Monday, August 6, 2012

'Bluegrass Baseball' immerses reader in minor league experience

The minor leagues mean different things to different people. To the players, they are a long ladder, each stop a rung on the climb to the big leagues. To the operators of the teams in the hundreds of cities that support both Organized and Independent baseball, they provide affordable family entertainment. To the fans in their communities, they are an opportunity to claim a hero on the way up, to say we knew him when.

To Katya Cengel, they presented a unique study in cultural anthropology. As a features writer with the Louisville Courier-Journal, she was immersed in the environment when following four Louisville Bats players for a series in her paper in 2009. That experience only served to whet her appetite to learn more about the game and its hold on everyone it touches. So she expanded upon her original focus in 2010 with the idea of turning the project into a book.

Cengel reached out to the Bowling Green Hot Rods and Lexington Legends, of the low Class A Midwest and South Atlantic leagues, respectively, as well as the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League. Her observations of the four teams--employees and fans as well as players--are available now as Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life, out this summer from University of Nebraska Press.

My full review of Bluegrass Baseball is now up on BaseballAmerica.com.

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