30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 19: It’s a far cry from a Gwynn-win situation for a No. 19 tribute

This is what the poster looks like that is converted from the book jacket.

This is what the poster looks like that is converted from the book jacket. It is meant as a tribute.

The book: “Tony Gwynn: He Left His Heart in San Diego”
The author: Rich Wolfe
The vital statistics: Lone Wolfe Press, 255 pages, $24.95
Find it: At Amazon.com, at BarnesandNoble.com, at Powells.com

BBBB9780984627899_p0_v1_s600The pitch: We completely understand how much you’d like a book that celebrates the life and times of the Padres’ Hall of Fame human being and Long Beach native, who died last June of cancer.
If you happen to come across this somewhere, take an intentional walk.
Here are 19 reasons why:
1. It’s not up to Gwynn’s standards.
2. The author doesn’t seem to know, or care, that it’s not up to Gwynn’s standards. He writes in the preface: “I don’t even pretend to be an author. This book with its unusual format is designed solely for fans. I really don’t care what the publishers, editors or critics think.”
Or Gwynn’s family, apparently.
3. The author really is the publisher. He could use an editor. And what this critic thinks here should matter just a little bit in the bigger picture.
4. You’re encouraged to take off the book jacket, unfold it, turn it inside out, and look at the glossy 28-by-22 inch poster (see above). That isn’t so corny, but we can’t find a credit for the illustrator.
5. The author does credit San Diego Union-Tribune CEO John Lynch (former owner of XTRA 690-AM and the Mighty 1090) and his “wonderful staff” for assisting on the project. Most of the current staff would just as well wish they didn’t get any mention for it at all.
6. The author notes the book is “not affiliated with or endorsed by the San Diego Padres or MLB.” If it was, perhaps it would have been much better.
7. The author gives out his phone number – (602) 738-5889 – in case you have a story you might want to give him about Gwynn that could get into the next edition of “For San Diego Sports Fans Only.” He says if you call, “he’ll probably answer .. .he’s a lonely old man with no friends and a lotta time on his hands.” We assume this is a joke.
8. The author also contends: “No actual Los Angeles Dodgers fans were harmed in the making of this book.” Not unless any Dodgers fans bought this attempting to find a tribute to Gwynn’s legacy.
9. The author writes that there is “additional bonus chapter free!” if you go to this website: www.gostealthisbook.com/tonygwynn. There is no link to a free chapter. It’s just a place to order it online.
10. One of the author’s previous publishing attempts is called “I Saw It On the Radio,” about Dodgers’ Hall of Famer Vin Scully, who did not authorize nor would suggest you even purchase it.
11. The author describes himself on the book flap as “the bestselling sports book author in American the last fifteen years. He is the only person to appear on both ‘Jeopardy’ and ESPN’s ‘2-Minute Drill.” He doesn’t actually back up that first claim, and we really didn’t care much about the second.
12. The author apologizes for having to cut some stories out and blames the editor for having to “merge some paragraphs and omit some punctuation” that allows the reader “to receive an additional 20,000 words – the equivalent of fifty pages.” No one needed to know that.
13. The author then wastes space by boasting that he has also done books about Mike Ditka and Harry Caray, but “Ditka and Caray were much older than Gwynn, thus, they had many more years to create their own stories and build on their legends. Furthermore, unlike Gwynn, they both liked to enjoy liquid fortification against the unknown, which leads to even more and wilder tales … and multiple divorces.” Which is important to note here because …
14. The author wastes further space explaining that, in collecting tributes from “over 50 of Tony Gwynn’s friends,” there is a lot of repetition. “Repetition is always a problem … The repetition with Tony Gwynn … was overwhelming. Almost eighty pages were deleted from this book because there were constant, similar or duplicate testimonials. Even so, many remained.” Please, repeat that paragraph again so we’re clear on what duplication means.
15. The author seems to enjoy an annoying device whereby, in the middle of every story being told, something is put IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Then there’s a reference below, in a gray box, that tries to emphasize an incidental fact. In a Keith Olbermann story about Gwynn that mentions he saw Gwynn “in the dugout at DODGER STADIUM,” the note below entices the reader to go to the bottom of the page to see this: “When DODGER STADIUM opened in 1962, the Dodgers intended to have weekly boxing matches. They had only one because Davey Moore died after being hit by Sugar Ramos in the very first fight.” Thanks for that uplifting nugget of trivia. Please, give us more.
16. Someone named Tami Belmain is writing an oral history of Tony Gwynn, having received the blessing of Tony’s wife, Alicia, as well as Tony’s close friend and longtime agent, John Boggs. The book will benefit the T.A.G. Foundation. It may be too late to contact her at gwynnstory@gmail.com, but why not give it a try. Or, at least let her know you’ll wait for her book instead of buying this one.
17. In 2000, Gwynn authored a book called “The Art of Hitting.” It is still available.
18. Quotes from the five-star reviews on Amazon.com to “Tony Gwynn: He Left His Heart in San Diego” include: “Loved it but just makes me miss him more,” “Love the man….Love the book,” “Bought as a gift, recipient told me he loved it,” “This was a great gift for my Son-In-Law! He was very excited to receive it!”
There’s no accounting for bad taste.
19. We have it on a good source that there will be a very poignant book coming out on Gwynn, hopefully by next spring, which will contain Gwynn’s last words about his life and his career, as it turned out. A very respected baseball writer is trying to get it done. It will be worth the wait. Please, take a few more pitches and hang tight.

Fans mourn at a makeshift memorial to Tony Gwynn at Petco Park in San Diego on June 16, 2014. (Sam Hodgson/Reuters via samhodgsonphotography.com)

Fans mourn at a makeshift memorial to Tony Gwynn at Petco Park in San Diego on June 16, 2014. (Sam Hodgson/Reuters via samhodgsonphotography.com)

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email