|WHY did I write it? It's a tribute to
my first baseball friend and hero, Sal Taormina, a well-known and respected baseball man who assisted young players
throughout his career.
HOW did it happen? You could actually
say the book began on a warm Sunday afternoon in 1953 when Dad took me out to the ballgame for the first time.
I was eight years old. From that day to this, baseball has been part of my life and part of who I am. If you're
reading this, you understand.
My "baseball thing" started when we went to see the San Francisco Seals in the AAA Pacific Coast League,
and my life has never been the same since. Most kids would have been thrilled to go to the game with Dad, but I
was really not too sure about the whole thing... until we got there. At first glance Seals Stadium was a "WOW."
Honestly, by the time the manager pulled the pitcher in the sixth inning, I was hooked for life! And poor Dad was
exhausted from all my questions. "Why did this guy do this?" "Why did that guy do that?"
My beloved Seals, known as "The Little Corporation" in those days because they were not affiliated with
a Major League club, became my center and focus. Those were the days when the intense rivalry between the San Francisco
Seals and the Oakland Oaks heated up cool summer nights in the Bay Area. Major League Baseball had not moved west
yet, and AAA baseball was everything.
But things began to change in 1956 when the Boston Red Sox bought the Seals and stocked the team with their own
AAA prospects. Then the Giants came in 1958, and the Seals became part of baseball history.
Sal Taormina was one of only three Seals retained by the Red Sox because he was extremely popular, a tenacious
player, and a team leader. That first year, when the Giants played in Seals Stadium while Candlestick was being
completed, Sal played for them briefly, then coached their AAA team. After that he became the Head Baseball Coach
at prestigious Santa Clara University in California. He cared deeply about baseball and its players, especially
young players coming up. He was their guide and mentor. Hall of Fame player Willie McCovey was one of them.
When Sal died suddenly, much too soon, it was a great loss to those of us who loved him, and to baseball. Given
time, I'm sure he would have written this book himself. Many people throughout the game who knew him either personally
or by reputation agreed and opened doors for me in support of this project. "Go Pro Baseball Wise" is
a gift Sal would have dedicated to all you players dreaming of a pro career.
Sal always gave me a bad time for not becoming a Giant fan. My parents and brother joined their bandwagon instantly.
However, I stubbornly held out, finished high school and college without baseball, then became the "blue sheep"
of the family by finding the Chicago Cubs. Yes, it's true. We love the Cubs and have raised our daughters as Cub
Like the baseball career itself, the book actually took several years, thousands of miles, and hundreds of phone
calls to complete. After compiling data from questionnaires about career baseball I'd sent to Major League players,
I wanted to compare their thoughts and attitudes with those of first year rookies. Thanks to the kindness of the
Oakland A's, I was allowed to spend a full 72-game season with their Medford, Oregon, rookie team in the Northwest
League. After the first week I was able to work with players throughout the league during the course of the season.
It taught me an appreciation of the game I'd never had before.
At the end of their official season they still had much work to do and much baseball to play. So I followed them
to Arizona for Instruction League in the fall, then returned in March for Spring Training.
After that I kept track of their careers by traveling to ballparks at all levels nationwide... watching, learning,
and interviewing. The tape recorder was on whenever opportunities presented themselves: in vacant bleachers while
groundskeepers cleaned around us; on dugout benches during batting practice; at coffee shops, dinner houses, fast
food counters; airports; broadcast booths; beside hotel pools; in hotel lobbies; and on the phone.
Everything in the book was given to me in the form of personal tape-recorded interviews, written questionnaires,
documents and letters in hopes that it will be helpful to players dreaming about a pro baseball career of their
Before doing this book, I always loved
baseball. Now I appreciate it!
WITH DEEPEST APPRECIATION
To Dad for taking me out to the
To Sal Taormina for being inspirational.
To Ken Aspromonte (Chip) for early
To the Baseball Community for
your generosity and a lifetime of great memories.
To "The Boys" for being
Awesome. I'll always remember.
And especially to MY FAMILY for
good cheer and patience... even at the worst times.