Growing up in Marin County just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, my father had no intention of driving me through the city to a cold and windy Candlestick Park… thus, I became an Oakland A’s fan. From Dave Kingman and Tony Phillips, Jose Canseco and Dave Stewart, Eric Byrnes and Eric Chavez… I have been a fan for 40 years and when the opportunity came up to read Barry Zito’s memoir, I was excited. He writing didn’t let me down. I found a book that is one part baseball story, one part spiritual journey, and one part look into a pivotal a father/ son relationship. It’s touching in its honesty and transparency.
Zito tells of growing up in Southern California and his initial bond with athletics and how this gift developed into throwing a baseball. He lives with the give and take of a father who orchestrated his young life around baseball. Coupled with social anxiety, financial instability, and the stress of living with a mother’s illness, Zito’s life was filled with strife, and baseball was always there for him to pour his focus into.
I’ve read many sports biographies over the years and there is a tendency for the authors to at times tell too much of the year-by-year details of the athlete’s career. Writing like this can take away from the overall message or themes that a writer is trying to focus on. Thankfully, this is not the case in Curveball. Zito focuses on his spiritual journey of ridding himself of his ego and the temptations of the ‘good life’ as his tries to ‘feed the monster’ of entitlement. It takes him until many years into his career to determine the true difference between hubris and confidence.
This journey is what makes this book such a worthwhile read. Chapters are filled with self reflection and important anecdotes that reveal how he made his departure from that need for fame and to really started to delineate what he can control from other’s expectations. The rock star off the field was routinely at odds with the athlete he was trying to be on the field.
Everyone has tried the quick fix and Zito uses this book to discuss that many times only changes that actually stick are ones learned through experience. This is a rare biography that gets to the heart of this matter. From one lefty to another: Kudos to you, Barry.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, W Publishing, and the author for an advanced copy for review.