the author.

      • Michael O'Connor says:

        I can sign some of those other books to help expand your collection. I pretty much have W.P. Kinsella down cold and my John Grisham isn’t bad either.

  5. Lovely post, Kelly!! I know the guy who wrote the book…

  6. rgayer55 says:

    Nice book review. I’ve read a lot of baseball biographies. “My Turn at Bat” by Ted Williams is one of my favorites along with “Fear Strikes Out” the Jimmy Piersall story (the book is much better than the movie).

    • VocareMentor says:

      ‘Funny’ (reference to your blog as well. That is, ‘funny’) that you mention it. The next post or two that I am working on are on the topic of “book vs. it’s film version.” – And thanks for the two books that I’m adding to my ‘to read’ list.

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