Saturday, August 11, 2012

Impact Player by Bobby Richardson and David Thomas - Book Review

Impact Player is a memoir by Bobby Richardson, the former 2nd baseman for the New York Yankees.  Richardson played from the late-50's through the mid-60's, during the heyday of the Mantle, Ford, and Maris teams.

Aside from knowing his name, I knew nothing about Richardson prior to reading this book.  I wouldn't say I was fascinated, but his insider's view into the Yankees was pretty cool.  After giving a brief background of his life prior to playing pro baseball, including his early commitment to Christ, Richardson gives an overview of each season he spent in the minors or with the Yankees.  He is a humble man, so his stories seem very toned-down compared to what a more ego-driven player might write.  He also is very careful to paint his teammates and competitors in a good light.  I often found myself wondering if he was sugar-coating his words, because I'm so used to people trying to place blame on others and build themselves up.  But, having finished the book, I believe that this is just representative of who Bobby is as a man of God.

The last several chapters detail Richardson's life after baseball, with the most interesting chapters containing his memories and friendships with his former teammates, including Tony Koubek, Roger Maris, Clete Boyer, Moose Skowron, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Mickey Mantle.  In fact, it is his friendship with Mantle that forms the frame for Richardson's story.  Opening with Richardson about to speak at Mantle's funeral, the final chapters bring home the fact that Mantle became a Christian shortly before he passed away and Bobby's witness was instrumental in that.  Richardson emphasizes how his platform of baseball (and ours in whatever we do) can and should be used to spread the message of Christ.

This book isn't the story of the Yankees' inner-workings amid a very successful run in baseball.  It is the story of one man trying to live for God while playing the game he loves.  It is definitely worth a read for sports fans, and maybe for the casual Yankee fan.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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