Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball

Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball

by Mike Schmidt, Glen Waggoner


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For 18 remarkable seasons, the brawny, mustachioed Mike Schmidt was baseball's standard-bearer. Philadelphia's legendary third baseman played in 2,400 games, hit 548 home runs, and won three National League Most Valuable Player awards, all with the same team, and all without the suspicion of steroid abuse dogging him at him every turn. His exceptional talent was rivaled only by his unwavering respect for baseball and its storied past. "I could ask the Phillies to keep me on to add to my statistics," he said at his retirement, "but my love for the game won't let me do that." This lifelong appreciation of the game is the driving force behind Schmidt's Clearing the Bases, an unflinching and unforgiving look at baseball's two-decade devolution from national pastime to national punch line.

Laying waste to baseball's newly anointed "Juiced-Era," Schmidt takes on everything from bandbox ballparks, in which mediocre hitters continue to smash tape-measure home runs, to skyrocketing payrolls of corporate-like ball clubs; from callous owners and unapproachable players and to inflated statistics, and, of course, bloated, ersatz home run kings. Schmidt calls on players, fans, and owners to put right what has gone horribly wrong with the game, and offers his own prescriptive solutions on how to get baseball back to what it once was and rightfully deserves to be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060855000
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/13/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 745,990
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Mike Schmidt is the greatest-hitting third baseman in the history of baseball. Named Player of the Decade for the 1980s by the Sporting News, he was selected to the MLB All-Century Team in 1999. He lives in Florida with his family.

Glen Waggoner, a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, is the coauthor of Bobby Murcer’s New York Times bestselling autobiography A Yankee for Life, as well as the bestsellers My Life In & Out of the Rough with John Daly and Clearing the Bases with Mike Schmidt. Waggoner was one of the founding fathers of Rotisserie League Baseball, which sparked the fantasy sports movement in America.

Read an Excerpt

Clearing the Bases

Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball
By Mike Schmidt

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Mike Schmidt
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060854995

Chapter One

A Simple Game

It was a bright yellow 1971 Corvette Sting Ray fastback, and the asking price was just under $10,000. That little beauty, the car I'd dreamed of my whole life growing up in Dayton, Ohio, would eat up nearly a third of the $32,500 signing bonus I got for being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 1971 draft. But what was money for? To spend, baby! I had to have it.

As a young athlete I was pretty good in all sports, with baseball playing second fiddle to basketball. But because of two knee operations before I turned eighteen, my basketball dreams ended early, and no college had serious interest in me as a baseball player.

My senior year in high school, I took a liking to one course, drafting. Using a T-square and a triangle to create working drawings lit my fire, and the best architectural college around was Ohio University. Coincidentally, OU also had the best baseball program around. So off I went to become an architect and to try out for the freshman baseball team. Little did I know what lay ahead of me.

Only one major league scout, Tony Lucadello, of the Phillies, evenknew I was alive. Tony had been following me since I was in Little League. Keep in mind, now, I wasn't a big prospect. I was never all-city or all-state. I wasn't even offered a college scholarship. Still, there were a couple of guys who kept me in their back pocket, and Tony was one of them. Tony saw me play from time to time, but always kept a low profile when he was there. Sometimes he'd watch from his car in the parking lot, or alone on a hill overlooking the field. He knew I was going up to Ohio University to study architecture and play ball, but he also knew that if anybody could develop me as a player, it was OU's Bob Wren, one of the best baseball coaches in college ball. First, of course, I had to make the freshman team.

I won't bore you with details of my college life, but those four years at Ohio University set the stage for all that has followed. College is where I became a man, and a serious baseball prospect.

Suffice it to say, my baseball life came together my sophomore year. Rich McKinney, Ohio's all-everything shortstop, signed a pro contract, and I was next in line at the position. Coach Wren gave me a shot at the job in the fall, knowing he'd always have other options come spring. The experiment worked. I was all-conference that year, and all-American the following two seasons. All of a sudden I was on a lot of scouts' lists. I went off to college as an utter unknown; I left as a projected first-round pick. Not too shabby for a walk-on.

Now, back in 1971, the major league baseball annual amateur draft wasn't any big deal, at least not to the general public. No TV coverage, very little in the newspapers. But it was plenty big around my house, I can tell you that. The Phillies had a lousy record in 1970, so they had the sixth pick in 1971, and they used it to take Roy Thomas, a right-handed pitcher. They took me with their first pick in the second round, number 30 overall.

Some pretty good ballplayers came out of that 1971 draft. Guys like Frank Tanana (13), Rick Rhoden (20), and Ron Guidry (65). Oh, yeah, and there was a California kid just out of high school who was taken by the Royals right before me at number 29 -- fellow by the name of George Brett.

Right there, in June 1971, came my first big break in baseball, not so much because of who took me but because of who didn't. You see, a local Orioles scout named Jack Baker had me at the top of his prospects list. Lucky for me, though, he couldn't persuade his bosses back in Baltimore to take me. I was a shortstop at the time I was drafted, but I'd soon be moved to third. Just imagine trying to break in behind Brooks Robinson, who was coming off his tenth straight All-Star season and had four more ahead of him!

The Phillies sent Tony Lucadello to my home in Dayton, Ohio, to get my name on a contract. I'll never forget him sitting in our living room with my father and me, saying "Mr. Paul Owens has instructed me to offer you $25,000 if you'll sign this contract." ($25,000! To play baseball!) But my father would have none of that. Actually, he told Tony to go home and come back with more money, much as Scott Boras says today with his top draft picks. (Sure.) Well, Tony came back the next morning, and we talked some more, and Dad sent him away again. We did a couple more go-rounds, and finally we agreed on $32,500 plus an incentive bonus that could add up to another $7,500 -- $2,500 for each minor league classification I jumped.

Thinking about it now, Dad did pretty well by me. Back then, it was either take what they offered or take a job dipping ice cream cones in my father's restaurant. But what really sealed the deal -- besides that extra $7,500 -- was an invitation to come to Philadelphia for a weekend series against the Giants and work out with the big club.

Where do I sign?

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, I played ball all the time, but never really believed I'd ever play in the big leagues. But, all of a sudden, the Phillies are going to pay me to put on a big league uniform, with those beautiful red Adidas shoes. It still gives me goose bumps, just thinking about it.


Excerpted from Clearing the Bases by Mike Schmidt Copyright © 2006 by Mike Schmidt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has more info than any other book on baseball I've read. Mike is a true legend and his perspective and insights are extremely interesting. Janet in AZ
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just bought Clearing the Bases on 3/18/2005, today I finished it 3/19/2005. This book is a must read for any real fan of americas past time, I don't do reviews mainly because I am horrible with puntuation and spelling...That aside this is a book that not only brought back memories of a game I used to love, but helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mike takes you into baseball in a way I never have been even though I played all through my childhood and through high school. This is not a book about smack talk or who is better then who this is a book about baseball and what needs to be done to get it back to just that. The title says it all. Juiced was a fun read but that was it fun. Clearing the Bases is not only fun, it is honost, insightful, and most of all it is about person who gave so much to the game and even when the game seemed not to want it. Mike is trully a hall of famer on and off the field. Clearing the Bases is the best book to come out on baseball in along time. As a Yankee fan I am used to seeing players come and go, that has really made me start to dislike baseball along with all the other junk in the game. Thanks Mike for letting us fans get a look at how a fomer 'lifer' sees the state of baseball. P.S. Sorry for all spelling and grammer errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a big mike schmidt fan. I felt like I had to read book. Was hopeing he told story,s about things that went on in the clubehouse or when they went out. A lot of the book I kind of already heard.
GHaag More than 1 year ago
A side of baseball I wasn't aware of.. Very good read and of course Mike Schmidt, a first class person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up watching Mike Schmidt and others of the era play ball. His insights are spot on! Lots of facts but more importantly, the book is like having a conversation with the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting read.
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